Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance

Tripoto
23rd Dec 2012
Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Back in 2012 while doing my MBA in SIOM Nashik the hiking bug had officially bitten me, after my enthralling hike to Dugarwadi waterfalls. The stage had been set for more such adventures to follow. Fast forward 5 months and my friends Arun, Anoop, and Amit had planned for a trek to Harishchandragad, in the Ahmednagar district. I had missed out on the earlier trek to Ratangad, so this time I made sure I go with them.

This is the journey of a just-transformed-trekker who undertakes this adventure with lot of expectations. This was 6 years back. Most of the pics below are thanks to the exceptionally skilled Anoop and Arun, who introduced me to the world of trekking. Well, as for me I was carrying a Nikon PnS, so sorry for the poor picture quality and wrong (and ugly) date stamp on them.

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance 1/3 by Hrishikesh Baruah
Jam packed!

About Harishchandragad

Maharashtra has numerous forts and ruins, mainly from the rule of Maratha empire which have now doubled up as exquisite trekking spots. The history of Harishchandragad preludes 6th century, and when sages used to meditate here under the caves carved out of the rocks here. What remains at the top are the ruins of forts, Harishchandreswar temple, Kedareshwar cave, few ancient caves which are still livable. The fort proved for a strategic importance for the Marathas after they won it from the Mughals.

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance 2/3 by Hrishikesh Baruah
Pachanai village, starting point to our trek

Our Journey to Pachanai Village

Our folks had arranged for a Tata Ace. We had to literally stuff ourselves inside, for we were 12 people! Harishchandragad could be climbed through 4-5 routes, however we would go from Pachanai village situated around 100 kms from our campus. Started off in at 10:30 am to a destination with little knowledge.

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance 3/3 by Hrishikesh Baruah
Day 1

The journey to the village was through numerous hills dotted with villages and their crops. Took a right from the Gothi village to Pachanai, and we reached our destination at around 3:50 pm. Welcome to the lap of Sahyadri mountains. Bought some last minute water and snacks before we hit the road. The trek is almost 3.5 kms till the top.

Trek to Harishchandragad Fort: Our Struggles

We are about to enter the Kalsubai Harishchandragad Wildlife Sanctuary now. This is a trek not for the weak hearted. The trail is tricky, with lot of quick elevations, and dangerous to say the least. I came to know that the village is called Pachanai because there are 5 waterfalls which transcends from the hill above during monsoons. Must be one heck of a sight.

Start of the trek. Look at that monstrous hill in the back which is our destination as well

Photo of Kalsubai Harichandragad Wildlife Sanctury, Harishchandragadh trek Route, Maharashtra, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

I'll be honest here, few of us in the group (including me) used to smoke back then. We realized our stamina levels within the 1st 10 minutes of the incline. Me and Koustuv were sweating it out, finding it difficult to even pass the initial section. The hill in front was like the wall in GoT; daunting and menacing. Imagine we have to reach there. We have started late and need to reach before dusk. The initial part was definitely steep.

Kedar already feeling the heat

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

As steps moved our body started to adjust and acknowledge the situation. And while we are at it the view at our back is absolutely gorgeous. Make note its a narrow passage, and one wrong footing can you take you down forever. Frequent rests has now become a habit.

We came under the shade of a huge hill, walking under which was pulsating as well as terrifying. Slowly traversing that section, with no one overtaking we climbed from the left on to a cliff with a pond there. A grand buffet views of 180 degree right in front of us. But we will relish these views tomorrow morning on our return as we have to reach our destination before it gets too dark.

some efforts going in there

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Spot the tiny humans

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

The Sahyadris

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

After crossing over the pond we have now entered the forest. The dense jungle did leave scratch marks on the exposed skin. Carefully waddling through the low hanging branches and climbing over trees we came out of it to wide plateau. Yes, we are finally at the top and the village and temple is visible from a distance.

Finally made it to top

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Harishchandragad

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

The satisfaction of approaching the village was more of a relief than accomplishment. A small village, the ruins, temples and the caves. We were lucky to be the only 'outsiders' today in Harishchandragad. A local villager guided us to a stone cave. I've never seen anything like this before. Of course there were no windows, just a open entrance to the cave, with benches carved out of the stone. Down goes our backpacks and we quickly scattered out to find dry and fallen branches for tonight's dinner.

Never thought picking wood will be fun

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Can you spot the caves? That's where we had put up for the night

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

There was a sort of celebration in the village tonight. Well, it happens to be a full moon night as well. Lots of singing and chanting filled the surrounding with vibrancy. We went around trying to capture the temples at night with our then cameras.

presenting to you our 'room' for the night

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

this is how the cave looks from inside

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Back in our "room" and its time to prepare our dinner. Well, it was Maggi that we got! While putting the wood fire we had to ensure the smoke doesn't go inside the cave. Mind you there's no electricity anywhere around. We were having a gala time with our Maggi here! We didn't explore the village properly today, we do it tomorrow morning. Now the problem is how to sleep, as we are used to our cozy beds. Just spread the newspaper on the stony floor and buzz off!

survival instincts

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Konkan Kada Viewpoint

Day 2

Our plan for today was to hike up to Konkan Kada viewpoint, from where you get spectacular views of the Sahyadris. We took a local guide with us. Hiking through dense stretches of trees and grass we reached the Konkan Kada viewpoint in a short span of time. It was pretty windy here, but the open views in front of us was just a marvel of nature. The cliffs, deep gorges, and standing on the tip of Konkan Kada gave both the chills as well as satisfaction. We spent almost 1 hour here, impressed by the wonder of nature.

Photo of Konkan Kada, Maharashtra by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Konkan Kada, Maharashtra by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Konkan Kada, Maharashtra by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Konkan Kada, Maharashtra by Hrishikesh Baruah

Exploring the Temples

Upon returning to the village it was time to head back to Nashik. But before that we explored the Harishchandreshwar temple, Kedareshwar cave, and the community pond.

The Kedareshwar cave was indeed an intriguing one. There is a huge shivling in the middle with 4 pillars surrounding it. Out of the four pillars 3 pillars have collapsed, and the roof is standing on the 4th pillar. The locals say that the day the 4th pillar collapses is when the world draws to its end. This apart there is almost 3-4 ft of icy cold water surrounding the cave. And during rainy season water overflows. Fascinating.

Photo of Kedareshwar Cave, Paachnaichi Vaat Path, Maharashtra, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The community pond

Photo of Harishchandreshwar Temple, Maharashtra, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The Harishchandreshwar temple is another architectural grandeur. The dark black temple and carvings on it reminds of the other famous temples. The temple is dedicated to lord Ganesh. A river is said to originate from beneath of the temple.

Harishchandreshwar temple

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Harishchandreshwar temple

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Kedareshwar Cave

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Kedareshwar Cave

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Time to head back to our campus. We started as early as possible for we had a long distance to cover. Trekking on a sunny day and retracing our path the same way we stopped for some moment near the pond, off the cliff. As I've been saying the views of the Sahyadris are something worth clicking hundreds of pics, yet you feel you can click better.

With arms wide open

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

We reached Pachanai village in about 3 hours. Our good old Tata Ace guy was already waiting for us there. Sigh, that was one tough but fulfilling trek. We head back to Nashik, with our phones buzzing up upon re-entering network coverage.

The pond on the way

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Vertical face

Photo of Trek to Harishchandragad: My First Real Test of Endurance by Hrishikesh Baruah

Harishchandragad was undoubtedly an enriching experience. This is where I got the hunch of trekking more frequently. Difficult trek, and yet the rewards are worth all the hardships.

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