We were in the middle of the 2019 monsoon. Over the past two weeks, we had joined two different treks of this. The first was the 400ft Calder Falls trek and the second was the Kondana Cave trek. On Saturday of the third weekend, we got drenched in an unknown waterfall and decided to do the Kothaligad Trek / Peth Fort Trek on Sunday. We planned to do more treks in the monsoons near Karjat . The 3100ft Kothaligad trek / Pesu Fort trek is a must for all sahyadri fans as it is always surrounded by clouds during the monsoon and has many waterfalls. In addition, Kothaligad has a great history, with intricately carved caves, rock-hewn water tanks, rock-hewn stairs and restored cannons. Directions from Mumbai and Pune to Kothaligad.
How to Reach Kothaligad from Mumbai and Pune?
The nearest railway stations are Karjat and Nerul. From Karjat: A direct bus to Jambrung/Jamrukh is available from Karjat railway station (at 08:30). Take it down to Ambivali. (Shared rickshaws from Shree Ram Pur to Ambivali are also available.) Return buses from Ambivali to Karjat are at 15:30 and 17:30. Do not miss it. From Neral: A shared rickshaw/tam-tam is available for Kashere. From Cachelet take a shared taxi to Jambrun. You can ride these and get off at Ambivali. By Private Vehicle: Drive to Karjat and turn left at Shree Ram Pull/bridge towards Ambivali Phata. Turn right to reach Ambivali. Ambivali can be found on Google Maps as Hotel Kothaligad, Pinglas.From there, you can find your exact route using the Google Maps location above.
From Ambivali to Peth you have to walk about 4 km on a semi-paved and bumpy road. It gets worse when it rains because the streams of water take away all the soft ground, leaving only stones of varying sizes.
Vehicle cannot be continued or severe damage is expected. The car can go about 10 minutes further from Ambivali where proper roads are available, but after that it’s all bumpy. Continue walking about 4 km (90-120 minutes) to Peth, where many villagers open hotels. If you pay for meals, you can stay for free (more on that later). After that, the actual trekking begins and lasts about 60 minutes. A few minutes to reach the fortress, the main highlight of the trek.
Places to visit
The highlights of the Kothaligad trek are the fort’s unique thumb-like structure, the fort’s well-preserved cannon from its heyday, and panoramic views of the surrounding mountain range. A dynamic waterfall that is often blown up by strong winds from the valley. Ornately carved pillars of a cave temple.Many forts can be seen on the Kothaligad trek, but we weren’t able to see much today due to the heavy clouds. In clear weather you can easily see Bhimashankar, Padalagad, Siddhagad and sometimes even Karnala.Occasionally the clouds parted and we were able to catch a glimpse of the vast expanse of greenery. Climbing is easy.There are some stalls to order lunch uphill, and you can also eat downhill.
Difficulty level of the trek.
No section of the Kothaligad Trek is this difficult. However, trekkers should always anticipate and prepare for all contingencies.
Few things are:
- Landslides (monsoon specific): The section from Ambiburi to Peth Gaon is very prone to landslides. This also leads to numerous incidents of trees falling and blocking trails during the monsoon season.
- Rock Site: After exiting the spiral staircase carved inside the fortress, there is a point where the road turns sharply to the right. The exposed curves overlook drops of over 50 feet. Be careful when going down this patch as it can be very slippery during monsoons.
- Paths Discovered: Kothaligad Fortress is a small marvel in the thought and foresight that went into building it. Stairs carved from the inside, small access to the top, multi-level fortifications, and escape routes.
The last of these – the narrow, exposed paths around the fort – have recently been a cause for concern. There have been several reported incidents of injuries to trekkers attempting this route.
After the tour of this fort, it was time for the main attraction. A path leading from the left side of the fort leads to the cave and the entrance to the summit.
This cave was the largest at Fort Kothaligad/Fort Peth. It had splendidly carved pillars and door frames. We can only imagine the human ingenuity of doing this with basic equipment centuries ago.This cave may have been well cared for, but now it reeks of bats. 50 people can easily stay here. And groups are known to cook here. Next to this huge cave is a temple and a secret staircase.
The staircase is carved like a circular staircase that reaches the top. Sometimes when I opened the window on the stairs, I could see beautiful greenery and clouds. It was charming.
The last step up the Kothaligad trek leads to another entrance to the summit balcony. From here, his 360-degree views offered by this fortress were used to defend the Maval region.