Malhargad – Sonori Fort – near Dive Ghat
Malhargad, also known as Sonori fort, is a relatively unknown fort very close to Pune city. This is supposed to be last fort built under the Maratha empire. The fort is named after Malhari, an avatar of Shiva. The locals know it as Sonori fort, named after the base village.
Update (Aug 2019): The last few kms from the highway to the base is now a proper road. It further extends to the parking lot (earlier was a goat path). The last 300m are rocky, but i managed it in a Nano with some careful driving. Any car can make it to the parking lot. You can now search for “Malhargad Parking Lot” on Google Maps. Two views of the parking lot are given below.
Route to go to Malhargad fort (From Magarpatta City): The route is straightforward. Drive towards Saswad on the hadapsar-Dive Ghat route. Once you cross Dive Ghat, within 1.5 kms, you will see a narrow left turn with few shops. You should also see a small board mentioning Malhargad at this turn. If you don’t see this turn, ask anyone for Sonori Fort and they should guide you to this turn. Once you take the turn, you cross a small village and after that it is a drive of around 4-5 kms of
kuchcha road. Don’t worry, a Xylo and a swift managed it comfortably. Map given below.
Keep driving until a point you see the fort on your left (top left!) and you can’t drive any further. If you zoom in on the map above, the point marked just before the end point is the place i parked. From then on, there are two options. Just take the straight line climb to the left. This is a bit tricky.
The other option is to continue on the path to the right. This is an easy climb through a clear path to the base of the fort. You can now drive on this path to the parking lot. The last 10 ms are freestyle! You have to find your own way to the bottom of the guard tower.
Though it was loose rock towards the end, i managed to make it without falling, even while carrying advika!
The boundary of the fort is triangular in shape with a rectangular enclosure in the middle. Be a little careful as soon as you reach the top as there is a small well to the side which is not clearly visible. The view from the top is great. Because there are no other tall hills in the surroundings, the wind was crazy.
There is a narrow opening to go inside the central section right next to the pond. The pond seems to be very well built with a flight of steps leading down. The opening is not clear because of the wild shrubs and you have to scramble over rocks to get inside.
There are two temples inside the enclosure. I guess they are regularly visited going by their condition as they were well maintained. Once you cross the temple, close to the other edge, you will see a narrow path going down. You can easily miss this. Once you go down, you will come to the Maha Darwaza. This seems to be by design as the door is hidden from view from the bottom of the hill.
This fort is a good place to visit for a half day trip (3-4 hrs) with an easy climb in the midst of nature.