Kalsubai, the Highest mountain in Maharashtra and the western ghats around 1646 meters above sea level 5500 feet(Everest of Maharashtra).Just heard it and read about it from books and blogs.
So this coming Diwali holidays,I decided to trek it and here I am presenting this blog after visiting this place.
Location of this mountain
The base village is situated in Akole taluka Ahmednagar and bordering Igatpuri Taluka of Nasik(around 300 meters ahead from the base village,Igatpuri taluka starts), around 15 kms from Bhandardara/Randha falls and 27 kms from Igatpuri/Ghoti.
The base village for this mountain is 'Bari' which is situated on Igatpuri-Sangamner road.Bari in local language means village on the edge of ghat in sayadris(hence Bari/Ghatghar/Kokanwadi have same meaning in Sahyadris)
How to reach Bari village:
1) Via Pune: Reach Sangamner,There are frequent buses to Rajur and Akole(12 kms from Sangamner) and from Rajur/Akole ,you can get buses going to Kasara/Igatpuri/Ghoti which takes you till the base village.If you reach Sangamner around 3:00 am in Morning,then you can also get one bus to Ghoti/Igatpuri which takes you to Bari around 5:00 am.
Another option is From Shivajinagar bus stand,one bus leaves to Igatpuri around 1:30 pm afternoon and it reaches Bari village around 8:00 pm night.One can stay in this village and next day early morning can start to climb the mountain and try to reach Akole before 3:00 pm to get a bus to Pune.
Slightly longer route:Reach Nasik and get a bus to Igatpuri and get down at Ghoti(35 kms from Nasik) on Highway.From here there are ST buses and jeeps available to go to Bari(22 kms from Ghoti).Nasik to Kalsubai is approx 55 kms distance.
2) Via Mumbai/Kalyan
Reach Kasara/Ghoti on Mumbai Agra highway and from here many morning buses are available to go to Akole/Rajur/Sangamner.The first bus available from Ghoti is around 5:00 am in morning.
About the climb to this mountain
Kalsubai is around 1646 meters and Village Bari is around 750 meters from sea level hence Kalsubai is approx 900 meters climb from base village(almost 1.5 times the Torna fort near Pune).
From Bari village,One has to go towards Right and after a short walk beyond the paddy fields in village, the climb starts.The climb is gentle till one small temple but from here the climb starts getting steeper and tougher and the road starts getting covered by dense forests. After climbing half the mountain you will encounter first ladder.Also regular steps are available from here.From here,there are again the steep climb continues till the second ladder.This second ladder is very big(around 200 feets) and straight fixed in rock facing towards deep valley(climbing this ladder is like a rock climbing experience).One should be very careful at this second ladder while climbing as well as descending.
After climbing this second ladder,one reaches a flat area and still the Kalsubai's highest peak is around 200 meters climb more from this area.There is a small well available here.From this well,again take right and start climbing steps which will take you till the final third ladder.This ladder is also around 100-200 feets.After climbing this ladder,you are on the highest point in Sahyadris.
The top peak is very narrow and very less area on it and there is always strong wing blowing here.There is a small temple of Devi Kalsubai who according to the local legend used to stay here on this mountain.During Navaratri period,there are many devotees staying in nearby villages visiting this place.
The view from the top is breathtaking.
It took around 2.5 to 3 hours for me to reach the top.
Bhandardara is the place where there very high mountains surrounded(This is the reason why I am mentioning below few names of mountains with their heights given in brackets)
Thats why this area is called as Trekkers paradise because average height of mountains in this area is around 1400 meters.
To your west,you can see the Kulang(1470 meters),Madan, Alang(Average height 1400 meters) and Mhordhan(1100 meters) forts in Main Sahyadris while to your south,you can see Ratangad(1300 meters),Katrabai(1400 meters),Ajoba(1375 meters),Muda-Wakri(avg 1500 meters) and Ghanchakkar(1562 meters and third highest in Sahyadris) mountains and Harishchandragad(1429 meters) to your far south.To your south,you can also see huge backwaters of Bhandardara dam built on Pravara river.
To your north,you can view Avandh-Patta fort,Far Northwest you can see Kavnai/Dakson fort(Near Igatpuri) and mountains nearby Trimbakeshwar,Igatpuri till Deolali region in Nasik.also if weather is clear,you can have a glimpse of deep blue crystal clear backwaters of Darna dam.
Thus during the time of Shivaji Maharaj and Peshwas,this mountain served as a important point in Sahyadris to keep watch over Nasik region
Other places to see:
Since Bhandardara is trekkers paradise,there are lots of combination available from here
1) Descend Kalsubai come back to Bari and proceed to Ambewadi on Ghoti road to go for Alang-Kulang fort.One has option to visit Avandh-Patta fort near Deolali-Bhagur Nasik
2) Descend Kalsubai towards Uddhavane(difficult path) which is towards Bhandardara dam and reach Samrad.From Samrad Kokan Kada,you have options to descend via Karoli Ghat into Konkan and Reach Dehne the base village for Ajoba parvat and descend back to Dolkhamb and proceed to Asangaon Railway station.
From Samrad,you can also take a route going to Harishchandragad which goes via Ratangad and Ghanchakkar Muda-Wakri till base village of Harishchandragad 'Pachnai'. This total trek takes around 3-4 days and is a walk around 50 kms in forests.
Also one has a option just to descend Kalsubai and reach Uddhavne and have a walk across the shores of dam and reach Bhandardara village.
Hence there are multiple trek combinations available but due to time constraint I decided to do just reach the top of this mountain,descend and reach Pune on same day.
I started early in morning around 4:00 am got a bus to Nasik at 4:30 am,reached Sangamner around 8:15 am took a bus to Akole 12 kms from Sangamner.From here I got a bus to Kasara so I reached Bari village at before 10:00 am.
I got a local guide who was guiding me to reach the top.I reached around 12:30 pm on the top.The guide also helped me by carrying my bag on his shoulders for few time(after climbing 80% mountain) so that we can reach the summit little faster.
After reaching the summit,I took few snaps and had few diwali sweets and proceeded back on the same route to reach base village,had some tea at guide's home around 3:00 pm.I got a jeep till Ghoti and returned Pune via Nasik and thus I arrived Pune around 10:00 pm
Some other interesting places near Bhandardara
Randha falls: This place is on Sangamner-Ghoti road 6 kms before Bhandardara Dam.This waterfall is about 170 feet on pravara river and falls into a ravine on which electricity is generated.This waterfall is at its best around month of august-sept.This waterfall is third largest waterfall in India.
Agasti Rishi Ashram: There is a Ashram of Agasti Rishi between Akole and Rajur village on banks of Pravara river and this is also a good place to visit.It is said that during Ramayana,Agasti rishi gave one arrow to Ram at this ashram which he later used it to kill Ravan.
Pemgiri Banyan Tree:This is one of the oldest Banyan tree in the world and largest banyan tree in Asia situated at village Pemgiri between Akole and Rajur.This single tree spans around 4 acres.This is also worth to watch.
Here are few photos which I took out
Kalsubai mountain seen from Base village Bari
View of Bari village after climbing second ladder(Photo taken from Mobile phone)
The top most peak of Kalsubai(The highest point in Sahyadris)
Scene from top of the peak
Kalsubai Devi temple on top
View of Alang Madan and Kulang forts from top of Kalsubai
View of Bhandardara dam from Top of Kalsubai
Breath taking view of Sahyadris ,Alang and kulang forts from top of Kalsubai
View of Bhandardara dam,Ratangad and Ghanchakkar mountain to the far south
Side view of Kalsubai while proceeding to Ghoti and a view of Sahyadri ranges in background
View of Mahankal,Avandh and Patta forts to the far north seen from Bari village
Crystal clear and deep blue backwaters of Darna Dam while proceeding towards Ghoti(Again this photo taken from Mobile)