Jivdhan Fort Trek
Jivdhan fort trek in Junnar, Pune is considered to be a difficult trek by most trekkers. The fort stands tall at 3754 feet ASL. Located very close to Naneghat, It faces Ghatghar and was built to protect the ancient trade route of Naneghat. Giant squirrels can be spotted on this trek.
Satvahan was the first dynasty in Maharashtra. Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satkarni destroyed the Sakas and established his dominance over the Junnar area. These dynasties built many trade passes and forts over the shoulders of the mountains in Sahyadris. Around 250 BC, the Satvahana kings built the Naneghat connecting Konkan and the rest of the area by breaking through the hills near Junnar.
All entry point on the forts built by Shivaji Maharaj have a ‘Kalas’ and Lord Ganesh carved on it. Fort Jivdhan is in very close proximity of Naneghat. It was used to overlook the trade pass. Naneghat had a toll collection booth where toll was collected from commercial traders. It was considered to be an important pass as it was a gateway joining the mainlands and the seas. It was heavily guarded at all times.
The last emperor of Adilshahi of Ahmednagar was Murtija Nizam. He was imprisoned by the Mughals at Jivdhan fort. In 1635 the father of Shahaji Maharaj, the father of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj released him from the prison and gave him the throne of Ahmednagar.
Jivdhan to Naneghat has an open plateau of about two to three kilometres, which gives any clear indication of enemy approach. Jivdhan fort was captured by the British in 1818, the steps were demolished and the west gate was blocked. You can still see traces of landmines as you climb the stairs even today. Thefort was captured by Col. Prother of the East India company and later destroyed.
There are two main gates to reach the fort. The road leading to Naneghata is known as Kalyan Darwaza, while the road passing through Ghatghar village is known as Junnar Darwaza.
Jivdhan was captured by the British in 1818. They demolished the steps leading to the fort and the west gate was blocked. Even today, you can see traces of landmines as you climb the stairs. After climbing these rock cut steps, we come to a halt at a steep edge. The rock cut steps are broken here and one has to climb with the grooves on the rock. Jivdhan fort has a similar entrances to the ones we see at Chavand and Hadsar, indicating that maybe they were built during the same period.
The gate is at a right angles to the fortified steps and a bastion is built on the left side to protect the gate. You can’t see the gate of the fort, even if you climb the stairs. After entering the door, you can see a half-buried cave on the right.
The highest point on the Jivadhan fort trek is 3754 feet above sea level and it is spread over an area of 65 acres. Ruins of the fort are visible around the gate. A path to the left takes you to the ramparts while a trail on the left takes you to the hill in the middle of the fort.
There is a square water cistern on the way to the hill. There are a group of five tanks at some distance from here. Two of these tanks are adjoined while the other three are small in size.
There is a fallen temple of Jivaidevi to the south. There are two tombs behind the temple. Jivdhan fort trek gets its name from the Goddess. There’s a small lake as well here. There are five granaries inside the fort. The ashes from the last Anglo-Maratha war in 1818 are still found in these rooms today.
There is a famous pinnacle one end of the fort called Vaanarlingi. It is frequented by Rock Climbers. The shape of the fort is rectangular. It provides beautiful panoramic views of Konkan from the edge of Vaanarlingi. From the top of Jivdhan fort trek, one can see Nanacha Aanghta, Harishchandragad, Ratangad, Naneghat,Hadsar fort,Nimgiri fort, Hadsar, Chavand, Kukdeshwar’s temple, small dam of Dhasai and the roads in Malshej Ghat.
There are two entrances to the fort. The road leading to Naneghat is known as Kalyan Darwaza, while the road passing through Ghatghar village is known as Junnar Darwaza. It takes a bit of rock climbing to get to both of these entrances. It is for this reason that the Jivdhan fort trek is considered to be a difficult trek.
The trail to Naneghat plateau to Vaanarlingi, a diverison to the left takes you to a forest. Taking this trail will reach you to the hill of the fort. There are rock cut steps on the way to the fortification of the fort.
Once we reach the fortified wall a path on the right side of the wall leads to the pinnacle, while the path on the left leads to the steps of the fort. If choosing to explore the Vaanarlingi pinnacle, there is a small gap between the pinnacle and the wall of the fort. It can be crossed at the foot of the pinnacle. Near the base of the pinnacle, there is a seven feet long cave dug. Another cave measuring 10×8 feet has been dug at the inner end of this cave.
Coming back to the steps, they are 10 feet long and 1.5 feet high, they are worn out and have collapsed in some places. This part is particularly risky and can be attempted with the help of locals. Once you reach the gate, one has to make their way through a small gap as the entrance is in ruins.
Another approach exists from the from Ghatghar village, one way goes to Naneghat and the other goes to the fort. It is easier as compared to the other route till one reaches the steps which are not in a good condition and become slippery during the monsoons. From here we can reach the fort in 2 hours.
How to reach
If attempting the Jivhdan fort trek from Pune, reach Ghatghar which is 25 km from Pune-Junnar. Naneghat is at a distance of 5 km from Ghatghar. If you have your own vehicle, you can reach the base of fort through this way.
If coming by public transport, get down at Kalyan Railway station which can be be easily reach from Mumbai, Thane and Pune. Catch any State Transport (ST bus) from Kalyan bus depot going towards Malshej Ghat. Get down at Tokawade Village. From Tokawde village catch a share rickshaw or Jeep to reach Naneghat starting point.