While driving from Pune to Mumbai, near Panvel, if you look to the right you can see a pinnacle, a vertical, pointed piece of rock. This is Irshalgad which translates to Pinnacle Fort (‘Irshal’ means Pinnacle and ‘Gad’ means fort.). Irshalgad fort is accessed through a beautiful trek known as the Irshalgad Trek.
Would I be able to do the Irshalgad Trek?
Irshalgad trek is perfect for beginners. The trek is steep but is manageable even for beginners. We use this trek to introduce kids to the outdoors. However, in the rains, the terrain can get slippery and we would not recommend an attempt at going on the pinnacle.
How do I get there?
Located around 90km from Pune and 60km from Mumbai, Irshalgad Fort is accessible through the Expressway. You make your way to Mumbai (Starting from Pune) and turn off before the Khopoli Toll plaza. After which you follow the road turning under the expressway and make your way to the base village of the trek: Nanhivali base village. This quaint village is located on the banks of the reservoir of the Morbe Dam. It is pretty easy to find on Google Maps. If you wish you can take a train to Karjat and head to the base from here.
The trek to Irshalgad fort begins with a climb. A 20-minute climb with a couple of steep sections gets you to the first rest stop. From here you get a good glimpse of the reservoir and the surrounding areas. There is also a small shack where you can buy some snacks. After reaching this point the trail is flatter and continues for about 10 more minutes before flattening pretty much completely. This trail leads to the village on the hill: Irshalwadi. The trail from here continues through the forest and follows a muddy route. After about 10 minutes the trails bends towards the right and regains its gradient. As you approach the top the trail is pretty steep and slippery if you are trekking in the monsoons.
This leads to the base of the pinnacle and from here you can truly appreciate the scale of this behemoth. A truly majestic rock structure.
To make your way to the top, you first have to head towards the right of the pinnacle. Then follow the route as it makes its way through some rockfall and up a small ladder. Here you can find a small temple, this is the top of the Irshalgad Trek. From the summit, you get a clear view of other majestic forts like Prabalgad, Matheran and Manikgad. The trek back follows the same route.
In total it took us 2 hours to get to the top and 1 hour to get back down. During the rain, the trail can get slippery and we would recommend wearing shoes with a good grip. Also, we would not recommend going to the top of the pinnacle if you are not feeling confident and in the rain as the rocks are very slippery.
Best Time to Visit Irshalgad Fort
Like most of the treks around Pune, the best time to go for the Irshalgad trek is in the Monsoons and Post-Monsoon. The weather is not too hot and you get to see the amazing greenery of the land. During the monsoon, the land is green and the reservoir is full; a sight you must see. When we had gone the pinnacle was covered in clouds for the first half of the trek and opened up only later during the day, a sight to revel at.