It was the Independence Day; hence we decided to do a relatively short trek to the birth place of Shivaji Maharaj, the Shivneri Fort..! The journey started at around 7:00 am where we took the Pune-Nashik road. The best road to Shivneri is to go via Rajgurunagar -> Peth -> Narayangaon -> Junnar -> Shivneri, however I took a diversion at Peth into village roads in a hope of capturing some landscapes and birds. After taking the village road from Peth, we were in for a surprise. The hot sunny weather in Pune suddenly became cloudy followed by heavy rains.
(Scroll to the end of the post for images)
Luckily the rains stopped soon enough and we reached a point where I captured one of my best landscape shots till date. We also crossed quite a no. of beautiful streams and couple of lovely lakes. This place was good for birding as well with sightings of the Pied Kingfisher, Malabar Lark (Lifer for me :D), Black shouldered Kite, Laughing Dove, White throated Kingfisher, Spot billed Duck, Long tailed shrike, Bay backed shrike and Jacobin cuckoo.
Driving further we reached a small patch rough road (Around 2-3 Kms) after which we were at the backwaters of Vadaj Dam. Going further we got to a junction where-in we saw the 1st signboard to Shivneri Fort. A left at this junction leads to Shivneri fort and a right will take you to Pimpalgaon Joga Dam and Malshej Ghats. There is decent amount of Parking space for parking cars and bikes. We started the trek and were surprised to see how well the fort has been maintained. All the gates are properly named and even the different types trees have been identified and tagged. There are many gates all along, Maha Darwaja, Mena Gate, Ganesh Gate, Kulup Gate and so on.
It is a walk for around a km or so and you almost reach the top of the fort. Once we were at the top, we could see the flag hosted right in-front of a temple. This temple has idols of Jijabai (Mother of Shri Shivaji) and Shivaji in his childhood. Few meters away from the temple, you can see another building which is the birth place of Shivaji Maharaj. It has his idol as well his cradle. The gates were closed however I still managed to get couple of shots. The fort also exhibits a small water pond named Badami Talav, located right next to the Birth place of Shivaji Maharaj.
Going further ahead, you reach a point called Kadelot from where you can see the entire city of Junnar. Kadelot is the spot where prisoners were punished to death by throwing them down the fort. After capturing some good landscape views, we headed back towards the temple and continued on the fort trail behind the temple. This trail leads to a Dargah on the fort. This is probably the highest point on the fort. This trail further joins the original fort trail; hence you complete a full circle around the fort. All along the trail you would get some lovely landscape views. Soon we reached back where the fort trail started and started to walk down. While coming down, we visited the Shivai temple. One needs to take a left while descending from the fort (There is big signboard). We saw quite a no. of birds on the fort as well, especially bulbuls , small minivets, common tailorbirds. I also managed to click couple of butterflies this time; the Common leopard and Great eggfly (Credits to my friend Sandip Telang for ids).
It is a pretty small fort and hence we reached back to the car parking by 2:00 pm. Since we had time on our hands, we decided to drive upto Malshej and come back. The roads to Malshej are one of the most picturesque roads I have seen. It was lush green all around and surrounded by peaks. Before the Malshej ghat, we drove through another small ghat. Once we crossed this ghat, we joined the Mumbai Nashik Highway. Driving for another 1-2 Kms, we reached a small bridge which is built over the backwaters of Pimpalgaon Joga Dam and this is where I got my 2nd Lifer of the day! We saw at-least 50 river terns, flying low over the water and hunting for fish. Driving ahead we went all the way upto the Malshej MTDC resort which was super crowded. The resort also offers a point from where you get a good view of the entire ghats. I did get a good view, of the ghats as well of the crowd all along the ghat. We decided to skip it this time and do a Malshej ghat trip in one of the weekdays when it would be less crowded. Here are some of the images we managed to capture 🙂
Yet another lovely trip; A beautiful drive towards the most talked about ghats around Pune which is surely worth the buzz!! And a small fort but of architectural brilliance! Being atop the birth place of Shivaji Maharaj on the Independence Day couldn’t have been better.
How to reach
1. Take the Pune Nashik road, drive via Chakan -> Rajgurunagar -> Peth -> Narayangaon -> Junnar. From Junnar, if you follow the road it joins the Mumbai Nashik highway which leads to Malshej Ghat. For Shivneri fort, take a left immediately after Junnar.
1. Carry packed lunch. There are food options but not great. At Shivneri you do have good refreshments like Tea, Kokam and Fresh lime.
2. Avoid going to Malshej on weekends and holidays. People drink and drive pretty rashly.
3. Keep the place clean.
Drive safe and enjoy 🙂
– Rudraksha & Shraddha