Kothaligad, a relatively lesser known fort is located around 28kms from Karjat. Due to its proximity to the village of Peth, it is also known as the Peth Fort. The small fort resembling a chimney was used as a watch tower by the Marathas and the British. Being located at a height of 3100 ft, the fort served as a vantage point to watch over the surrounding hills and plains below.
It is an hours drive from Karjat upto the base village near the fort. From Karjat, take the Murbad Road and a few kilometers ahead turn right at the fork at Kadav. A little ahead of Vanjarwadi Phata, turn right towards Khanand village. Drive a further 7.5 kms (15 mins.) to reach the base of Kothaligad. Vehicles are parked here and visitors walk/trek upto the fort.
It is also a popular 1 day trek with the trekking enthusiasts specially during monsoon. From Karjat or Neral, trekkers have to first reach either the Ambivili village or Jamrukh village by road. The trek starts from here. A 4 km (2 hour) easy trek through vibrant scenery and paddy fields brings you to a plateau. Horses and cattle grazing around is a common sight. The view from here is stupendous with numerous waterfalls adorning the mountain sides.
A further 15 minute walk brings you to Peth. The area is abundant in unfiltered natural beauty. The lush green fields against the backdrop of the blue sahyadris is indeed a sight that will remain with you long after you have returned. The actual ascend to Kothaligad starts from Peth. Hereon it is a steep 1.5 km (1 hour) climb to Kothaligad Fort. Walking through dense forests and foliage specially during monsoon is a thrilling experience. As with other forts in Maharashtra, there are multiple trekking routes to reach upto Kothaligad. The steeper route is shorter and faster but more challenging. The other trail runs parallel to a water-pipe.
The Fort has a cave and a small temple of Lord Bhairoba dating back to the 13th century at its base. The large cave has small rooms inside. These serve as a makeshift accomodation for trekkers taking a night halt. Local villages sell tea here during monsoons.
To reach the top of the fort. one has to climb 87 steep winding steps through the tunnel or chimney like structure. This stairway is weathered but functional even today and a high point for trekkers. Though it could get a little tricky and a bit of a squeeze if you run into people making their way down the steps. This soon turns out to be the stairway to heaven. The pinnacle of the fort offers stunning views of the Sahyadri ranges, deep green valleys and gorgeous plains. The clouds floating around gives you a feel of ‘walking on clouds’. The cannon and water tank at the fort is a reminder of the bygone Maratha and British era’s. On reaching the top, it takes around an hour to see the Fort and enjoy the magnificent views it offers.
Villagers at Peth serve lunch and trekkers can take a pit-stop here before making their way back to their vehicles.