Before I begin I need to confess, this post should have come in much earlier. The plans to trek this ‘relatively simple’ fort was chalked out over a cup of ‘chai’ with the usual partners in crime – Amit and Rahul. This time around we had some interesting fact sharing about the biodiversity in the area by a young trekker and biodiversity enthusiast – Makarand. The idea was to bike, camp, hike !
Korigad is a fort located between Pune and Lonavala. The availability of a better access route from Lonavala makes it a favorite for trekkers from Mumbai and Pune alike.
Built somewhere before 1500 this fort stands tall 923m above sea level. A small village ‘peth shahapur’ is the nearest village at its base. Nearby this fort are the forts of Tikona, Lohgad, Tung and Visapur. All of these forts are a days trek and can be easily done with a guide or a frequenter. Named after a local goddess “Koraidevi” this fort is currently under renovation for restoring its heritage.
SPEAKING WHEELS is a group three of us have formed. As the name suggests we curate selective cycling experiences for enthusiasts around Pune, Mumbai and around. (Find us on Facebook). We got the basics ready and announced the ride and very soon we had a group of about fifteen cycling enthusiasts raring to go !! The date of the ride had arrived, we drove down to the starting point where all the bikes were offloaded. I hopped into the backup vehicle making sure all safety arrangements are in place and the ride began.
The riders were quickly off to a flying start. Negotiating inclines and turns as adrenaline started to kick in. The roads were dark but Speaking Wheels had ensured every bike was equipped with enough safety lights and reflectors. The riders wore helmets and reflective jackets making them visible prominently. The first few kilometers were the so called “killer turns”. Puffing and panting the riders negotiated this stretch skillfully making full use of gear combination and cadence. In no time, was the entire group taking their first pit stop. Sipping water at an open spot near a tree, the riders caught their breath as they exchanged notes about the incline.
The stretch that followed was relatively easy. Shining stars and a cool summers breeze ensured the riders marked their journey in the next couple of hours. Couple more pit stops and a good 18 odd kilometers later the sweating troupe thumped their chest at the base of Korigad. Shining under the moonlight the fort stood tall in all its glory. We gathered our stuff and marched up the fort after a quick meal.
There was enough to witness on our way to the campsite. Natures nocturnal sights were up on full display. Our first encounter was with a Praying Mantis calmly feasting on its prey. It continued to eat without bothering about the presence of our preying eyes. Bedazzled by its posture and calm the group snapped some shots and moved ahead. Our camp was set up at a nice camping spot on the trail leading up the fort. Enchanting stories filled the air through midnight. Laughter and experiences strengthened bonds just as sleep ensured relaxing of sore muscles.
The night was eventful with echoing barks by dogs around and a langur call around midnight. It was a clear indication of wild animal movement near the campsite. Tired after a long bike trip and hike the campers finally caught a few winks. Around 5.30 am the sun lit the sky in an artistic way. Most of us were up just before that and had started the day with the usual routine. Doc Shantanu Deshpande and yours truly lit a fire and worked on it to dish out delicious dollops of MAGGI. Smiles grew wider as Maggi filled plates made the rounds. After some more energy bites – the team packed up and began the trek up Korigad.
The trek was easy with some amazing views as we climbed up. There are two lakes on the top of the fort. A temple to its patron goddess Koraidevi also exists along with several smaller temples dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva. Koraidevi Temple has been recently renovated and has a 3 feet high Deepmala. Some more reconstruction can be seen just after you enter the fort. The wall of this fort is completely intact and one can walk along its entire perimeter (about 2 km). Its massive gate is also intact. Several ruins of older structures within the fort still exist. We can also see some of the cannons lying on the fort. The fort has 6 six cannons among which the largest one is called Laxmi Toph and is located near the Koraidevi temple.
The views from above were mesmerizing. The effort that went into trekking up the fort had eventually paid off. Views of the river below and the ‘infamous’ Amby Valley that stands magnanimously alongside is clearly visible. One of our curious and close watchers saw a beautiful baby snake that gracefully slithered on our hands as we cajoled it.
After a quick decent we hit the roads again cycling past some amazing curves and bends that we had missed to notice the previous night. The tree cover made the ride enjoyable. The ride was easier downhill with relatively less pedalling to do. The Sun kept its distance at times but came down hard other times. In about just over 90 minutes we gathered back at the base camp to bid goodbye to each other. Ranging from teenagers to senior citizens the group was filled with some amazing people.
Getting There and Other Tips
The Korigad fort trek can be done at any time of the year. Personally, I would recommend you trek during the monsoons, The entire topography is lush green. The foggy weather is worth the experience. In summer season it becomes excessively hot at the top, so try to start trekking as early as 6 am.
You can drive down from Lonavala (closest railway station), or take a cab. Remember to arrange for you transportation back to Lonavala as cabs/autos are not easily found nearby the fort. Buses do ply with limited frequency. Trains ply frequently from Mumbai/Pune to Lonavala.
Food Options – Food can be bought from the restaurant at the base of Korigad. The restaurant closes at 10 pm so take required measures to stock water, food well before that.
The nearest medical store would be atleast 15 kms away. Kindly carry all medicines before you leave Lonavala.
Some parts of the fort have patchy cellphone network, so it is advisable to finish communications before the trek.