ASHERIGAD – THE PROTECTOR OF PALGHAR

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.

Kelve-Janjira Pankot 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.

Kohoj Fort

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 Fort

INTRODUCTION

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. 

View of Asherigad from Base village Khodkona

HISTORY

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.

PORTUGUESE ERA

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.

Portuguese
Source: Reddit.com

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.

MARATHAS ERA

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.

Marathas vs Portuguese Army
Source : Pinterest

In 1818 Captain Dickinson captured this fort and thus it went into the hands of the British.

British Army vs Marathas
Source : Times of India

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.

Rural Struggle

MAP

Source: Trekshitiz

FORTIFICATION

Waghoba Mandir

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.

Waghoba Mandir of Asherigad

Steel Ladder

Steel Ladder of Asherigad

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.

Earlier this iron ladder was placed on that tricky patch which made challenging to descend specially in monsoon.

Before ladder, there is also railing is fixed at the exposed region for safety.

Railing of Asherigad

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.

Fortified Wall of Asherigad

Portuguese Post of Arms

It engraved in rock before the entrance of fort.

Portuguese Post of Arms of Asherigad

Natural Dustbin

It was made of small rocks by local villagers which available throughout the trail route at regular intervals.

Natural Dustbin of Asherigad

Flagpoint

Ruins of Entrance

Rock Cut Steps

Secret Tunnel

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.

Water Channel

It carved in rock that shows fort had a good system of storing water.

Water Channel of Asherigad

Water Cistern

There are about twenty similar rock-cut water cisterns or tanks at all corners of the fort. 

Water Cistern of Asherigad

Artificial Lake

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.

Pond of Asherigad

Ruins of Rajwada

Foundation of Building

That could have been the residential houses or school that were part of the fort.

CAVE

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. 

Cave of Asherigad
Maruti Mandir in Asherigad
Cannons at Asherigad

Cliff

This is the best part of Asherigad in my opinion as one can see clear view of surrounding mountains and NH48.

Cliff of Asherigad

Wall Fortification

It could be made to prevent an enemy attack as it looked a weak col for enemies to enter the fort.

Small Pinnacle

It is attached to the main mountains which could be used as a watch tower.

Pinnacle of Asherigad

Ruins

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.

ST of Palghar

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.

MASTAN NAKA

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. 

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.

Bhuranpur village route to Asherigad

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.

Hotel at Asherigad

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.  

CAR PARKING

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.

ACCOMMODATION

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.

SURROUNDING

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.

Surrounding Peaks of Asherigad

Mumbai- Ahmadabad National Highway 48 and Plains to the south east with the hills of Jawhar region.

NH48 view from Asherigad

NEARBY PLACESS

KALDURG FORT

Kaldurg Fort

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.

ADVICE

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

Asherigad – Solo Trekking begins

Obviously I felt nervous before doing this solo trek but the day started with different shades of the sky color that sets one of the unique & beautiful mornings I ever have seen, that calm my mind and boost up my confidence in the beginning.

Here is a trek blog about my first solo trek experience of Asherigad.

Read & Feel the Experience!!

Enjoy!!!

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.’

KEEP WANDERING…!!!

-Wandering Mann

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A little Appreciation from you is all I desire…!!!

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