Irshalgad, an iconic boat-shaped hill, stands tall beside the Matheran hill station and is easily noticeable. It is connected to the most popular Prabalgad fort by a ridge, and it is known as its sister fort. Irshalgad trek is known to offer a paradise for eyes and test one’s endurance. Besides, the area of Irshalgad is relatively small. But it contains several rock patches and water cisterns that enhance its natural beauty. The climb to this unique peak can be divided into three phases: the base of the pinnacle, the needle eye, and a final push to the peak.
So if you are planning for the Irshalgad trek, then we assure you that it is worth exploring as it helps you experience the magic of both easy and difficult trails. But we would recommend you to go only up to the second level, i.e., ‘the needle eye’ (and that too with the utmost care and attention) because the final patch is dangerous. It has been the cause for some unfortunate casualties.
The most beautiful part about the Irshalgad trek is its needle eye (known as ‘Nedhe’ in Marathi). So make sure you don’t miss it if you are an experienced trekker. Here we will share everything about the Irshalgad trek so that you can do it on your own.
Things You Need to Know About Irshalgad Trek:
Whenever you want to go for a trek to Irshalgad, make sure you understand its route, the difficult patches, and essential locations so that you don’t get out of the track.
How to Reach Irshalgad?
The best way to reach the Irshalgad base point, i.e., Nanivali village, is by private vehicle (preferably 2-wheeler). But you have various other options. The second option is to board a train till Karjat on the central railway line, and then hire a shared auto to reach the base village. You can also opt for state transport buses.
If you want to go by road, then the route will be as follows:
From Mumbai to Irshalgad – Mumbai -> Kalyan -> Asangaon -> Karjat -> Chowk Railway Station -> Nanivali Village -> Irshalgad
From Pune to Irshalgad – Chakan -> Manchar -> Narayangaon -> Karjat -> Chowk Railway Station -> Nanivali Village -> Irshalgad
From Pune to Irshalgad – Pune -> Lonavala -> Khopoli -> Khalapur -> Chowk Railway Station -> Nanivali Village -> Irshalgad
Irshalgad Fort Trek Difficulty Level:
The difficulty level of the Irshalgad trek is easy to moderate. So people with prior trekking experience can complete this trek easily. The problem arises only for the last patch as the rock structure is steep with no support.
We recommend that if you don’t have any trekking equipment or experience in trekking, then go only up to the needle eye. But we would also suggest that if you are acrophobic, enjoy the trek only until the first pinnacle’s because climb at the needle eye is too risky.
Duration for Irshalgad Trek:
You can complete the Irshalgad trek in 4-5 hours as the ascent takes 2.5 – 3 hours while the descent takes 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on the halts.
Additional Details of Irshalgad:
Location – It lies between Matheran and Panvel.
Irshalgad Fort Height – 3700 feet above sea level.
Best time for Irshalgad trekking:
The best time for Irshalgad trekking is June to January, as monsoons and winters keep the climate pleasant. You can also trek during summers, but the hot and humid climate can make your trekking difficult and affect your endurance.
So prefer the summer season only when you have high endurance. If you are experienced in trekking, you can consider the monsoon season as it offers picturesque views of foggy mountains. The winter season is suitable for both naive and experienced trekkers as the climate is clear and not too hot.
The history behind Irshalgad:
The importance of Irshalgad lies in its name where ‘Irshal’ means the top and ‘gad’ means the fort. Irshalgad was used as a watchtower in ancient times due to its pinnacle. It helped the people to keep an eye on the movement of enemies around the fort. The top of this fort gives a broad view and access to areas of Matheran range, Prabalgad, Chanderi Fort, Malanggad, Karnala Fort, and Manikgad.
Irshalgad Trekking: Our Experience and Guidance
We left our home early in the morning and reached the Chowk Railway station around 8.45 am. After crossing the railway station, we were delighted to see the exceptional views of the Morbe dam and the surrounding Matheran range. We captured some videos and continued our ride to reach the base village Nanivali. After parking our vehicle and taking a small break, we dusted off our shoes to start the trek and experience the unexplored trails.
The initial phase of Irshalgad Trek:
During the first phase of our trek to Irshalgad, we came across a small ridge that displayed the board of Irshalgad. Further, the trail continued through an easily walkable path and ended at a small mountain. We ascended this mountain filled with dried grass and zigzag paths. To be honest, each and every step ahead offered a spectacular view of Morbe dam, Nanivali village, and the surrounding mountains. We are sure that this view would be irresistible in monsoons. After climbing the first mountain, we took a small pause and indulged in the view for a while.
After some time, we again started with our trek and walked over the mountain for around 20-30 minutes on a well-made raw trail. This trail continued further and reached the base of Irshalgad, i.e., at Irshalwadi village. We were quite surprised to see the life of locals living in this village as they have to visit the town downhill every day to buy the essentials. Besides, they are quite energetic, which we feel is the magic of living right in nature’s bed.
Beginning the actual trek from Irshalwadi village:
The local’s welcoming faces and hand-made houses made us feel homely in such a rural place. We followed the well-marked trail and came and then came across several houses at the base of Irshalgad. We took a left turn from this village that leads to a small temple of the local deity. From here, the path towards Irshalgad’s first pinnacle is easily accessible and covered with dense trees.
We encountered several trekkers descending the Irshalgad and a few locals while traversing through the dense trees. Small insects, butterflies, and ants were beautifully wandering through these trees, which added a bit of a natural experience to our Irshalgad trek. After some ascent, we reached the top of Irshalgad and completed our first phase at the pinnacle base.
Starting with the second phase of the Irshalgad trek:
After spending some valuable time at the base of the first pinnacle and capturing pictures, we started to explore the rest of the Irshalgad. We began from the left side and came across several rock structures that have felt off from the top. This fort is rocky, and the rock structures are not that intact, which causes slides during heavy rains. Some of the stones are so big that they have created a cave-like structure on the trail.
While walking on this trail, i.e., the left side of Irshalgad’s pinnacle, we experienced many breezy waves of winds and a panoramic view of the surrounding mountain range. At one landmark, we had to stop walking and start climbing the steep rock patches without any support.
Climbing up to the needle eye of Irshalgad (Nedhe):
At this moment, we literally felt like Bear Grylls of Man Vs. Wild as we were climbing the 90-degree steep rock patches. This patch needs a lot of attention and care as a little here and there would put our life at risk. The best part we liked about this patch was that there was an uncle who helped the trekkers to challenge this difficult part. He handled us well and pushed us through the broken ladder. So even though the climb increased our heartbeat, the uncle served as an angel and helped us tackle the difficult ascent.
Embracing the wind at the needle eye:
When we challenged our fears and finally made it through the most difficult patch of Irshalgad, we felt relieved and happy to embrace the soothing winds coming through the needle eye. This needle eye is called as ‘Nedhe’ in Marathi, which is the soil erosion caused due to the rushing winds at the pinnacle. The Nedhe is present at several other forts in Maharashtra and serves to be a point of attraction at the fort.
We spent our valuable time at this Nedhe, had some snacks and fruits, and witnessed the beauty of the fort. The view from this point just made us speechless as it presented the hazy clouds, small villages, and a stunning look of Morbe dam.
Completing the final patch of Irshalgad trek:
After spending some time at Nedhe, we tried our hands at completing the final patch that took us on the top of Nedhe. Although the climb was challenging, we tried our best to achieve the final phase and felt overwhelmed to complete it. When we went up towards the top pinnacle, the rushing winds thrilled us, while the top gave an exceptional panoramic view. From this point, there is one more patch that is at the top of the Irshalgad pinnacle, but it needs equipment and expert guidance to complete the trek. So we finished our trek till its base and started descending after clicking some pictures.
Tips to remember while planning Irshalgad trek:
- Carry at least 1-2 liters of water per person as the trek is long.
- Wear trekking shoes with excellent grip as the descent contains slippery muddy patches.
- Take food to eat as there are no stalls in the way. One stall is present at the first pinnacle’s base, but no one was present in the stall during our trek. If you want to have lunch after completing the trek, you can give orders to the local villagers of Irshalwadi and enjoy an authentic lunch.
So that’s all with the details, experience, and guidance on Irshalgad’s trekking. Do let us know if you need any more information or share your experience with us in the comments below.