Trek to Purandar fort – in the rain
Purandar fort near Saswad/Narayanpur is one of the easier hill forts to trek to. It takes around 45 minutes to 1 hr to get to the top of the plateau and a further 30 min walk would take you to the remnants of the fort. It was monsoon time and one saturday morning, we (Parthipan, Rajesh and I) decided to go to this fort. Though it was drizzling, we started from Pune at around 5.30 in the morning.
How to go to Purandar fort from Pune(Magarpatta): The route is pretty straightforward. Go towards hadapsar. Take a left on the Solapur road. Go to the side of the flyover. At one point, you will see the bus stand on the right. Here, you have to go on the wrong side (legally), then come around the bus stand. This will take you to the road to Saswad. Keep going on this road until you reach Saswad. At Saswad, take a right towards Narayanpur. Once you are on this narrow (but smooth) road for some time, you will see a hill prominently on the left. There will be a small lane (marked by a board in Marathi with Shivaji’s photo). This is the road towards Purandar fort. It doesnt take more than an hour to reach Purandar from Pune (even under regular traffic conditions). Once you cross Hadapsar, the road to Saswad is relatively traffic free.
View Larger Map
When we reached there, we were only ones at the base of the trail. There is a 7 km long kuchcha road which you can take to reach the plateau (to avoid the 1 hr climb). Since it was drizzling, we were standing at the base thinking of which option to choose. Then a couple came in a Pajero and started preparing to trek up. Then i told them that i was thinking as it looked like it would rain heavily. The guy cheerfully said “So what? if it rains, get wet and enjoy!” Hats off to this attitude. Maharashtrians do really love getting wet in the rain as i saw in Lonavala and at Bushi dam. So, my decision was made, we were to trek up. But, i had a camera to protect too. So, in the pretext of protecting the camera, i borrowed the raincoat from Rajesh. So, i was all packed up while Rajesh and Parthi were exposed to the elements. But, they enjoyed it.
The above picture is the start of the trail to the top of the hill. Since this was our first time in Purandar, we had no idea of how long it would take or how difficult/easy it would be. There are actually multiple routes up the hill. As long as you keep going up and your orientation is ok, you should manage to reach the plateau. Our climb up the hill was pretty slow as i would stop every other minute to say the conventional “wow”s about the scenery about us. This was the first time i had ever trekked in the rain (apart from being caught in an expected cloudburst on the Kalidonia waterfalls train in Cyprus) and i loved every minute of it. it was tricky trying to get photos fast enough so as to not wet the lens. You can also see my Xylo (and the other Pajero) parked at the base of the hill.
We got lost somewhere mid-way and started drifting towards the left and going on pretty narrow tracks. Then we met a villager coming down and he asked us stick on to the rocky sections and keep following the trail. With the rain causing a continuos cascade of water on the trail, it was pretty slippery at times, but it was fun. At the end of the trek, my clothes were a slushy mess! At one point, the trail goes through a thick maze of shrubs, which was pretty cool.
The villager asked to keep going ahead until we hit a wall. At this point, we had to turn left to reach the plateau. As we neared the wall, structures started becoming visible through the heavy mist.
Once you take the left from the wall, it is a steady climb to the top. This path is full of rocks and can be quite difficult in the rain. It was particularly slippery with the flow of the water. We still didnt know where we were heading as the mist was quite thick. There is also a small waterfall on this route where you can get wet if you feel that rainwater is not enough.
Once you climb the last stretch of rocks, you reach the top of the plateau and enter through a door called the Dilli Darwaza. You can actually drive up to this point by taking the road, but it definitely is more fun to walk up.
Once on the plateau, you will find an abandoned church and lot of other structures. The end of the road is actually a place maintained by the army.
You will also see a small temple dedicated to Purandeshwar deity, after which the fort/hill takes it name. We spent some time walking around the temple and photographing the awesome “green”. You have to climb the steps and then go beyond the temple to actually go to the fort. it is a another 30 min walk from here. Due to some time constraint, we decided to turn back and decided to visit the fort some other day.
On our way back, when we reached the wall, we were surprised to see dozens of people starting the trek. There were few organised groups, few individuals and even a family with a small boy. It is really fascinating to see the interest in trekking in this part of India. We spent a total of around 4 hours on this trip and it was worth every minute of it. If you have never been on a trek before, this is a good place for that “first” trek.