Harishchandragad trek via Pachnai is a easy difficulty grade trek in the Sahyadri – Igatpuri/Malshej region of Maharashtra, India. The highest point of the trek at 2625 ft (1422 m).
Visit this trek for its beautiful sunset, peaceful campsite, historical significance, and the possibility to bond deeply with the locals.
You Should Visit Harishchandragad if You..
Love Sunsets - The sunset that you will get to witness from Konkankada will be one of the more beautiful sunset you will ever see in your life. Konkankada is huge cliff that expanses over a few kilometres. There are no other tall mountains in front of this cliff for hundreds of kilometres to obstruct the view.
Love camping under the stars or in caves - Harishchandragad is a really popular hiking destinations for people from Mumbai and Pune and is always bustling with people. When you camp here, you get to meet and interact (efforts needed - tougher than climbing the mountain if you’re an introvert like me) with people from a huge variety of backgrounds.
Love to experience local culture: The family of Bhaskar and Nathuba, who serves and helps us with the accomodations is one of the sweetest locals that you will ever come across. “Aai” and “Nathuba”, the parents of Bhaskar, are a lovely bunch of people giving hugs and showering love to all the visitors. A lot of trekkers revisit this place just so they can meet the lovely locals again.
Love History - The Harishchandreshwar temple, the Kedareshwar cave, the Pushkarni, and the Ganesh caves are all some of the ancient structures dating back to 1st century AD.
Harishchandragad Trek Route (Via Pachnai)
The Pachnai-Harishchandragad route is the easiest of all the Harishchandragad routes. It take around 2 hours to hike this at normal pace. It begins with a small ascent followed by a flat patch and falling into an ascent again. You can see a lot of fireflies on this route if you visit this during the month of June.
This route has some metallic ladders & railings set up by the forest department to make the tough patches easier and safer to hike.
You will come across one stretch of the hike where you traverse through an exposed patch. Although this patch is wide enough, be careful. This is really picturesque.
There’s one infinity pool on this hike which you can jump into if it’s monsoon and the water is fresh. During other seasons, the water is not very clear and you might come with a weird smell.
This trek ends when you reach the Harishchandreshwar Temple on Harishchandragad. You can get your food and liquid, visit the Ganesh caves, get some rest, and later head over to Harishchandragad Balekilla, Taramati Peak, Harishchandreshwar temple, Kedareshwar Caves, and then Konkankada (Psst: Do not miss the sunset at Konkankada at any cost).
How to Reach Harishchandragad Trek Base Village - Pachnai
The trek from Pachnai village to Harishchandragad is of easy grade. That doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting though. It’s a 2-hour long ascend at an average pace and the entire route is filled with highly exposed patches, metal ladders, infinity pools, and ends with a scenic view of the valley behind. This is the route most preferred by the local folk who visit the Harishchandreshwar temple as well new trekkers.
This route should be avoided in monsoons. The route is blocked by a stream and this stream can get really aggressive, gushing with water, if the place receives heavy rainfall.
How to Reach Pachnai with Local/Public Transport?
If you are in a group of 7-10 people traveling from Mumbai, you can hire a Jeep from Kasara railway station that takes you to the village and drops you back to Kasara the next day (Or same day, based on your preference). The approximate cost for hiring the Jeep for 2 days would be 4500. You can contact Ananda who is a Jeep driver in Kasara and has a good network of other Jeep drivers that provide transportation services to Harishchandragad and all the other Hiking Destinations around this region.
Alternately, you can take shared cabs from Kasara railway station till Rajur for Rs. 80 per seat and take an ST bus till Pachnai from Rajur (around Rs. 40 ticket cost). There are very limited buses every day so please check the timings before you choose this option. Buses are also available between Rajur and Shivaji Nagar, Pune.
How to Reach Pachnai with Private Transport?
You can drive directly till Pachnai village from Mumbai as well as Pune. Remember that the last leg of the road is very bumpy and its best to know the conditions of the road before starting the journey. Your guide will help you decide whether it is a safe place to drive till Pachnai or not. Once you reach there, you can find a parking space near your guide’s house.
Availability of Resources on the Top of Harishchandragad
Drinking water is available in the temple almost throughout the year.
Maggi, snacks, packed food and traditional Maharashtrian style home-cooked food available near the temple as well as at Konkankada.
You can stay in the caves near the temple during monsoons. Camping facility available throughout the year. (Villagers provide tents on rent) near the temple as well as on Konkankada.
Local Contact for Harishchandragad Trek
Guide from Pachnai:
Bhaskar Badad: +91 8308081939
Food and Tents near the Temple:
Amol: +91 7057979437
Food near the Temple:
Vikas Bharmal: +91 7709826088
Food and Tents at Konkankada:
Bhaskar Badad: +91 8308081939
Transport from Kasara to Pachnai:
Ananda: +91 9823761312
Best Time to Visit Harishchandragad and Why
October to February:
The best season to visit Harishchandragad is winters when you can comfortably camp at Konkankada and the route becomes much safer as compared to monsoons. The nights at the top will be really chilly which will call for a comfortable bonfire.
October is not as pleasant in terms of the weather but the entire fort is blooming in hue to golden colors with Sonki flowers and it is one beautiful sight to witness.
Monsoons aren’t the best time to visit Harishchandragad because
a) you can camp at Konkankada, and
b) all the routes become risky since they have a lot of exposure.
There’s no cover for at least 2 Kms. around Konkankada to hide if it rains heavily. Although camping is possible near the temple, the weather gets really bad sometimes and the route is prone to landslides.
In spite of all these challenges, if there is one reason to visit Harishchandragad during monsoons then it is “Indravajra”. Also known as Broken Spectre, Indravajra is a phenomenon when the Valley beneath Konkankada is filled with clouds (mist) and the sun is right behind you (likely to happen before 11 AM). At that point of time, if you are lucky enough, you can see your shadow falling on the mist and the top of your head has a circular Rainbow. This is a rare sight and trekkers spend days on the fort just so they can witness this once.
Attractions at Harishchandragad
This is an ancient temple carved out of monolithic rock. Walking inside this temple will transfer you hundreds of years back into the past with its quiet, weathered, and ancient vibe.
This caves has a 5 feet tall Shivling surrounded by icy-cold water and 4 pillars (only one of them remains now). The folks from the villages believe that the 4 pillars represent the 4 Yugas of the world, viz.,
They believe that the end of Kalyuga will be marked by the disintegration of the 4th and last pillar.
The earlier the water used to be clear and people would take a dip in it. Nowadays it has become polluted, but you can visit this cave and check if it has been cleaned. The dip into the cold water will take away all the fatigue from your trek.
This is the highlight of Harishchandragad trek and a must-visit place for everyone. The sunset at Konkankada is really beautiful and if you get a chance to camp at the meadow near Konkankada, the experience will be awe-inspiring.
This place is also popular for the sighting of brocken spectre (a circular rainbow).
This is the highest point on the Harishchandragad fort and offers views of a lot of surrounding mountains as well as the temple and Konkankada.
This is a small temple-like structure on the east side of the temple. The water in the pond beside this structure is icy-cold, despite being out in the open.
Saptatirtha literally translates to "Seven Waters" in sanskrit. Pushkarni is any deep masonry well with steps going down to the water level. Such wells are especially found near temples of high civilized settlements. It is called a "vav" in Western India and a "baoli" in Northern India. Some were built by kings and were richly ornamented. They often were built by nobility, some being for secular use from which anyone could obtain water.
This Pushkarni is used for ritual cleansing and during rites of consecration (The act of having been made or declared sacred - consecrating water from seven rivers in this case). The water in the tank is deemed to be sacred and capable of healing many maladies.
These caves seem to have been carved in the 11th century. These caves are an abode to trekkers and have idols of Ganesha.
Things to Pack for Harishchandragad Trek
- 3 Liters of water (compulsory)
- Torch with extra batteries (Do not rely on your phone’s torch) - preferably buy a headlamp
- Sun hat or cap
- Blankets and sheets (if you plan to camp or if it’s a night trek)
- Warm clothes during winters (Temperature could drop below 10° Celsius)
- Sports shoes or trekking shoes (strictly no sandals or chappals)
- Comfortable t-shirt (preferably dry-fit and full sleeves)
- Comfortable trousers (no jeans or shorts)
- Extra pair of clothes and a hoodie (weather gets chilly before sunrise)
- Electrolyte powder (such as Electral, Enerzal, etc.)
- Light snacks to munch on during breaks
- Fresh fruits / Dried fruits such as dates, figs / Nuts mix, etc for eating along on the trail
- A small day pack to carry all the above (Kindly avoid handbag/sling bag)
- Personal medications, if any
- Optional items: sun goggles, wet tissues, hand sanitizer, cameras, etc.