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Palghar is one of the beautiful region that connected the Maharashtra and Gujarat region and is nestled between the sea to the west and the mountains to the east.
Palghar having the maximum number of forts as compared with other regions in the district. Some of these are sea forts located along the coast such as Kelwa fort, Kelve-Janjira fort, Mahim Fort, Shirgaon Fort and Tarpur Fort.
While other forts are on the top of the hills that lie to the east of Palghar – such as Kohoj, Gambhirgad, Tandulwadi, Kaldurg, Asava, Asherigad and Adasule.
In comparison of all the small forts scattered around Palghar region, Asherigad can be termed as the “Elder Brother” among all the forts due to massiveness of its size and its richness in fortification. As it covers a huge area, the fort looks impressively strong.
Asherigad also known as ‘Tower of Palghar’ located on Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway and about 31 km from Palghar city. This 1628 feet above sea level fort offers a great view of surrounding mountains and there is so much to explore in the fort that makes it one of best travel destination near mumbai. Apart from that, the trail that leads from the base village is a very scenic trail combined with rocky patching and lush green forest cover with different species of birds and insects showing the diversity of the region and uniqueness of Asherigad.
800 years old Ancient Asherigad first built by Bhojraja of Shilahara dynasty who also ruled Kokan region and it was captured by Bimb Raja of Mahim region of Palghar from Kolis and then it was ruled by Gujarat Sultanate.
Antonio Moniz Barreto, the Portuguese captain of Bassein won the Asherigad in 1556, after bribing the Abyssinian captain who commanded the fort. Portuguese made it as the capital of 38 villages and 6 parishes. In the Portuguese era, there were three different kingdoms that bordered Asherigad
1)To the north-east was the kingdom of Chandahar which was presumably part of the Mughals
2)To the south-east was the empire of the king of Ahmednagar
3)In the forests nearby to the east were the Kolis ruled over by King Bhimdev
This made Asherigad very strategic for the Portuguese occupation.
In 1737, Marathas captured Asherigad in the leadership of Chimaji Appa (Younger brother of Peshwa Bajirao Ballal), but it was recaptured in the counter-offensive by Antonio Cardim de Frois, the new General of the North. But Marathas again conquered the Asherigad in February 1739.
In 1818 Captain Dickinson captured this fort and thus it went into the hands of the British.
During the time this fort was used, there were over 700 people staying here, with facilities such as houses, a school, a prayer hall, and ample water supply were provided
BASE VILLAGE & REGION
The base village Khodkona is a very small tribal yet a well-planned, clean and friendly village just 1 km from the Mumbai-Ahmadabad highway. The Fort restoration is done by the local villagers. They are very helpful even ready to guide you to find trail route to Asherigad.
Half way uphill, a small clearing beside the track has the wooden deity of Waghoba. Waghoba is worshipped so as to ensure that tigers cause no harm to the people and farm animals
Waghoba is recognized as a forest god by villagers and there is a special function in the month of Chaitra (March-April) when hens and goats are sacrificed to this tiger deity.
It has been kept here to assist visitors to climb this tricky section. Because of this ladder, the grade of the trek has become easy from difficult.
Before ladder, there is also railing is fixed at the exposed region for safety.
At the top of the ladder, there are steps cut into the rocks that lead up to the top of the fort.
RUINS OF FORTIFIED WALL
After climbing rock cut steps, you will observe ruins of the wall of Asherigad on the one of the cliff that facing towards the highway.
PORTUGUESE POST OF ARMS
It engraved in rock before the entrance of fort.
It was made of small rocks by local villagers which available throughout the trail route at regular intervals.
RUINS OF ENTRANCE
ROCK CUT STEPS
At the bottom of the steps is a 15 feet tunnel that is presumably for water harvesting and is supposed to lead to a water tank.
It carved in rock that shows fort had a good system of storing water.
There are about twenty similar rock-cut water cisterns or tanks at all corners of the fort.
Fort having two artificial lakes.
One has a stone structure at the far end that has placeholders for idols.
and other pond used for bathing and during season, lots of Lotus bloom here.
RUINS OF UNKNWON BUILDINGS
FOUNDATION OF BUILDINGS
That could have been the residential houses or school that were part of the fort.
Rough the idol of Lord Hanuman – also called Maruti carved in a shallow cave towards the north face of the mountain, with an old cannon lying in front. Cave having pillars and small rooms.
This is the best part of Asherigad in my opinion as one can see clear view of surrounding mountains and NH48.
It could be made to prevent an enemy attack as it looked a weak col for enemies to enter the fort.
It is attached to the main mountains which could be used as a watch tower.
HOW TO REACH
PALGHAR- MASTAN NAKA- KHODKONA- ASHERIGAD
Reach Palghar Station on the Western Railway line of Mumbai. Direct Trains are available or else you can opt to come to Virar and then change the train for Palghar.
ST buses also ply to the base village of Khodkona. First ST bus to Khodkona leaves at 08:00 AM from the Palghar ST Stand.
Otherwise, take any Bus going towards Manor / Wada and get down at Mastan Naka, then opt for Sharing Rickshaw or Van to Khodkana village which lies 1km inside from the highway.
Asherigad is just left of the NH8 highway. If you are driving, look out for an Indian Oil Petrol Pump, and about a kilometer after that is the turn-off. If you take a bus, ask for the Khodkona village bus stop. the turn-off from the highway towards Asherigad is easy to miss. There are a small cabin and a dirt trail leading off to the Khodkona village.
Less than 100 RS excluding food.
ST from Palghar to Mastan Naka(Return): 30 Rs
Share Magix from Mastan Naka to Khodkona(Return) : 20 Rs
TREKKING & ADVENTURE
Asherigad is an easy trek for experienced and medium level for beginner because of steep climbing at last portion but can be done with the family.
Time to Ascend: 2.30-Hour Maximum
Time to Descend: 1-Hour Maximum
The trekking path starts from the hillock north of the Khodkona and winds through the forest to reach Khadkawane. The route is very safe and wide. It takes about an 1.30 hour to reach the col below the fort hill and then half hour to reach the top of fort.
The route from the Bhuranpur village meets at the col. This route is hardly known to anyone.
Total Time required to complete Exploration fort:
Since it has large area and so much explores the top so first refer the map of Asherigad and plan accordingly so that you can able to visit all possible fortifications on the fort. It will require Maximum 2 hours to complete exploration of Asherigad.
FOOD & WATER FACILITY
You need to carry eatables as there no food facilities in top of the fort but local villager can arrange food on-demand and also there is a small shop at the base where you can get soft drinks and chips.
Otherwise, there are good hotels at Mastan Naka and Charoti Naka.
Water from two of the water cistern and one lake can be used for drinking and is available for all 12 months.
There is no proper parking facility at the base village but you can park it on the unusable rice field at the base of the fort or local villager’s home.
The night stay on the fort can be made in the cave on the fort. But only 3-4 people can able stay in the cave. You can set up a Tent at endpoint of the fort.
Otherwise, you can stay in the base village and start your trek early in the morning. The local villagers can make arrangements for the night stay.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
All season but It doesn’t offer many views from the top during monsoon still, the monsoon is the best season to visit. Take care of the slippery rocks during the rainy season and stay away from crabs.
You would be lucky if the weather is clear for you to witness some breath-taking views of the lush green forest and cotton candy-like clouds passing by.
The only fort in Palghar where you can see mountains range all around the fort. you can see Kohoj Fort to the South-West from the top and Adsule Peaks and Medhwan Pinnacle.
Mumbai- Ahmadabad National Highway 48 and Plains to the south east with the hills of Jawhar region.
If you are completed Asherigad trek early and would like to give a visit to Kaldurg Fort which is another Tower of Palghar lies in a midway road between Palghar city and Mastan Naka at Waghoba Mandir stop. It one of the shortest trek as it requires hardly 2 hours to complete trek.
Don’t write on walls of the fort, don’t litter, do not indulge in the act of drinking and smoking on the forts.
Keep our heritage clean!!
Check the blog about my trek experience of Asherigad
Final thought about Asherigad :
‘Although it does not have a promising history and it lies separately from other Sahyadri mountains,
Asherigad is a pride of Palghar that still standing tall and offer much to explore and beauty to admire and cherish.’
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