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Gorakhgad Fort Trek: One of the Best Trails to Pursue During Monsoons

Gorakhgad fort trek is one of the trails to be pursued during the monsoons. Actually, any season. However, when the sky begins to pour, Gorakhgad trek comes across as beautiful. Therefore, pursuing the magnificent Gorakhgad fort trek during monsoons will prove to be a good decision. 

The Gorakhgad fort trek is moderate in nature and even a first time person embarking it will be able to complete it. The only thing to keep in mind is to pursue it in a group for the first time (or even thereafter).

Before undertaking any trek, every enthusiast gauges it in terms of resources spent versus takeaways. In this regard, Gorakhgad will not disappoint you.

After a sapping and treacherous trek what it turns you into is kind of a tired yet satisfied victorious army cadet who has made success by conquering one more feat.

Gorakhgad Fort Trek: Nestled Amidst the Sahyadri Hill Range

Spread across the western coast along from Gujarat till Tamil Nadu down south, Sahyadri hills have had a political and historic importance. They served as a natural barrier to foreign aggression through Arabian sea route.

Having good understanding of the terrains and using Guerrilla warfare, Charismatic King Shivaji of Maratha Empire was able to thwart attacks from Portuguese, British and the Mughal forces.

Sahyadri hills range house many famous forts such as Shivneri, Raigad, Torna, Rajgad, Purandar and many more. All these forts offers great insights into the Maratha empire.

The Gorakhgad Fort was immensely important during the reigns of Shahaji Raje. During the era of the mighty Shivaji, it served for patrolling.

The region has everything a trek-travel-Nature lover would want. From Wide flora and fauna to easy to difficult forts to adrenaline raising cliffs to great river origins and much more – the region offers everything.

If you want to go fast, go alone, If you want to go far, go together‘, says an old African Proverb. We got it fairly tested during our extended trek session which had Ahupe Ghat (Valley) as our first destination and Gorakhgad being the next.

Gorakghad fort trek

The full gang ready to pursue the trek. Photography by Sandeep

An Overview of the Gorakhgad Fort Trek

Before venturing deep into the details of the Gorakhgad Fort trek, it is extremely important that you know some essential facts –

Location Village – Khopiwali, Taluka – Murbad, District – Thane, Maharashtra, West India
Best time to visit Monsoon (July to August)

Winters (September to December)

Total trek time 12 to 13 hours (Gorakhgad)

Another 8 – 10 hours for Ahupe valley

Tip Try pursuing the Gorakhgad fort trek in a group
Reasons to visit Experiencing the Adrenalin rush, exploring the Sahaydri ranges and for overcoming acrophobia

 

gorakhgad fort trek

The Gorakhgad trek provides a lush green view of nature throughout the trail. Photography by Toshith Naidu

How to Reach Khopiwali Village or Dehri ?

In order to reach Khopiwali village or Dehri, one of the following three routes can be followed –

Route 1 Private transport : Mumbai – Kalyan – Murbad – Khopiwli (Approximate cost per
person – Rs. 500/-)
Route 2 Private transport : Mumbai – Kalyan – Murbad – Dehri (Approximate cost per person – Rs. 500/-)
Route 3 Train till Kalyan followed by public / private transport till Murbad and then till Khopiwali or Dehri (Total cost per person – Approximately Rs. 300/-)

Make sure to reach by 5 pm at base of Khopiwali village as limited public and private travel options (state transport buses and private vehicles) are available. Ideally you should reach at Murbad by 8 pm

Food, Water and Accommodation for the Gorakhgad Fort Trek 

As far as drinking water is concerned, carry 2-3 litres of water per person. Villagers provide food available at Khopiwali as well as Dehri village at reasonable cost of 100 INR to 150 INR per person. The food is hygienic and typically includes rice, Jowar Roti, Zunka and Chutney.

Now coming to accommodation – 

Although overnight stay is not required if one wishes to go only to Gorakhgad, you may chose to stay at Kalyan or Murbad or with locals at Khopiwlali or  Dehri and start your Gorakhgad Fort trek early morning.

Accommodation Available at Kalyan

Accommodation available at Murbad

Alternately if it’s a 2 day plan covering Ahupe valley (day 1) and Gorakhgad (day 2), one can either stay with the locals at Khopiwali or Dehri village or stay at Gorakshnath temple at base of Gorakhgad.

The Various Stages of my Gorakhgad Fort Trek

The entire length of the Gorakhgad Fort trek can be broken down into various stages. It can differ from person to person. I am enlisting all of the seven stages I along with my group undertook to embark on the trail.

Stage One The Beginning
Stage Two Ahupe Ghat
Stage Three Climb up to Gorakhgad
Stage Four The Fort and the Caves
Stage Five Sinking in the beauty
Stage Six Meant for the strong willed
Stage Seven The Descend Down

 

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The Gorakhgad trek can be pursued successfully by breaking it down into various stages. Photography by Mahesh Koli

Gorakhgad Fort Trek: Stage One – The Beginning

As a group, we normally go for one day treks and that too on Saturdays. This gives sufficient time for physical healing on the next day i.e Sunday. This time however, we decided to give a shot to an extended trek of couple of days.

An overnight stay at the base village (which in this case was the Khopiwalli village) at such places has it’s own advantages. So we made sure to bunk in overnight at Khopiwalli.

Firstly, you get to know rich history as well as current happenings about the region from the horse’s mouth i.e. the natives. This sort of information cannot be found even on Google. 

Secondly, you get to know the village culture, savor the tasty local delicacies, enjoy the comfortable nights in their small but well maintained abodes. All these are priceless.

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Gorakhgad from the base -From Khopiwli village route. Photography by Sandeep

Gorakhgad Fort Trek: Stage Two – Ahupe Ghat 

We packed our bags early morning and started our exhilarating journey of Ahupe Ghat and Gorakhgad Fort trek. Rain had just subsided and it was lush green all along the road (NH-61). En-route we had some really tasty Poha (A recipe of typical flattened rice relished during breakfast in the region) and hot ginger tea which got our belly full and set up the mood for the trek.

On reaching the base village of Khopiwali, we parked our car near an household, enjoyed tea offered by a villager and set off for Ahupe Ghat trek.

Although it tested our endurance but we had a real good time walking through the water streams, climbing through rugged terrains, clicking the pictures of beautiful scenery and finally enjoying some good home cooked food at the plateau which we had got from our homes.

From the top we could see expanse of Sahyadris, Gorakhgad, Macchindragad. We felt like the hills are calling us over there. Without wasting any time, we headed our way along the Gorakhgad Fort trek.

There are are 3 hills placed alongside each other –

Gorakhgad Height ~ 550 m
Macchindragad Height ~450 m
Siddhagad Height ~ 830 m

Macchindragad and Gorakhgad have been named after two saints  Macchindranath and Gorakshnath. They were master and disciple.

Considering the vastness and denseness of Sahydri Hills, it is advisable that you take help of locals to trace the path in case you find yourself go off path. Else, you will risk getting lost in wilderness.

On our Gorakhgad fort trek trail, a villager directed us from Khopiwli village till across a water stream from where well marked path commenced our journey to Gorakhgad. 

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The steep rocky climb to Ahupe Ghat. Photography by Sandeeep

Gorakhgad Fort Trek: Stage Three – Climb Up to Gorakhgad

The Gorakhgad fort trek has a steep muddy and slippery path all along during the monsoons. Hence it is suggested that you wear shoes with good grip and walk carefully.

Normally, as a group, we keep agile and fit members spread out in formation. This balances the momentum of the team. You should try this too.

Moving further the Gorakhad fort trek, we took periodic energy conserving breaks. Now these are essential to avoid muscle sprains. It took us approximately 90 minutes to reach the base of Gorakhgad. At this point in the trek, the temple of Saint Gorakshnath is located.

The temple area was neat and clean with a lovely goat calf enjoying sunshine. Built by devotees from adjacent villages, this temple has arrangement for food as well as stay for 30 to 40 people.

It is managed by villagers who voluntarily work here. One of the priests visits here every Sunday and is a doctor by profession. He told us how their group worked to bring water from almost 100 meters away to the temple using scientific principle of gravity.

Also he elaborated about how they persuaded the villagers to stop the brutal tradition of animal sacrifice. The adorable baby goat we saw earlier was one of the innocent lives that was saved.

Gorakghad fort trek

The baby goat we found in the temple premises. Photography by Sandeep

Gorakghad Fort Trek: Stage Four – The Fort and the Caves

After having quick breakfast of hot masala noodles and playing with the baby goat for a while, we headed towards the peak. It’s a reasonably easy walk of about 20-25 minutes till the start of the rock hill.

At this point one can find a small temple and a sign board briefing about rich history of the Gorakghad fort. Most of the forts in Maharashtra have sign boards like this which highlight about the place.

We took couple of pictures and moved to climb the rock patch. The initial part is steep and requires maneuvering. Harness for the ropes are provided. Not to mention, we forgot to carry ropes and had to manage it with each others support. Post that there are steps itched in the rock till the entrance of the fort which is painted in bright orange. Further steps which are easy climb lead to the cave.

The cave which can house at least 25 people is cut in the top portion of the cliff. The mere view of it brings calmness to a traveler’s mind. With pillar like structures painted in bright orange, the cave is an ideal place for penance and meditation. One team member of ours rightly named this moment as ‘earning peace of mind.’

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What a beauty! The Gorakhgad Fort has been kept clean all these years. Photography by Hari Mohanty

Gorakhgad Fort Trek: Stage Five – Sinking in the Beauty

Now having walked for almost 3 hours we decided to rest our bodies before attempting the final hike to the zenith.

Sitting at the edge of the cave I started observing the grandness of the cliff and came across the harness on the cliff. Now this was indicative of the fact that some trek enthusiasts might have tried to climb the cliff from the cave side. At this point I really wished all of us had ropes.

The view there was mesmerizing. Western ghats and Machindragad fort right across me standing tall, covered by dense green cover made me smile.

As the wind blew, we could not move our eyes off Machindragad which aptly looks like a small replica of Gorakhgad.

Although there exists a pass which connects both these forts – 

Macchindragad and Gorakhgad, due to erosion and growth of jungle, it’s very difficult to reach Macchindragad. Hence, almost all trekkers pursue the Gorakhgad Fort trek only.

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Macchindragad seen as from the edge of the cave. Photography by Sandeep

Gorakhgad Fort Trek: Stage Six – Meant for the Strong Willed

The journey on the Gorakhgad Fort trek further up is not meant for  those suffering from acrophobia and vertigo. There is no proper route or steps here. Additional blowing of wind makes it even tougher to focus on the task at hand.

An individual with a strong mind and nimble on foot should think of going to the top. During monsoons it becomes extra slippery and difficult. Any wrong landing can lead to fall over 1000 feet down the valley.

This dangerous trail on the Gorakhgad Fort Trek reminded us of our previous trek of Harihargad which looked pretty docile now in front of this challenge.

Couple of our team members who undoubtedly are the fittest amongst us decided to give Gorakhgad Fort Trek a shot further up. They went from besides the cave and started with a rock patch which had few notches to hold onto and climb.

Once you accomplish this part comes a steep rock patch with small steps which leads to the top. Landing on top, you get see a small temple with a Nandi Idol, a Shivling and few photographs of Hindu gods.

Here we saw few regular trekkers coming up. While chatting with them we realized that to climb such hills, apart from fitness and mental toughness one needs more of guts and self belief.

From the top of the place that we were, one can get a grand view of massive Sahyadri ghat, Ahupe valley extending till Bhimashankar, Naneghat.

Meanwhile we started moving around the cave and came across several more caves which were small. But as comforting and quiet as the bigger cave. We saw almost half a dozen water cisterns but none filled with potable water.

With no records of battle being fought, this fort was significant from surveillance or point of view (as mentioned at the outset of this article). It offered good view of the passes which were used for commercial purposes during Shivaji’s reign.

Gorakghad fort trek

Our team member who made it to the way up. Photography by Sandeep

Gorakhgad Fort Trek: Stage Seven – The Descend Down

Having witnessed the slippery paths and steep rocks, we knew that descend won’t be that easy. Hence we followed the same strategy of mixing best with the rest. It helped subside risk for injury.

On reaching the base temple we had some herbal tea and Prasad( holy Hindu food offering) comprising of Rice, Dal (made up of Indian lentils) and Curry. Mind you it was amazing.  Who says Sattvic food (vegetarian meal) can’tbe  tasty ?

After finishing Aarti (Hindu ritual) and offering our prayers we headed to the base. It was already 5 pm and we needed to rush as it would get dark soon. Descend didn’t took us more than 90-100 minutes and by 6. 30 pm we were at the base of the fort.

We located a water stream and straight away jumped in to. Nothing matches a good water therapy in curing your tiredness. We had seen villagers washing there clothes in morning and hence knew its safe to get in the waters.

One should exercise extreme caution before venturing into unknown waters as it might be home to reptiles and other harmful creatures.

When we were satisfied and felt totally relaxed, we moved on to the village base where we had been put up. We were already hungry and had requested our host to keep dinned ready.

What a dinner it was ! Being a foodie nothing matches home cooked food made in village style – Jowar roti with Zunka (Bengal gram delicacy) with spicy pea nut chutney (Indian dip). It felt like heaven.

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Nandi Temple at the Apex of the hill. Photography by Sandeep

Bidding Adieu to Gorakhgad Fort Trek

We had brought groceries with us in case we needed to cook. Since we had got such wonderful people who hosted us with great warmth, we didn’t use much of it. We quickly handed it over to our hosts, distributed chocolates among kids and departed for our nests with confidence and pride of having achieved two stepping stones (Ahupe valley and Gorakhgad). Also, having witnessed few more jewels in Sahyadris.

There is a famous saying in this region, “If you have lost your confidence, creativity, self belief or want to accomplish something big; Just head to Sahaydris & Its forts, explore it and you shall find the way as how to deal with the task.”

Sahaydris teach you to focus on the present task, use resources well, keep mind steady is difficult situation. That’s what one needs to handle any problem. Isn’t it?

Advisory for Individuals Taking the Gorakhgad Fort Trek for the First Time

For individuals undertaking the Gorakhgad fort trek for the first time (or otherwise), it is important to keep some things and tips in mind. Here’s an experience based advisory fr your benefit –

1. Ideally visit in group of 5+ participants.
2. People having acrophobia should exercise caution.
3. Do not smoke or consume alcohol before or during the trek.
4. Carry basic medicines kit.
5. Do not venture in water bodies en-route.
6. Care for environment. Dispose the trash properly. Do not litter.

Recommended Easy and Moderate Treks in India for Beginners

The Gokarkhgad fort trek brought in me a new sense of confidence and helped me learn the intricacies of nature. It will do the same to you as well. Pursue it.

Happy wayfaring.

About the Author

Vinay Khobre

Vinay Khobre

Vinay Khobre is a management professional, based out of Mumbai. As a travel enthusiast and avid trekker, he often takes solo as well as group treks and expeditions. Being a foodie, he tries to explore unique delicacies. He firmly believes that exposure to different cultures develops a person very well. An ideal day for him is to walk through unknown by lanes of the city looking for something new or go for a bike ride to a calm serene place. Cultural heritage and historical importance of the place amuses him and he makes sure to get as many insights as possible. He wishes to explore all the continents someday.

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