Harishchandragad and Kokan Kada – A Trekker’s Paradise

“You need special shoes for Hiking and a bit of of a special soul as well”

I had heard and read about the beauty of Harishchandragad and Kokan Kada,it is an absolute delight for trekkers as it rewards you with such spectacular views that has to be seen to be believed especially just after the monsoon when the place is resplendent with wild flowers of different hues this season the colour is yellow.You will find endless carpet of these flowers adorning the mountains with specks of green in between.So after discussing with my daughter I booked the trek with Darkgreen Adventures.

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Flowers Blooming on a rock amidst lush Greenery

          Harishchandragad lies at an elevation of 4665 ft.There are seven routes to Harishchandragad via Naalichi Vaat (most difficult one), Sadhale Ghat,Taramati Ghat,Tolar Khind via Khireshwar,Junnar Darwaza via Khireshwar ,another approach to Tolar Khind from north side of the Pass and via Pachnai village being the easiest one. While the one via Khireshwar village being the most preferred one by the trekkers due to its scenic beauty.

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Wild Flowers 

We took the easier route via Pachnai.We packed the essential things and the first thing that went in my bag was my smart phone along with the power bank.And I was reminiscing about my childhood travels when the essential packing was quite different from what we pack now.Our life now revolves totally around our smart phones. 🙂 As scheduled we took the 9.32 pm Kasara Local from Thane platform no 5 and reached Kasara at 11.30 pm the train got late 25 minutes from its scheduled time of 11.05 pm. As we neared Kasara there was a drop in the mercury and the weather was cool compared to the sweltering heat of Mumbai. We all met at the ticket counter and we were a group of 9 including the trek leader Krishna.

            We got ourselves comfortable in the waiting sumo our first halt was at “Baba Ka Dhaba” a popular highway Eatery which is open through out the night.

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Baba Ka Dhaba

Most of us had already finished with dinner but some people did not,so those who wanted to eat ordered some food and we ordered lemon tea and coffee.We did the customary intro round while sipping on our tea and coffee and filling up the mandatory indemnity forms.

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Introduction Round

We moved around 00.30 hrs and started our drive to Pachnai village.We drove through the Mumbai-Nasik highway. As the vehicle sped through the narrow hilly roads I peered through the dark I found we sped through number of villages like Ghoti and Rajur  and we passed the Bhandardara Dam too.The first half of the drive was smooth and then started the bumpy ride but it was not very bad( I have endured worse rides in Sikkim and Ladakh)

Inspite of the Bumpy ride the cool breeze lulled us to slumber and we were trying to hold our heads so as to not to bang ourselves to the person sitting next to us ! The drive was exactly 3 hours and we reached Pachnai homestay at 03.30 hrs

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Pachnai Village

Pachnai is a small hamlet containing about 155 houses till the last census.It was 03.45 by the time we made ourselves comfortable and we had exactly an hour to rest I set an alarm and lay down to sleep but sleep elluded me and soon I found the alarm prodding me to get up.Not familiar with the layout of the house I somehow managed to find myself out, using the stored water from the huge syntex tanks I brushed and washed my face.

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The Homestay

I found everyone still sleeping, I woke up my protesting daughter who at that time seemed sleep was more important than the exciting trek.Slowly people got up and we were all ready by 04.50.As soon as we got out of the house we were greeted by the cold crisp mountain air.There was a nip in the air and we pulled up our hoodies.A bit of warming up exercises and we were all set to start the trek sharp at 5 am.

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Warm Up Outside the Home

           We first stopped for a group photo clicked by the trek leader.

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Group Photo before the Trek in the morning

After walking for 15 minutes  there was a steep climb the railings on the side were helpful. Since it was dark we had to be careful and we took help of our torches to  illuminate our way. As soon as we finished climbing it started drizzling so out came the rain jackets for we were more worried about our phones and cameras than getting wet ourselves.

         The climb was steep through rugged and jagged rocks,it stopped raining and we were soon sweating in our rain jackets and took a break to remove it and put it back into the bag.An hour of walking when we could see the first specks of light and we found nature slowly unfolding its treasures.

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Nature Unfolding its Treasures !

Halfway through the trek we reached a bridge. Although it was foggy Krishna clicked some fairly clear photographs.

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The Bridge

We continued walking and walked under a cliff with water spraying on us at first, we thought it was raining but we were delighted to find that it was water from the waterfall overhead.

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IMG-20180924-WA0042Speechless I just stood to admire and click photographs. 🙂 I didn’t know that this was just the beginning and much more captivating scenes lie ahead) a prodding from the trek leader to move ahead as photographs can be clicked on our way back.I breathed lungs full of the fresh mountain air and continued walking, After walking for about one hour forty five minutes we reached the waterfall which was also the time for a short break.

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Break Time

We took off our backpacks and relaxed and enjoyed the beauty all around.We replenished ourselves with fruits dry fruits,cold drinks and snacks.

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Enjoying the Refreshments

Our trek leader who is a responsible trek leader did not allow us to litter and we put back all plastic dabbas and packets in our bags and we threw the fruit peels and seeds in the surrounding bushes for that would be manure to the plants. After 15 minutes ie around 7 am replenished and rested we resumed the trek.

            The trail was now a mud trail through the forest where the only hurdle were the thick roots of the trees.

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The Muddy Trail

Half an hour of walking and we had our first sighting of the endless carpets of the beautiful yellow blooms.They were blooming on rocky patches on the mountains as well as the fields. Overjoyed we clicked endless pictures of the blooms.

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The Endlesss Carpet of the Yellow Blooms

We soaked into the beautiful scenery and the salubrious climate of the place.The whole area was engulfed into a fog and sometimes the visibility was quite poor.

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Poor Visibility

We walked on large flat rocky patches with beautiful wild flowers of different shades of yellow,white,purple and pink growing on them.

Beautiful Flowers of Harishchandragad and Kokan kada

We reached the Harishchandreshwar Temple at around 8 am, we would make a stop while descending.

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Harishchandreshwar Temple(PC : Apurva )

We proceeded further to the plateau where we would make a halt for breakfast at a local stall.

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The Local Food Stall( PC : Shekhar)

Some of us freshened up here, we washed our hands and face and got all set for breakfast.We sat and chit chatted and enjoyed the beautiful foggy weather.

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Waiting for Breakfast

Eating hot Poha sitting in the wild with fog all around was a indeed novel experience.The Poha and the tea did quieten my rumbling and protesting stomach.

         We decided to proceed to Kokan kada at about 9.30 am   which is a half an hour trek from Harishchandragad. Kokan kada is a cliff.This cliff faces west and looks down upon the Konkan. It provides views of the surrounding region. The cliff has an overhang. Sometimes a circular rainbow (the Broken  spectre phenomenon) can be seen from this point. It can be seen only when there is a bit of mist in the valley, and the sun is right behind the person facing the valley. One phenomenon that can be observed at this place is the vertical cloud burst, in which the clouds nearing the cliff get sucked into the pit fall area below and are thrown vertically into the sky reaching more than 50 feet (15 m), creating the impression of a wall that is rising straight from the edge of the cliff without entering the landmass area.

Broken Spectre – It’s your own shadow that you see, cast on the surface of the mists below, surrounded by a halo-like ring of light. The sun must be behind you. You’re seeing your shadow projected in front of you, through the mist.

     The route to Kokan Kada is dotted with wild flowers and small streams.The steep rocky patch gets a bit slippery so be careful and wear shoes with a good grip.

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The Steep Slippery Climb to Kokan Kada( PC : Krishna Kuya)

Although the sun peeped in once in a while but it was not enough to lift the fog.We were hoping and praying for the fog to lift so that we could view the kada.Since the fog was still there we decided to explore the place and marveled at the beauty of the place.

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Kokan Kada

We took endless photos and selfies with the beautiful yellow flowers.We located a small waterfall and enjoyed the cold water and the fish nibbling at our feet.(It was free fish pedicure) was a unique experience.

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Fish Pedicure ? (PC : Krishna Kuya)

We enjoyed the foggy weather and the mist,but due to the fog we could not view Kokan Kada and all the phenomenon associated with it.We were very disappointed and did not wait for we did not know when the fog would lift.Nature has its own way,and we also needed a reason to come back to this beautiful place once again so that’s a promise Kokan Kada I will come back and this time I plan to camp for the night watch the sunrise and sunset from this wonderful place.

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At the Waterfall while Descending(PC Krishna Kuya)

After spending about an hour and a half,we started descending at about 11.30 am, we reached the Harichandeshwar Temple at about 12 pm, just outside the main temple there is a small Ganesh Temple. The temple is surrounded by beautiful yellow flowers. After clicking a few pictures we then proceeded to the main temple.

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The Ganesh Temple Outside the Main Temple

Harichandeshwar Temple :- It is about 16 m high from its base.On the entrance you will find a board declaring it as a protected monument.As you descend the steps there is a Nandi Bull near the entrance of the temple.We worshiped the Shiva Linga and we did Parikrama of the temple, on the left there is another Ganesha statue smeared with sindoor(vermillion).We also found a small cave which was filled with water claimed to be potable drinking water.There are a few caves and water tanks in the vicinity of the temple.We spent about 20 minutes inside the temple.

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Harichandeshwar Temple (PC: Krishna Kuya)

After this we headed towards the east of the temple where there is a tank called “Saptatirtha”.

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Saptatirtha ( PC : Krishna Kuya)

There are temple-like constructions in which there were idols of Lord Vishnu. Recently these idols have been shifted in the caves near the temple of Harishchandreshwar.We sat on the periphery of the pond and clicked many group photographs.

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PC : Krishna Kuya

After that we proceeded to the Kedeshwar temple.

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Kedeshwar Temple

Our next stop was the Kedeshwar temple,which is towards the  right of Harishchandreshwar temple, there is a big Shiva Linga inside which is completely surrounded by water. Its height from the base is five feet, and the water is waist-deep. It is quite difficult to reach the Shiva Linga because the water is ice-cold.

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The Shiv Ling surrounded with Water( PC : Vishal)

 

There are sculptures carved out here. In the monsoon it is not possible to reach this cave, as a huge stream flows across the way.there is a huge rock above the Shiva Linga. There were four pillars built around the Shiva Linga. No one really knows the history about these pillars, but it is said that the pillars were built to depict the four ‘Yugas’ of Life – ‘Satya Yuga’, ‘Tretha Yuga’, ‘Dwapara Yuga’ and ‘Kali Yuga’. When a Yuga comes to the end of its time, one of the pillars is said to break down. Three of the pillars have already broken down. The general belief is that the current phase is the ‘Kali Yuga’ and the day the fourth pillar breaks down – it will be looked to as the last day of the current era.

             We got some magnificent views of the mountains from here and we started our onward journey at about 12.45 pm we reached the waterfall at about 1.30 pm and some of us took a break to have a dip in the cold waters,while others enjoyed themselves in the cold water  I took some spectacular shots of the beautiful mountains 

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The narrow path leading to our destination

We left the place at 2 pm and reached the home of Mr Bhaskar Badad(the same home where we stayed at night) for lunch at 3 pm.We crosssed paddy Fields as we neared the village.

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Lush Paddy Fields(Pc : Omkar)

We relished the hot bhakris,Thecha and Pithla, Rice, Dal and Mango pickle served lovingly by the women of the home.

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Simple Village Food

What really touched me was that the old lady kneaded the bajra flour for each bhakri one at a time so patiently, so that fresh hot bhakris could be relished by us.

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Grand Ma making hot Bhakris on the Chulha

We finished the lunch leisurely since we were already late for the 6.15 pm local.After a satisfying lunch we started our return journey to Kasara at about 4 pm.We enjoyed the beautiful drive,we drove through many villages like Rajur and Ghoti. We had taken the Igatpuri route The beautiful Bhandardara Dam was on the left. The driver Ramesh also showed us the famous Kalsubai Peak.We stopped at Ghatghar Dam at about 6.30 pm and clicked some beautiful pictures of the setting sun.

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Ghatghar Dam

It was the last day of Ganpati Visarjan and we passed many processions on the way.The road to Kasara station was blocked for vehicular traffic so we had to take a detour, we had ample time since we could now get only the 8.15pm local train.As we walked we saw many Ganesha idols taken for immersion and we too emotionally bid adieu to our favourite deity.We reached Kasara station at about 7.15pm the local train soon arrived and we secured window seats for ourselves.At Thane we missed the Panvel train and took the Vashi Train as, we had no energy left to wait for a Panvel train,we took an auto rickshaw for home from Vashi Station.By the time we reached home it was 11 pm after a shower and a hot cup of tea we narrated our experiences to our family members.After a quick dinner we soon knocked off to a well earned sleep.I thank Krishna of Darkgreen Adventures and all my Trek mates for this beautiful journey. I enjoyed every moment of the Trek.Special thanks to Bhushan & Omkar for being so sporting in helping me throughout the Trek.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature it will never fail you”

Trekking Tips

1) Wear good Trekking Shoes

2) Carry plenty of drinking water at least 2 litres(Preferably with Electral)

3) Carry a Cap,Sun Glasses and apply plenty of Sunscreen

4) If you are trekking during the monsoon then don’t forget to put your rainwear in your backpack

5) Carry your camera/mobile phone to capture all your trekking moments.

6) Carry some Fruits/Energy bars/Chocolates

7) Carry a torch fully charged/or extra batteries

8) A trekking Pole (optional)

How to get there:

Take the Kasara local from your respective boarding points.if you want to take the Pachnai route.The timings you can find in the M-indicator application.

   At Kasara station you will find many jeeps they charge 100/120 per person to     Rajur which is about 1 hour 45 minutes. From Rajur take a ST Bus the timings are 6 am and 11 am or a private vehicle.However check the timings before you start your trip. You can contact Mr Ramesh on 9922655116 to book a vehicle.                              

       Alternatively You can book yourself with any of the hiking adventure groups       like Darkgreen adventures or Mumbai Hikers. You can google, there are many groups available.They arrange a private vehicle to Pachnai which is lot more convenient than taking buses as there are no direct buses to Pachnai. They also arrange your food and camping/night stay if you wish to do so.If you already have a group you can hire a vehicle.The vehicle owner mostly arranges the homestay also.

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Harishchandragad and Kokan Kada – A Trekker’s Paradise

  1. Great

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  2. Wonderful account of the trek and useful info too! 🙂
    The trail from Pachnai is the easiest but reaching there is quite a task if one is using public transport. The jeep and bus timings will come in handy!
    Great pictures as always but when exactly did you go for the trek? As far as I know, there’s a very short window in late monsoon when the flowers are in full bloom after which they start wilting due to the increasing temperatures as the monsoon recedes.
    Cheers & keep trekking 🙂
    P.S There are seven routes to Harishchandragad- Pachnai, Nalichi Vaat, Sadhale Ghat, Taramati Ghal, Tolar Khind via Khireshwar, Junnar Darwaza via Khireshwar and another approach to Tolar Khind from the north side of the pass.

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    1. Thanks for the info. I knew about these three routes. I went on 22nd September

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for all the encouraging comments.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the info! I’ll try and pay another visit to the fort in mid/late September next time 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If you click on the poster of the hut where wwe ate our breakfast.krishna is the name of the place.You will find two phone nos they also do the arrange vehicles,homestay.Another person Maruti Bharmal his no is 8605325156.He stays on top so connectivity is a issue.You can message him in marathi he too arranges vehicles.You can get olas also from Mumbai to Pachnai.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you once again 🙂

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      4. hello…I updated my post using your info.Hope u dont mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Your post are so Professional. I appreciate that you like my amateurish attempts !

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I don’t mind at all 🙂
        And thank you for the appreciation as well! Your posts have a lovely, informal style of their own that makes reading them a joy!
        Cheers!

        Like

  3. Thanks for mentioning my name :p. Awesome description of the trek.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome.You made my trek possible. Please like and follow my blog😊

      Like

  4. Superb. Reena, u did an elaborate description with lovely pics too. I will come with u when u plan the next kokan kada trip. Awesome write up.

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  5. Hi Reena, how do you manage to keep yourself so active.. You might have doubly enjoyed it, your daughter being with you.. Affectionately, Bharati.

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