Harihar Fort trek – It Is all about the rock-cut staircase?


What makes you travel to a particular destination? Sometimes it’s about a specific spot that you wish to see in person, or sometimes it’s about the overall experience.  All those fascinating pictures of the rock-cut staircase of the Harihar fort trek brought me to this interest in the Nasik district.

How difficult is it to climb these stairs? Is climbing these stairs scary? I wanted an answer……….

Also known as Harshagad Fort, Harihar fort lies in the Trimbakeshwar range, standing at approx. 3676 feet above sea level. The peculiar rock-cut steps bring thousands of visitors to this magnificent Harihar Fort every year. What amazes about it is how tough it would have been to construct such structures in that era when only essential equipment and tools were available.

How to reach Harihar Fort trek

It depends on the route you are trekking to ascend Harihar fort. Igatpuri is the central town if you plan to climb from the Nirgudpada side, and Nashik is the main town if you plan to ascend this fort from the Harshewadi side, Igatpuri and Nasik are well connected to other cities via roadways and railways.

To reach Nirgudpada from Igatpuri: From Igatpuri, board a bus for Trimbakeshwar and alight at Nirgudpada. Also, you can board a bus/shared TUM for Goti and take another transport for Nirgudpada.

To reach Harshewadi from Nashik, take a bus for Trimbakeshwar (buses start as early as 5:00 am). From Trimbakeshwar, Harshewadi is around 13 km, and no direct public transport is available. Transportation is available to Kachorli (a village en route), but the frequency is shallow. You can hire an auto from Trimbakeshwar, which charges INR 400 and drops you at the base village Harshewadi. In return, you will have to depend on hitchhiking or call the same auto driver.

The difficulty level of various Trekking routes for Harihar Fort Trek

1.       From Harshewadi: This is the easier route compared to Nirgudpada, and it takes around 1 to 1.5 hours to reach the stairs section from the base village. The well-marked trail allows no chance of getting lost. Also, Harihar is visible throughout the trek so you can move in that direction.

2.       From Nirgudpada: This is the longer route, and it takes around 2 hours to reach the stairs section from this route. Also, the trail is a little confusing, but if you are a regular trekker, there is no chance of getting lost.

Just a few meters before the stairs section, both routes combine, and just a single road goes ahead. Notches have been carved on either side of the steps to assist the climbers. Descending the steps is a little trickier compared to ascending.

Requirements of the Trek

This trek has few requirements in terms of fitness required, which makes it seem like an easy trek; however, it’s different when the rock-cut staircase comes into play; the staircase alone can raise the difficulty of this by a notch.

The trail combines jungle sections and open plateaus, leading to the stairs section. The views of the Vaitarna reservoir from the trek route are marvelous. Wow!! How would one have carved this out?”

Notches have been carved on either side of all the 117 steps where you can grip your fingers. Climbing the steps isn’t difficult due to these notches. After the stairs comes the cave section. The cave shows splendid views. But remember one small slip from here, and you are history.

A few more steps are needed to be climbed to reach a vast flat land, possibly the topmost point of the fort. As you move a little ahead, you will come across a small water body with a temple on one side. And guess what? You still have to climb a small hill to reach the topmost point of the Harihar fort. But don’t miss climbing the same after all; it provides a breathtaking 360-degree view of the nearby region.

It was hard not to be mesmerized by the overall beauty of the fort and the fantastic views it provides. So the fort is not just about the stairs; it has so much to amaze its visitors. A plan was made to set up a tent over there, gaze all night, and leave the following day. The descent from the fort lasted a total of 1.5 hours. Later hitchhiked a ride and were lucky to get a lift to Trimbakeshwar.

Best time to visit Harihar Fort Trek

The best time to visit the fort is the period just after the monsoon season (October to December), as the surroundings are still lush green. January to March isn’t a bad time either; you can set up a tent at the top, star gaze for the night, and enjoy the splendid sunrise from the top of the fort. The fort remains closed during the monsoon season, so avoid visiting the same.

Options for stay and food at Harihar fort Trek.

Nirgudpada has a few stay options; villagers provide homestay facilities. While Harshewadi isn’t that developed in terms of food and stay arrangements, you can pitch in a tent anywhere on the top of the fort but be mindful of the wind. Trimbakeshwar and Nasik are nearby and have many stay options so that you can cover the Harihar fort on a day’s trip from these towns.

Camping at Harihar Fort Trek near Nashik

There isn’t any food option available at Harshewadi. You can probably ask at home and see if they are ready to cook it for you. Bring a few eatables and at least two water bottles with you. You can get basic eating stuff and lemon water on some small dhabas you encounter on the trek.

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