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Malhargad Fort, Pune Overview

Malhargad Fort is the last fort that was built by the Marathas. It is an 18th century monument located in the Western Ghats of India above the Village Sonori, near Saswad, Pune. It is, therefore also identified as Sonori Fort. Malhargad is one of the forts on one side of the Sahyadri Mountains that has the Purandar Fort, Sinhagad Fort and the Vajragad Fort. This portion of the Sahyadri’s is called the Bhuleshwar Range which extends along the east-west direction in the Western Ghats.

Malhargad Fort, just like the other hill forts, is also famous for trekking and a quick getaway. It is frequently visited by locals living nearby on the weekends. A heritage building, a palace belonging to the Panse Family, is also present in the base village of Sonori. Although much of the palace is in ruins, the Malhargad Fort is surprisingly quite intact. Visitors can trek up to the fort, explore the buildings and also enjoy a stunning view of the Sahyadri Mountain Ranges.

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History of Malhargad Fort, Pune

Malhargad Fort was built between 1757 and 1760 by Krishnaji Madhavrao Panse and Bhivrao Yashwant who served as the chief-in-charge of Peshwa Tofkhana. Some historical documents mention visits by Madhavrao Peshwe. Malhargad Fort was basically built to keep a close watch on Dive Ghat which is located along the Saswad – Pune Route. It is the last hillfort built by the Marathas.

The Architecture of Malhargad Fort, Pune

Malhargad Fort takes up a triangular area of the hill plateau in the Bhuleshwar Range. the tall stone wall ramparts enclose the fort premises that consists of a square-shaped fortress, some ruins of a palace, a couple of wells, a water tank, a temple dedicated to Lord Mahadev and another temple dedicated to Khandoba. The temples are small, they house shivlings and can accommodate about 4 to 5 people at a time. Malhargad Fort is a considerably smaller fort compared to the other Maratha Forts in the Sahyadri Mountains Ranges.

Things to do around Malhargad Fort, Pune

Malhargad Fort is a great spot for sightseeing. Its close proximity to Pune city makes it a popular attraction for a quick getaway. Travellers can drive through Sonori Village, Western Ghats of India to reach the fort entrance and explore the attraction. Or, they can park their vehicles at the base village and trek through the hill to reach the top.

A trek up to Malhargad Fort is an easy trek and can be done by beginner and intermediate level trekkers. There are two starting points trekkers can choose from – Sonori Village and Zhendewadi Village. The route to reach these villages is provided below. From either of the villages, the ascent takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on how fast the trekker proceed.

From the top of the Malhargad Fort, one can enjoy a fabulous view of the Sahyadri Mountains, Sinhagad Fort, Purandar Fort, Vajragad Fort, Jejuri, Parvati Hills etc. One can absorb the scenic beauty and click pictures of the valleys and the terrain. Some may also choose to camp out near the fort. Carrying camping gear, tents, snacks, essentials etc. is highly recommended.

Access to food and water could be an issue because one may or may not come across a vendor. So, trekkers are advised to carry enough snacks and bottled water. The area around the fort also has some farms where one may seek permission to camp out overnight. Some of the farm owners also arrange for food and allow bonfire to make the stay a memorable one.   

How To Reach Malhargad Fort

Malhargad Fort is located 30 kilometres from Pune, near Saswad above the village of Sonori. The only way to reach Sonori from Pune is by the roadways. Auto rickshaws may not accept a ride, but one can book a rental cab (OLA or Uber) or drive their privately-owned vehicles to reach the base village via this route – NH 60/ NH 65 – Vignaharta Siddhivinayak Chowk – Tilak Road – SH 64/ Pune Saswad Road. Malhargad Fort is located about 20 kilometres ahead.

Outstation travellers would enter Pune either by State Transport, Railways or the Airways. The closest airport is the Pune Airport located in Lohegaon. Renting a cab from the airport to reach Sonori (37 kilometres away) is the best way to reach the base village. The route travellers need to follow is – Vishrantwadi Lohegaon Road – Airport Road (via Golf Club Chowk, Gunjan Chowk) – SH 60 – Arjun Mansukhani Path – Ashok Marg – Prince Wales Road – NH 65 – Pune Saswad Road/ SH 64.

Pune Railway Station is located about 29 kilometres away from Malhargad Fort. One needs to take the Aga Khan Palace Road – Station Road (Karamveer Dadasaheb Gaikwad Chowk) - Sadhu Vaswani Road – Dakshin Kaman Marg – Prince of Wales Road – NH 65 – Pune Saswad Road. From here one needs to commute 20 kilometres ahead through the Ghats to reach Malhargad Fort.  

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