Mrugagad Fort Trek
Mrugagad fort trek is a small fort and it is located in the Raigad District of the Maharashtra in India. It is known for it’s unique shape and it lies in the Sahyadri ranges. The base village is known as Bheliv and the fort is also referred to as the Bheliv fort trek.
Many ancient trade routes used to pass through the ghats in the Konkan area. Many forts were built along these ghats to protect these trade routes. Mrugagad fort was built on the Konkan side and Tung and Morgiri forts were built in the valley of Pawna river to protect the Sav Ghat route. After the construction of the Bhor Ghat route during the British era this route was not used any more and the importance of the Mrugagad fort came down.
Not much is known about the history of the Mrugagad fort trek. Judging by the structure of the rock formation, it must have been previously used as watchtower. Although the Umberkhind battle of Shivaji Maharaj with Kartalab Khan is famous in the vicinity of this fort, Mrugagad fort is not mentioned in this battle
Mrugagad stands tall at the height of 1750 feet from the ground level. The distance form Mumbai to Mrugagad fort via Bengaluru is 91.4 Km.
On the way to the fort, there is a small square mouth measuring 3 x 3 feet. The dimension of the cave is about 30 feet inside and there are two turns inside the cave. The inner end of the cave is much larger measuring 10×12 feet.
There is a small plateau halfway through the trek. There are remains of an outpost on this plateau. On the left side of the plateau, carved steps lead you to the top of the fort, and the small steps carved on the right side of the rock lead you to the cave tank dug in the rock. The tanks are dry and the outside of the cave is lined with circular limestone walls. The approach to this cave is quite dangerous and exposed and should be avoided during the monsoons.
An idol of lord Ganesha can be seen carved in the rock, on the right side of the steps. From here you can see signs that there is an east facing gate of the fort and you can see the fortified ramparts of the fort. Upon entering the fort, one can see the Mahishasurmardini idol and the broken Shivling as well as a large stone lamp.
There are three dry water tanks on the left side of the peak. One of these tanks is divided into two parts by a stone wall and the other is carved with steps to descend into the tank. There are a few bushes on the peak along with some unrecognised architectural remains.
On the last peak to the west of the fort, there are two large dry rectangular tanks on this peak. The peak also has a large number of holes made to separate the slits from the rock. There is a flagpole in this area. Kurwand Ghat, Umberkhind and Sarasgad fort can be easily seen from here. The much higher hill that can be seen from the Mrugagad fort top is called Moradi cha Sulka or the Moradi pinnacle. Moradi pinnacle is the same cone shaped pinnacle that can be seen from the Lion’s point or the Tiger point.
The Mrugagad fort trek starts from the Bheliv village. A trail leads to the fort from the upper side of this temple in front of the village school. The trail goes through a dense forest, so you don’t feel tired to climb the fort.
The last two cones below the fort have a passage leading to the fort through the eastern gully between them. It takes about 45 minutes to reach this place from the village. The first cave is on the hill towards the right over here. Climbing the gully brings you to a small plateau with a hill towards the left. Simple rock climbing is required to ascend.
The hill has carved stairs that takes you to the top of the fort. Towards the right of this hill are a small set of stairs that takes you to a water tank. This steps are exposed and risky and should be avoided during the monsoons. It takes about an hour to reach the top of the fort and about an hour to explore.
How to Reach
The distance between khopali and bheliv is 30km. Start your journey from Khopoli Station. Sharing Rikshaw for Lonavala phata will be available. One can hire share-six seater to Parali village on Palikhopali Road. Six- seaters are available from Parali till its base village known as Bhelvi. Around 1 hour it takes you to reach there to the top of the fort.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The base village of the Mrugagad fort trek is the Bheliv village near Khopoli. The fort itself is sometimes referred to as the Bheliv fort.
The highest point on the Mrugagad fort is 533 metres or 1750 feet.
The trek from the village and back can be completed in about 3 hours. It takes one hour to reach the top of the fort from Bheliv village and one hour to explore the fort.
The trek can be classified as a moderate to easy level trek. There is a small rock patch that can be navigated without much difficulty.