Harishchandragad is one of those places that will leave your eyes sparkling with joys. One can never get enough of it and each time it treats the eyes with different hues giving different experience and pleasure. There are many ways through which one can reach Harishchandragad. We opted to ascend from Khireshwar village which is 7kms from Khubifata and one can easily reach here within an hour by foot.
We reached Khireshwar at 7 am. Had poha and chai for breakfast, relaxed a bit before we started to ascend for Harishchandragad.
This route is both physically and mentally challenging. It takes 4-5hrs to reach the summit. One must carry enough water while trekking here as the weather is generally hot and dry and one may feel dehydrated soon. However, there are stalls at regular intervals. There are 2 rock patches at Tolar Khind where utmost attention is required. After that is 2hrs of easy climb through dense jungle. We reached the summit at 2.30 pm and spent a night in a cave.
The hillfort is said to exist from the 6th century and there are many caves around, which are said to be carved out in the 11th century. Also, great sage Changdev used to meditate here.
The temple stands in the middle of widespread plains. Old and worn out rock cut temple will take you back in time. As we entered the temple gates, the carvings on the temple wall depicted various Gods and life in the medieval age as if waiting to speak its mysterious stories.This temple is said to be more than 400 years old. It is built by king Harishchandra and is dedicated to lord Shiva. Right opposite to the temple is the water tank where people can take bath before visiting the holy temple. Although the water doesn’t seem fit for bath due to many tourists intervention.
Behind the Harishchandreshwar temple, there is a temple cave of lord Shiva. Shivling is approx. 5 ft tall and is surrounded by 4 pillars (3 of them destroyed). They say the pillars depict the 4 Yugas- Satya Yuga, Tretha Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. A pillar breaks by itself at the end of each Yuga. The destruction of the 4th pillar will mark the end of Kali Yuga. This shivling can be reached by crossing through waist deep water. The water here is so cool that it sends the chills down the spine! To add more to the enigma of this place, the water remains waist deep for everyone, irrespective of the height of a person.
This place overlooks the Konkan region and hence is named as Konkan Kada. The cliff is ‘C’ shaped and one cannot look down the cliff while standing due to high wind pressure and the height of the cliff. Even if one looks down by sleeping over, it is scary and someone who has a phobia of heights may feel dizzy while looking down the cliff. The sunset from this point is mesmerizing. It creates the horizon separating the valley from the sky. One must see this place themselves as it’s beauty is beyond description.
We descended next day in early morning via Pachnai route.
I visited this place during monsoon too via Pachnai. So sharing the beauty of this place during monsoon.
How to Get there:
- There are four ways through which this trek can be completed, ie., via Pachnai, Khireshwar, Brahma ghat and Nalichi vat ( in the order of easy to difficult).
- From Mumbai, one can catch the ST bus from Kalyan going to Ahmednagar or Malshej ghat and get down at Khubifata. Khireshwar village is 7 km from here.
- To trek Via Pachnai route, one has to reach Igatpuri, catch ST bus to Rajur and then change the bus from Rajur to Pachnai.
Best time to visit:
- This place can be visited from July to February. However, it really comes alive in monsoon( July-October) with innumerable streams, waterfalls and lush greenery.
- For amateurs, it is advisable to trek via Pachnai route only during monsoon.
- In rest of the season, even amateurs can trek via Khireshwar
- Nalichi vat is extremely difficult and is advisable only for experienced and pro trekkers.
- Carry ample of water and glucose.
- Ensure to wear shoes with good grip.
- Please do not litter around. Dispose of the waste properly. Carry your own garbage bag.
- Spend a night in a cave. There are many stalls near the temple so you may not need to carry food along.
- There are sleeping mattresses available in Rs 30-50 for a night which is good if you are sleeping in a cave as the rocks are uneven.
- If the caves are full, there are chances that you may get to hire tent from the stalls. (this is not applicable in monsoon as there are no stalls during this season.)
- During monsoon, confirm from the base village if there will be any cook available at the fort or else you will have to carry enough food to spend the night in a cave. (Generally, the cooks are available.)
- The whole trek costs Rs.800 – Rs.1000 each.
P.S- All Pictures are clicked from mobile