Due to its unusual topography, Maharashtra has reveled in different forms of fort construction depending on the region and location. Forts, over the years, have almost become synonymous with the state. The Marathas gave monumental importance to them as they remained their strongest defense against invaders. Spread across the state in hundreds, the forts are a keen attraction to those visiting Shivaji Maharaj's home state. As the monsoon season nears its peak, treks to these forts become an extremely alluring proposition.
Standing at an elevation of over a 1000 meters, the Lohagad Fort is located in the Sahyadri ranges overlooking the lush terraced valley. Still in its prime condition, the Iron Fort as it was once called was an indomitable task to climb for invaders. A true gift of military architecture, the trek towards the fort is rather straightforward. One can keep an eye out for a variety of birds and monkeys. However, do not get too playful with the latter who will try to steal your food at any given time. Offering a picturesque view of the Western Ghats, take a few minutes out to take in this natural marvel.
Average Duration: 3 hours
We all have the evening cup of tea at home. Ever wonder what chai while watching sunrise from the top of a hill might feel like? The Pratapgad Fort, renowned as the Valor Fort, is an ideal location to complete such an effervescent fantasy. Divided into the upper and lower segments, the fort houses temples dedicated to Mahadev and Goddess Bhavani. A symbol of cultural integration and harmony, a dargah in commemoration ofShivaji's enemy, Afzal Khan is also built here. The Pratapgad Fort is one with dark walkaways, sultry chambers, and a maze of ponds. Beware of where you step as there are several trap doors that open to a 100 meter fall. The trek to the top is eventful as you'll come across a breathtaking view of the western coastline of India. As you climb higher and higher, you'll be able to kiss the clouds while being surrounded by a view of rolling green hills.
Average Duration: 2 hours
Called the 'Jewels of the fort', the Ratangad Fort is located on the boundary of the Ahmednagar and Thane districts. Almost 400 years old, the defense structure is renowned for the Amruteshwar temple, containing carvings dating back to the 8th century. From the top, one can see the Wilson Dam and the numerous waterfalls. Over the years, continuous cascading of water has led to the formation of water cisterns along the fort. The trek is a simple one, walk along the banks of the Pravara River and climb a set of iron ladders to reach the massive structure. If you're interested in capturing the entire fort in a single frame, walk around the ridges.
Average Duration: 2 hours
Consisting of twin fortresses, Shriwardhan Ballekila and Manaranjan Ballekila with a wide plateau encircling the fort, Rajmachi was used as a strategic fort to control trade routes. Lying in the Sahyadri mountain range, Rajmachi is a popular location in the monsoons. Encompassing of a mere 40-minute climb to the top, the trek will take through a journey of pure elation as you pass by waterfalls drizzling onto the rocks. From the top, you can see the clouds engulf the mountain ranges in the distance, creating a mystic scenery.
Average Duration: 1 hour
One of the more challenging treks, Raigad served as the capital of the Maratha empire under Shivaji. Another fort located in the Sahyadri mountain ranges, one can use the Raigad Ropeaway, an aerial tramway, to reach the top of the fort in 10 minutes. However, for those wanting to do this the hard way, the trek will take you up to 3 hours. Upon reaching the top, you can view the execution point called Takmak Tok, a cliff from where prisoners were thrown to their deaths. Called the Gibraltar of the East, the valleys around the fort are adorned in green. Also, visit the Jadgishwar Temple and Shivaji's tomb which are located nearby.
Average duration: 3 Hours