In July 2019, I decided to visit my best friend who had moved from Delhi to Pune to pursue his career in the Big Corporate. I had excitedly created a detailed plan of the places to visit near Pune I wanted to see including camping in Pawna Lake, trekking to Lohagad Fort and Kune Falls. I wanted to see the top weekend getaways from Pune, mostly because I hadn’t ever explored the Western Ghats all that well in my life and I wanted to see what the best Pune tourist places were.
I had also specifically chosen July to experience the magic of monsoons here. Having heard such mesmerising tales of the beauty of rainfall in the Western Ghats, I found myself inadvertently wanting to try out all the popular places for Western Ghats Maharashtra, especially when the rains made everything much brighter and greener! But I forgot to account for my friend’s long, weekday working hours and ultimately found myself going around the city and working in his apartment instead of exploring the Western Ghats as I had planned. But ultimately weekend came, and a spontaneous plan was formed at midnight to visit Sinhagad Fort, the best sunrise point in Pune.
We started from Pune at around 2 am. Driving through the streets at the dead of the night, made me appreciate this city all the more. Our little Western Ghats road trip from Pune ended in just 2 hours when we found ourselves in the Sinhagad Fort parking. There was only one stall up and running in the wee hours of the morning. The sun hadn’t risen yet and the sky was still a deep shade of blue. But the morning was upon us, alright – the incessant bird songs around us affirmed that.
The early monsoon morning had an unexpected nip in the air so we huddled inside the small tea shop until the first light appeared. As we climbed the first flight of the stairs leading to the fort’s entrance, my eyes chanced over my right shoulder, welcoming me to the majestic foggy valley below. “Welcome to monsoons in Western Ghats”, the mist seemed to whisper in my ears.
Barring the few vendors setting up shop, we seemed to be one of the very first visitors that Sunday morning. We didn’t pay much heed to which path we took, we just seemed to enter and endless misty maze at Sinhagad Fort Pune.
The forest cover around the fort was enveloped in mist as if buried deep under a cosy blanket on a frosty winter morning. And to think it was still July, ha!
The mist was so dense in some places, that it often became difficult to tell where the land ended. The fencing around the edges of the hill served as a great help in not falling off the cliff!
As we walked further, a few age-old stone structures appeared. One of them seemed to be a shrine of sorts, and another a stable for mules.
Soon enough, we had left behind the inhabited parts of the Sinhagad Fort and arrived near a powerhouse of sorts where people seemed to seldom visit.
It was here in the fringes of the fort complex that we were able to notice and appreciate the biodiversity in Western Ghats. From molluscs to reptiles and birds, we were definitely in the company of some rich fauna!
Soon, it was time for us to head back but we came to a halt the moment we saw the shops were now up and running and the smell of milky chai and pakode wafted in the air. The food at Sinhagad Fort is simple but soulful and perfect for the Western Ghats monsoons.
By this time, I understood that waking up in the middle of the night to catch the sunrise at Sinhagad Fort was worth every effort. The swarms of people that had now overtaken the fort premises was assaulting to the senses. The chitter-chatter from human mouths soon replaced the whispering of the fogs and the singing of the birds and the dull grey and bright green setting now had many bright coloured raincoats.
With this shock to the senses, came the realization that it was time for us to leave. And leave we did, but not before standing at the edge of the hill and overlooking the never-ending valleys one last time.
Good to know before you go
The Sinhagad Fort trek is simple. It is one of the easiest trails for trekking in Western Ghats Maharashtra.
The best time to visit Sinhagad Fort is year-round. Try catching the sunrise at Sinhagad Fort and reach by 5 am to avoid crowds.
Sinhagad trekking route is one of the most popular Western Ghats trails. So you’ll find facilities like toilets and food stalls easily.
There are many other treks and trails in Pune apart from Sinhagad Fort trekking. These include Raigad Fort, Lohagad Fort etc.
Pune to Sinhagad Fort bus is available throughout the day, but to reach early, one must use private transportation.
The Sinhagad Fort road condition today is quite good, with small rough patches in between.
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A twenty-something solo adventurer, Avantika finds comfort in learning about various cultures, its people and listening to age-old folk tales. When not on the road, she can be found cuddled up with her dog in her room, with a book in her hand.