Trek to Kangorigad / Mangalgad Fort with a visit to Shivtharghal
After a break of three weeks with no trekking or cycling, I was really looking forward to a nice trek. When Sameer proposed a trek to Kangorigad, I jumped at the opportunity!
Kangorigad, also known as Mangaldad, is one of the lesser known forts in Maharashtra. It is located about 20 km away from Mahad, and is accessible from Mumbai via the Mumba-Goa highway, or from Pune via the Pandharpur Mhapral road that branches off from the Pune Bangalore highway towards Bhor, via the Warandha Ghat.
The following map shows the route from Mumbai to Pimpalwadi, the village at the base of the fort. The route is quite straightforward. You drive all the way to Mahad along the Mumbai Goa highway, then turn left on the Pandharpur Mhapral road towards Warandha Ghat. About 5 km ahead is the village of Dhalhathi, where you turn right towards Pimpalwadi.
The total distance from Mumbai is around 200 km. We decided to leave on Saturday evening, so that we reached Pimpalwadi at night, camp somewhere for the night and then trek up to the fort in the morning. The construction work going on along the Mumbai Goa highway and incessant rains kept the journey slow and we reached near Pimpalwadi close to 1 am at night, over 5 hours after we left Mumbai.
Turn towards Pimpalwadi at Dhalhathi, which is about 5 km from the junction of Mumbai Goa highway and Pandharpur Mhapral road
As we reached at night, it was too dark and everyone was fast asleep. So we could not locate Pimpalwadi. We took refuge in this temple for the night.
But there were so many mosquitoes that we hardly got any sleep in spite of being fully covered by our sleeping bags.
We woke at 7 am after 5 hours of attempting to sleep, and were greeted by the village sounds of cows mooing and the tinkling of bells on their necks
As we were getting ready to leave for the trek, this little kid came over with his cycle to the temple. He first fixed his brakes, then cycled up hill with great effort, and then hurtled downhill on the road. Such a pleasure to watch!
We then set off towards Pimpalwadi, which was a few kilometers ahead from where we had rested for the night
Along the way through the mountains, there were waterfalls everywhere!
We arrived at Pimpalwadi in a few minutes, and noted the board that pointed left to Dudhanewadi and right to Kangorigad Fort
The route to climb the fort lies between Gogavalewadi and Pimpalwadi. The initial stretch is actually a unpaved road for about a kilometer, but then it ends abrubptly and you have to then climb into the forest.
There seems to be an alternate route that bypasses the unpaved road and climbs straight up through the forest. However, the path was completely covered in brush, and we decided to continue on the unpaved road
Once the unpaved road ended, we turned right into the forest. It is very easy to find one’s way up, thanks to some trekker who has painted white arrows on rocks along the way.
After an initial stretch through dense forests, we came across this path towards the top of the hill
Flourescent green grass growing on both sides of the path, clouds hovering overhead, and water flowing down the path. Pure magic!
At the top of the hill, there is this verdant plateau that is just right for a Bollywood song sequence! I’m sure this green color has some deep genetic effect on humans… it lifts your spirits just by being there!
We started the second leg of the climb, which took us along the ridge of the mountain almost all the way to the top, through the broken fort gate. The climb is steep and slippery, and it is best to step slowly and carefully. The white arrow markings guide you all the way
Once you reach the top, the fort extends out to the end of the mountain top where there is a small temple of Kangori Devi. On the way, there are two water tanks that were full of rain water
Notice the contrast between the fort in summer and monsoon. We could barely see anything in monsoon as the place was fully covered in clouds. This photo taken by Jitendra Wilankar shows how beautiful the place looks in summer!
The temple is located at the far end of the hill top and is in a decrepit condition. But the rock structures were glistening with the rain, and looked stunning with the background of green
An arched doorway leads into the courtyard. The roof is completely destroyed but the courtyard is still in tact
Along the back wall of the courtyard, there are some idols lined up that seem to have been placed there later
The statues are in a pretty good shape. All three statues have four hands holding various weapons, indicating that they represent some Gods
In the center of the back wall of the courtyard, a small inner sanctum holds the dieties of Kangori Devi and Lord Bhairav
After the visit to the temple, we decided to skip climbing further to the top of the fort due to the thick cloud cover and slippery paths that were completely hidden by overgrowth of grass. We had a quick snack from our backpacks and headed back down hill
While climbing down, we noticed the hill side full of various types of wild flowers of different colors and shapes. This one is particularly stunning due to the contrast of the flower with the bright green leaves!
After the trek, we washed up in a stream at Pimpalwadi, changed into dry clothes, and headed towards Shivtharghal, enjoying the waterfalls all along the way
Shivtharghal also known as Sundarmath, is situated near Barasgaon. Samarth Ramdas, the renowned saint is supposed to have dictated the famous treatise Dasbodh to Kalyanswami at this place. Samarth Ramdas lived here for about 22 years. It is believed that this is where the first meeting between Shivaji and Samarth Ramdas took place
There is a huge gigantic waterfall falling in front of the cave
The waterfall can be seen best from the corridor that leads from the main building of the math to the cave in which the statues of Samarth Ramdas and Kalyanswami are located. The volume of water that cascades down is enormous, and nobody is allowed near the water
On the return journey, we took a different route via Warandha Ghat to go to Pune, and then took the Pune Mumbai Expressway. Warandha Ghat is a winding road that climbs up into the Sahyadris and offers some striking views of the mountains, with waterfalls everywhere!
On the Pune Mumbai expressway, we were regaled by the show put on by the clouds at sunset.
We reached back in Mumbai around 9 pm, taking around 6 hours for the return journey. This trek was the highlight of this season so far. Really enjoyed the rains, the hypnotic greens and the waterfalls!