Must visit these places on the Harishchandragad

Explore the Paradise of Trekkers

Harishchandragad is a hill fort situated on the border of three districts of Pune, Ahmednagar and Thane in Maharashtra. This fort is located in Harishchandragad-Kalsubai Wildlife Sanctuary. This is the most challenging trek in the Western Ghats. Harishchandragad fort can be visited all year round and is known for its size and spectacular ‘Kokankada’ – the cliff overlooking the Konkan belt has been a popular choice for adventure lovers and trekkers for many years.

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Harishchandragad is a very ancient fort, dating back to the 6th century. There are caves all over the fort, which is believed to have been carved in the 11th century. The various temples and carvings in the caves indicate that the fort dates back to medieval times as it is associated with Shaivism, Shakti or Nath. Later this fort came under the control of the Mughals. And till 1747 the Marathas took possession of it.

Extra infoHistory

The fort is quite ancient. Remnants of Microlithic man have been discovered here. The various Puranas (ancient scriptures) like Matsyapurana, Agnipurana and Skandapurana include many references for Harishchandragad. Its origin is said to have been in the 6th century, during the rule of the Kalchuri dynasty. The citadel was built during this era. The various caves probably have been carved out in the 11th century. In these caves, idols of Lord Vishnu were carved. Though the cliffs are named Taramati and Rohidas, they are not related to Ayodhya.

Great sage Changdev (one who created the epic “Tatvasaar”), used to meditate here in the 14th century. The caves are from the same period. The various constructions on the fort and those existing in the surrounding region point to the existence of diverse cultures here. The carvings on the temples of Nageshwar (in Khireshwar village), in the Harishchandreshwar temple and in the cave of Kedareshwar indicate that the fort belongs to the medieval period since it is related to Shaiva, Shakta or Naath. Later the fort was under the control of Moguls. The Marathas captured it in 1747.

Must visit these places on the Harishchandragad

Major attraction of the Harishchandragad

Kokankada

The major attraction of Harishchandragad is Konkan Kada, an almost 1,423 m concave fall. It is a vertical overhang, like a cobra’s hood, providing a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and an enchanting sunset. It’s beyond description, one should actually see it to experience nature’s architecture. The view from here is awesome and unimaginable.

Also, there are colonies of vultures in the huge crevices. You need a pair of binoculars to watch them a little closer.

One of the highest peak of Maharashtra: 4,695 ft.

Taramati Peak

A little further away on the mountain is the Taramati peak, one of the highest peaks in Maharashtra, providing a breath-taking view of the surrounding mountain ranges and an ideal setting to bask in the golden canopy of the rising Sun.

From here we can have a glimpse of the whole range of Naneghat and the forts near Murbad.

Watchtower of the Harishchandragad

Balekilla

Balekilla is the highest peak on Harishchandragad after the Taramati peak. Many trekkers come from different directions and go directly to the Harishchandragad temple or cave. Very few people know where Harishchandragad fort is and they return without going to Balekilla.

The Balekilla is elevated at the southern end of ‘Ganesh Sond’, which extends to Pachnai village in the north. The top of the fort is not very high so you can reach the top in half an hour. Top of Balekilla holds long walls all-around at the top and ruined gate, the palace of fort chief, water tanks also damaged to keep water till summer.

The fortification is believed to have been built under the Shilahara dynasty of Maharashtra to build a watchtower and to guard the Shiva temple.

Caves that tell you the story of 04 eras

Kedareshwar Caves

Going rightwards of Harishchandreshwar temple, we come across a huge cave. This is the cave of Kedareshwar, in which there is a big Shivling, which is totally surrounded by water. The total height from its base is five feet, and the water is waist-deep. It is quite difficult to reach the Shivling because the water is ice-cold. There are sculptures carved out here. In monsoon, it is not possible to reach this cave, as a huge stream flows across the way.

The Shivling is surrounded by four pillars that essentially represent the four yugas of life on earth. The general belief is that the current phase is Kaliyuga. The day the fourth pillar breaks down will be considered the end of this era.

Sacred water tanks

Saptatirtha Pushkarni

To the east of the temple is a well-built lake called “Saptatirtha”. On its bank are temple-like constructions in which there are idols of Lord Vishnu. Recently these idols have been shifted in the caves near the temple of Harishchandreshwar.

Holy place from 12th Century

Harishchandreshwar Temple

This temple is a marvellous example of the fine art of carving sculptures out of stones that prevailed in ancient India. It is about 16 m high from its base. Around this temple, there are a few caves & ancient water tanks. The river Mangal Ganga is said to originate from one of the tanks located close to the temple.

The top of the temple resembles construction with the North-Indian temples. A similar temple is situated in Buddha-Gaya. Here we can see many tombs, in which a typical construction is seen. These are built by well-finished arranging stones one on top of the other. There are three main caves near the temple. The cisterns near the temple provide drinking water.

A short distance away, another temple called Kashitirtha is located. The fascinating thing about this temple is that it has been carved out from a single huge rock. There are entrances from all four sides. On the main entrance, there are sculptures of faces. These are the faces of the guards of the temple. On the left side of the entrance is a Devanagari inscription, which is about saint Changdev.

At Khireshwar Village

Nageshwar Temple

This is a great antique construction, and diverse artistic works are seen on this. On the ceiling of the temple are carvings. The main attraction of the carvings here is the 1.5 m long sculpture of Lord Vishnu in the sleeping posture, popularly known as “Sheshshayi Vishnu” in Marathi. It is rare and hence holds a lot of importance. There are a lot of legends told about this sculpture. There are caves near the temple.

Trek organized by SG-Trekkers

HARISHCHANDRAGAD

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