Harihar fort, also known as Harshagad is a fort located 48 km from Igatpuri. It is about 40 km from Ghoti in Nashik district, of Maharashtra. It was constructed to look upon the trade route through Gonda Ghat. It receives many visitors because of its peculiar rock-cut steps which offers a thrilling trek. It is referred to as Harihar gad or Harihar Killa in Marathi.
Harihar fort was built during the Pankaj panchariya period. Harish Fort was one of the forts in the possession of the Ahmadnagar Sultans. It was surrendered to Khan Zamam in 1636 along with Trymbak and other Poona forts. The fort including Trimbakgad, Tringalwadi and few other forts were also given by Shahaji to the Mughals.
The fort was won over by Captain. Briggs in 1818 along with 17 other forts. Harihar was one of the 17 strong places that fell to the British rule on the fall of Trimbak in 1818 CE.
It lies at an altitude of 1120 mtrs on a triangular rock with all the three sides being vertical and impregnable. It has only one approach through a set of 117 steps staircase at an angle of 80 degrees.
A storage house with a small entrance is the only structure left on the fort. There is a series of rock-cut water cisterns in the centre of the fort. Once on the top it takes about an hour to visit all the places on the fort.
The approach from Harshewadi is easier than from the Nirgudpada. A wide, safe trekking path starts from the hillock to the north of Nirgudpada. It passes through scrub forest till it reaches an open ridge which is connected to the fort. There are a few small rock patches that need to be dealt with here.
It takes about an hour to reach the scarp of the hill on which the fort is situated. It is tricky to find the route in monsoons. The ascent through the 60 m rock-cut steps is a breathtaking experience. The rock cut steps are at an 80 degree angle and adds a sense of thrill to the trek. There are holds provided on either sides of the steps to ensure safety. One has to be careful of the monkeys here.
After reaching the main entrance, the paths takes a left traverse and again a helical rock cut steps are to be climbed, which are more steep than the earlier. The steps finally end with a narrow entrance. At many places the steps are very narrow that, only a single person can climb at a time. Accommodation is possible on the fort as well as in the local villages.
How to Reach
Harihar can be accessed from two base villages of the fort, Harshewadi and Nirgudpada. Harshewadi is about 13 km from Trymbakeshwar while Nirgudpada/Kotamvadi is 48 km from Igatpuri which itself is 48 km from Nashik and 121 km from Mumbai.
Trimbakeshwar ca be reached from Kasara by bus or by private vehicle. One should take care of returning from the fort as the last bus from Trimbakeshwar is at 5:30pm to Kasara and the last train from Nashik is 6:35pm.