Travel

Manikgad Fort: A Trek to Fortress and Temple

Manikgad Fort

Manikgad Fort, situated in Gherakilla Manikgad, India, is a historic mountain fortress and temple nestled amidst picturesque rolling hills. This location serves as a favored hiking destination for adventure enthusiasts. Originally constructed to monitor the trade route from Maval (Pune) to coastal ports, the fort carries significant historical importance.

The fort is conveniently located near Vashivali (Rasayani MIDC), just 27 km away from Panvel. Its strategic positioning offers not only scenic beauty but also a glimpse into the region’s historical trade routes.

Pre Trek

As a part of our cycling group, we always look forward to planning treks during the monsoon season and right after it, exploring the scenic locations near Mumbai City.

For the 2023 season, our group decided to embark on a third trek to Manikgad Fort, a destination that sees relatively fewer trekkers, resulting in a less crowded experience. Our group organizer collaborated with a friend and their group, forming a total of 22 trekkers who were eager to conquer the summit together.

To ensure smooth logistics, we followed our usual practice of reconfirming the number of participants one day prior to the trek. Our plan was to gather at a designated meeting point by 5:45 am, with the intention to commence our journey promptly at 6:00 am from Malad to reach the base camp.

Trekking Day

Around 7 am, we reached Panvel and had a joyful reunion with our counterparts from the other group. With everyone regrouping, we embarked on our journey together toward the base camp located near Savane Village.

Thanks to our considerate group organizer, we were equipped with a packed breakfast, allowing us to savor our meal in the car and save time. As a result, we arrived promptly at the base camp, ready to commence our trek.

At 8:50 am, we parked our vehicles at the base camp and began our ascent to the summit. The trek was classified as an easy grade, with a clearly marked trail to follow. However, there were a few instances where trekkers lost their way due to trail diversions.

During our trek, we also encountered two occasions where we veered off course, once while ascending and once while descending. However, our group organizer promptly called us back and directed us toward the correct trail, ensuring we stayed on track.

We were fortunate to experience a continuous shower from the rain god throughout the day, keeping the climate cooler and enhancing our trekking experience.

The trek delighted us with its lush green trail, weaving through dense forests and offering breathtaking views of the surrounding area and mountains.

By 10:05 am, we reached the halfway point, a vast stretch of the plateau. Here, we took a break, capturing precious moments through photographs. We also had the opportunity to photograph a local lady who was carrying leaves and a large axe.

After a short break, we resumed our journey at 10:25 am, determined to reach the summit as early as possible.

During our journey, we encountered a group who had turned back to the base camp as they were unable to find the trail to the summit, citing a landslide and the loss of the trail. Taking their experience into account, we proceeded with caution, keeping their warning in mind. Although we briefly missed the trail and took the wrong path, our group organizer quickly called us back, redirecting us toward the correct route.

As the clock struck 11:30 am, a collective sense of accomplishment washed over us as we stood triumphantly at the summit.

The Summit

The view was breathtaking and the clouds took over with heavy winds and showers. I started looking around thinking of the strenuous trek, filled with challenging terrains and unexpected twists, had finally led us to this moment of victory. A mixture of exhilaration and relief filled the air as we basked in the glory of our achievement.

Gazing upon the panoramic views from the summit, we were rewarded with a breathtaking sight. The majestic mountains stretched as far as the eye could see, cloaked in a lush tapestry of greenery. The vast expanse of nature unfolded before us, serving as a testament to the beauty and grandeur of the natural world.

We embraced the feeling of accomplishment, cherishing the memories we had forged during the arduous journey. The camaraderie within the group had grown stronger, fuelled by the shared moments of perseverance, encouragement, and laughter along the way. The challenges we had faced together had united us, creating an unbreakable bond forged in the crucible of adventure.

Amidst our celebration, we took the time to reflect on the significance of our achievement. It wasn’t just about reaching the summit; it was about the personal growth, determination, and resilience that had carried us through the arduous climb. We had pushed beyond our limits, defying our own expectations and proving that with determination, anything is possible.

With hearts filled with a profound sense of accomplishment, we paused to capture the moment in our memories. The summit represented not only a physical triumph but also a testament to the human spirit’s indomitable nature. It reminded us that with passion, determination, and a shared sense of purpose, we could conquer any obstacle that stood in our way.

Manikgad Fort

The remnants of Manikgad Fort stand today, a mere echo of its former grandeur, revealing fragments of its storied past. Within these remnants, lies the remarkable rock-cut cistern known as “Darya Take,” carrying immense historical value. The fort’s dilapidated walls still house a small Shiva Linga and a collection of modest rock-cut cisterns, each whispering tales of the fort’s bygone glory. However, it is the Ganesh gate that stands resilient, the lone structure that has withstood the ravages of time, proudly offering a glimpse into the fort’s majestic history.

Just before entering the Manikgad Fort, there lies a cistern on the plain, marking our passage. Moving forward, we traverse the crumbling fortifications on the eastern side, making our way into the fort. Once inside, our eyes are drawn to a circular grooved channel, hewn in stone, a testament to the lime mixing practices of the past. From here, two paths unfold, one leading north and the other south. By proceeding straight, we reach the north-facing entry doorway of the fort, now in ruins. Adjacent to the door, a small dome structure holds an idol adorned with sacred red lead powder paint (Shendur).

The second, south-facing doorway serves as the fort’s main entry point. Its square frame remains intact, adorned with a carving of Lord Ganesha on the upper mantle. Crossing through this doorway, we step onto the summit of the Manikgad Fort. To the right, a large yet crumbling architectural structure awaits, while ahead lies the fort’s largest water tank. Continuing along the path, with the valley on our right, we encounter descending steps leading to the northern point of the fort, where a ruined bastion stands.

You will also see Chor Darwaja, a hidden escape doorway. A little further, we find two soil-filled water tanks, followed by a hollow area that houses the Shivpindi of Lord Shankara and Nandi, the sacred bull carrier of Lord Shiva. Nearby, a deteriorated idol adorned with sacred red lead powder (Shendoor) and four consecutive water tanks can be found. Among these tanks, the smallest one offers potable water suitable for drinking.

These remnants of Manikgad Fort transport us to a time of ancient glory, where history whispers its secrets through the stones and structures that have stood the test of time. Exploring the Manikgad Fort, we immerse ourselves in its rich heritage and unravel the stories that have shaped its identity.

The Descent

Embarking on our descent at approximately 12:40 pm from Manikgad Fort, a renewed sense of confidence and fulfillment enveloped us. We carried the memories of this remarkable journey, etched forever in our minds and hearts. The summit of Manikgad Fort would forever stand as a symbol of our unwavering spirit, a reminder that challenges are meant to be conquered, dreams are meant to be pursued, and victories are meant to be celebrated.

At a serene and picturesque plateau, our journey led us to a delightful halt. Our friend Sagar, who is not only a cherished companion but also our designated tea enthusiast, took charge of brewing a refreshing cup of tea for the group. Always prepared, Sagar carried a portable gas stove and the necessary ingredients, along with a collection of ten small steel tea glasses nestled safely in his backpack. These steel glasses served as a testament to our collective commitment to minimizing waste and embracing eco-friendly practices.

As Sagar skillfully prepared the tea, the clouds above began to gather, hinting at an imminent downpour. Anticipating the rain, we promptly opened two umbrellas to shield the area where our tea was being brewed. Undeterred by the weather, Sagar successfully crafted a steaming pot of tea, pouring it gracefully into the steel glasses.

Sagar Making Tea

Despite the heavy rains, our spirits remained high as we relished the flavorsome tea, savoring each sip amidst nature’s watery symphony. Mindful of our surroundings, we diligently cleaned the area afterward, leaving no trace of our presence except for the fond memories we had created. With our tea break concluded, we continued our journey, heading towards the base station, grateful for the warmth of friendship and the invigorating taste of tea that had accompanied us on this rain-soaked adventure.

During our descent from Manikgad Fort, we encountered a specific point where we inadvertently lost our way, resulting in the group splitting into two. I found myself among the group that had strayed off course. Although the situation could have caused anxiety, I felt reassured as we had a seasoned trekker named Bhavesh accompanying us.

With his expertise, he calmly led our group of 11 people, determined to find the trail we had missed. After a brief exploration, Bhavesh located the correct path and guided us back on track. Walking along the trail, a sense of familiarity washed over us, reminiscent of our ascent earlier in the day. Attempting to communicate with the other group, we utilized a designated sign to indicate that we were “ALL OK,” but unfortunately, no response reached our ears.

Taking a much-needed break near a flowing stream, we immersed ourselves in its refreshing waters, rejuvenating our weary bodies and revitalizing our spirits. After spending about 15 minutes in the water, we resumed our journey, eager to reunite with the rest of the group awaiting us at the base station.

Upon reaching the base camp, we refreshed ourselves, replenishing our energy for the journey back. At 4:15 pm, we embarked on the return leg, retracing our steps and reflecting on the adventure that had unfolded throughout the day.

Summary

Maharashtra boasts a wealth of historical treasures, and the forts scattered across the state stand as living testaments to its rich past. Among these remarkable fortresses, Manikgad Fort holds a special place. I highly recommend visiting Manikgad Fort to witness the awe-inspiring architecture of the bygone era and to take in the panoramic views of the surrounding area. It is an experience that will transport you back in time and leave you in awe of the grandeur and cultural heritage that Maharashtra has to offer.

FAQ’s

Where is Manikgad Fort located?

Manikgad Fort is situated in Gherakilla Manikgad, India, nestled amidst rolling hills.

What is the historical significance of Manikgad Fort?

Manikgad Fort was originally built to oversee the trade route from Maval (Pune) to coastal ports. It carries significant historical importance, serving as a testament to the region’s historical trade routes.

How far is Manikgad Fort from Panvel?

Manikgad Fort is conveniently located near Vashivali (Rasayani MIDC), approximately 27 km away from Panvel.

What is the best time to visit Manikgad Fort?

Manikgad Fort can be visited throughout the year, but the best time to visit is during the monsoon season or right after it, when the surroundings are lush and green.

What are the trekking arrangements for visiting Manikgad Fort?

For trekking to Manikgad Fort, it is recommended to plan the trek with a group. Prior logistics arrangements, such as confirming the number of participants and meeting points, should be made.

Are there any trekking challenges or diversions on the trail?

While the trek to Manikgad Fort is considered an easy-grade trek with a proper trail, there have been instances of trekkers losing their way due to trail diversions. It is important to stay cautious and follow the correct path.

What are some notable features of Manikgad Fort?

Manikgad Fort is now in ruins, but remnants of the fort still exist. Notable features include the rock-cut cistern called “Darya Take,” a small Shiva Linga, and a collection of rock-cut cisterns. The Ganesh gate stands as the only intact structure. Additionally, there is a circular grooved channel in the fort for lime mixing.

What can visitors expect at the summit of Manikgad Fort?

At the summit, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area, which is adorned with majestic mountains and lush greenery. It is a rewarding experience that showcases the natural beauty of the region.

Are there any nearby forts or attractions worth exploring?

Yes, there are several nearby forts and attractions that can be explored, including Karnala, Prabalgad, Chanderi, Malang gad, Irshalgad, Sondai, Lohagad, Visapur, and Sankshi forts. These offer additional opportunities for adventure and historical exploration.

What facilities or precautions should be considered during the trek?

Visitors are advised to carry essentials like food, water, proper trekking gear, and necessary safety precautions. It is important to respect the environment, practice responsible tourism, and leave no trace behind.

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5 comments

Sailesh jain July 9, 2023 at 4:43 pm

Totally agree with your wonderful coverage above, its an outstandingly beautiful trek, a must do for all trekkers.

Reply
Aurobinda July 9, 2023 at 4:47 pm

I am honoured to be part of this trek @ Manikgad, the experience was absolutely mesmerising and team out there was so cooperative and nice. Most interestingly found many of them are pro in trekking. The AO and OA indicators are something new I found and very helpful.

AO: all okay

Life is good when you go to the top,

Reply
Utpal July 9, 2023 at 5:10 pm

Very nice read. Detailed and informative. Will look forward to more such gems

Reply
Sowmya July 9, 2023 at 5:46 pm

What a wonderful description! Though I trekked, I didn’t know of the details of the fortress. This blog is very well articulated and every detail worth preserving in the memory have been captured.

Reply
Pritesh Chawla July 11, 2023 at 10:15 am

Got to know the insight of this awesome Manikgad fort. I have added to my TO DO list. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Reply

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