Sondai Fort is popular among the trekkers of Mumbai and Pune. The hill fortress is located in the prime area of Karjat and Sahyadris. The fort trek is covered with endless green carpets of grass and meadows during monsoons. Also the views of gushing waterfalls, rivers and streams are like cherry on the top. It is by far the most conveniently accessed fort trek in Karjat.
Due to its easily accessible route, the fort is famous among trekkers and adventurers. The base of this trek is merely 9 kms from Karjat railway station. The Chowk Phata near Karjat https://www.technewminds.com/is a quaint little place filled with restaurants, hotels and villas. This watchtower-like shaped Sondai fort is surrounded by other tourist attractions like Matheran ranges, Irshalgad, Prabalgad, Rajmachi fort, Karnala Fort and Morbe Dam. Your trek begins from Sonewadi or Wavarle villages.
The trek trail is believed to be medium with a total time of 2 hours to complete the trek. This is a perfect example for one day picnic or one day trek for those who wish to enjoy their Sundays or weekends. It is recommended to begin your journey early in the morning with a fresh mind and excitement. People traveling from Mumbai and its suburbs can get on the earliest local train departing from Mumbai terminus at the crack of dawn and disembark from the train at Karjat station. There are many autos that can easily drop you at the base village of Sonewadi. Have a hearty breakfast at the base or before your climb. There are many food stalls and restaurants that offer delicious poha, wada and chai.
Make sure you begin your hike by 8-9 am as the entire hike may take 2 hours. The terrain becomes slippery and risky during monsoons, although not majorly affecting its adventurous nature. The picturesque soothing views of Sahyadris are the perfect stress busters over the weekends with a sprinkle of waterfalls and foggy paths. A trek to Sondai Fort is truly a long adventurous walk in the mountains with a serene view of ChangeWadi waterfalls and Morbe Dam. As you reach the summit, you will witness the stunning views of the valley and neighboring peaks. Western Ghats never looked more beautiful than this.
Start your descent after a while and get back to the base for a well deserved lunch. You can choose to have lunch at one of the restaurants in the base village or bring your own lunch. Head back home after an adventurous day of exploring and hiking. There are few things one needs to keep in mind to make sure the trek goes smoothly. It is recommended to wear good quality trekking shoes with good grip. Enough drinking water, masks, sanitary products, energy drinks, protein bars, ID proofs and fully covered clothes. The forest patches enroute may cause insect bites or to avoid sun tan.
If you are one of those capturing moments into pixel person, make sure you bring a plastic cover for your electronics and camera if you are planning to trek during monsoons. The rains in the western ghats are intense when compared to rains in the rest of India. Carry a raincoat or a windcheater to cover yourself from the ongoing continuous rains of Sahyadris during the monsoon season. Although this is an all season trek, the peak season for almost all the hill fort treks in Maharashtra is monsoons. The monsoons showcase the epitome of nature’s wonders in the western ghats portraying a totally different view from the Himalayas.
Since the Sondai Fort is not so far from the Mumbai city, the fort trek receives a lot of tourist traffic during the monsoons, weekends and otherwise. The treks of Karjat have subsequently resulted in an increase of camping grounds, villas, restaurants and accommodations. The average cost per person for Sondai Fort trek is Rs. 600. This cost includes an expert guide, transport, first aid etc. The consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and other intoxicants is strictly prohibited to maintain the historic sanctity of the place. Make sure you bring your own trekking gears and necessary cutleries for the trek. If you are traveling via your own vehicle, make sure you follow all the necessary Covid protocols.
All in all, a trek to Sondai Fort is a blissful experience for the trekkers and adventurers out there. It could be definitely categorized in the go-to places around Mumbai if your friend group comes across an impromptu plan. Tighten your shoes and charge your camera as the Sahyadris are calling.