The Peth fort, also known as Kothaligad is ready to take you on a historic stroll near Karjat. The Western Ghats’ folds and valleys create a perfect terrain for trekkers to climb the forts nestled in Sahyadris. Majority of the forts in Maharashtra reside in Sahyadris which was strategic and convenient for Maratha rulers to watch over the valley or any foreshadowing enemy attack.
Peth fort is located in Peth, Raigad District which is approximately 90 kms from Mumbai and 125 kms from Pune. The fort is built at an elevation of 2000 ft which used to be the watchtower for Marathas. The fort’s smart architectural decision of chimney/thumb-like summit structure overlooks the valley and nearby peaks of Matheran, Bhimashankar and forts like Malanggad, Chanderi fort and Siddhagad. The trek trail is fairly easy and perfect for budding trekkers to commence their passion for trekking.
The base village of the trek is Ambivli. The Peth region is not so developed hence it is recommended you travel via a bike or hire a private vehicle to Ambivli. The trek is short distance and doesn’t take much time to complete. The one way duration is 2-3 hours even if you walk at a slow pace. The base village can be accessed by disembarking at Karjat Railway Station, the closest railway station to Kothaligad. There are many trains on the Central Line which go to Karjat from Mumbai. Once you reach Karjat station, there are many taxis which can take you to the base village of Ambivli. However, for trekkers traveling from Pune, they would need to travel via Lonavala through Mumbai – Pune Express Highway.
Here are great places worth walking during this monsoon Visit here!
Since the fort resides inside the territories of Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga Wildlife, the trek trail consists of tremendous greenery, several waterfalls and jungle. The fort is partly ruined yet the climb makes it worth it due to its unique caves with intricately designed pillars,temple and summit view. The fort also has preserved cannons and ammunition from ancient times which adds value to the place. The caves, stairs carved on stones inside the fort will trigger your imagination to think about the strategies and calculations that were made to design the fort.
Since this is a monsoon trek, the climb is less exhausting due to the lush greenery and clouds and waterfalls that drench you with the cool misty air. The best season to visit Kothaligad is June-Sept when the state receives the most rainfall. During the dry seasons like winter or summer, the weather is equally hot and humid. The monsoons bring out the best of this place with rolling clouds and drizzle through the jungle.
The entire area and valley is nothing but wide green meadows, open fields and mountain peaks. The base Ambivli village has hotels and food stalls where you can have lunch/breakfast after your. Another nearby attraction include Ambivli Buddhist Caves. The caves are situated at the bank of a river, so you can visit the caves, admire the river. The Peth and the village area have no concrete roads which lead you through a single narrow mud road with green fields on both sides.
☆ About Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga –
Bhimashankar is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and five among the ones in Maharashtra. It is located in the lofty ranges of Sahyadris and at its farthest end. This offers a unique trekking experience in Maharashtra and at the same time in Western Ghats. According to mythological stories, Bhimashankar gets its name from an evil Asur Bhima, son of Kumbhakaran who is vanquished by Shankar (Lord Shiva). Since, Lord Shiva is believed to be residing in these majestic ranges of Sahyadris in the form of Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga.
Do visit the Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga Temple in the wildlife reserve. Attend the morning Aarti as early as 5.30 am!
Apart from Kothaligad, Karjat and Sahyadris are famous go-to spots of Mumbaikars for weekends. There are many farmstays, weekend villas and second homes where people visit to escape the city on the other extreme. Matheran is the famous hill station near Karjat which is the only non-motorized hill station in india. To travel within Matheran, one can opt for horse rides, pull carts or walk. The hill station can be accessed by private car/local taxis which take you to the entry point from Neral station. And from then on you either walk following the toy train rail lines or opt for horse riding till the summit. It is the most eco-friendly hill station within 100 km radius of Mumbai.