The Western Ghats are home to some of the most exciting trails and hill ranges in Southern India. They run for a distance of 1600 kilometres over an approximate area of 1,40,000 square kilometres and offer the perfect opportunities to indulge in some adrenaline filled activities, making them the perfect getaway from the cacophony and chaos of the cities. From the plethora of treks across the Western Ghats, the Vasota Trek is definitely a must-do in your adventure bucket list. The short 3-day journey is an ideal way to amp up the thrill in your life and reconnect with the flora and fauna around you.
Know More About
- A Quick Guide to the Vasota Trek
- The Vasota Trek: Journey Through The Jungle
- The Vasota Trek: Of Jungles And Ancient Castles
- Ideal Seasons for the Vasota Trek
- The Best Routes To The Vasota Fort
- Vasota Trek Itinerary: Let’s Go Into the Jungle!
- Trekking Essentials
- Useful Tips For Trekkers
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Summing Up
Standing tall at a height of 3842 feet above sea level, the Vasota Trek presents its visitors with a chance to capture some of the most extraordinary views and images of the Western Ghats and enjoy a thrilling adventure.
A Quick Guide to the Vasota Trek
- Where it is Located: Maharashtra
- Number of Trekking Days: 1 day (3 to 4 hours)
- Max Altitude: 3,842 feet
- Trekking Distance: 6 kilometres
- Trekking Grade: Easy-Moderate
- Basecamp: Bamnoli village
- Best time to visit: Winter season (September to March)
- Livingit Rank: Beginner - Enthusiast
The Vasota Trek: Journey Through The Jungle
Known to the locals as Vyaghragad (Vyaghra= tiger; gad=fort), the Vasota Fort is located near Bamnoli, at a distance of 150 kilometres away from Pune city and 300 kilometres southwest of Mumbai city, in the district of Satara.
The Vasota Fort can be categorised as a part of the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, that is a mere boat-ride away from the fort. A visit to this sanctuary is also an experience you cannot miss out. The landscape is defined by thick and canopied forests, sparkling and pristine lakes and spectacular backwaters and it ensures the perfect and most energetic camping experience one could have.
The trail is said to be one of the most picturesque and thrilling paths in the Sahyadri range and is situated centrally within the wildlife sanctuary.
The Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary was named after the Koyna river which begins and ends with the reserve forest - ultimately forming a larger lake. The river originates from the Shivsagar lake in the south of the sanctuary and culminates at the northern section. The Koyna river basin is also the home to a diverse plethora of wildlife like wild dogs, hyenas, bears and even panthers!
Did You Know?
The Vasota fort is also quite often referred to as “Nandugad”.
The Vasota Trek: Of Jungles And Ancient Castles
The Vasota or Vyaghragad Fort is located in the Satara district of Maharashtra and has a very interesting historical origin to it. Built originally by Kolhapur Shilahara Raja Bhoja II, it was later captured by the Maratha king Shivaji Maharaj in 1660. He had then decided to name the fort “Vyaghragad”, owing it to its difficult nature of defence during the Swarajya mission, of ousting all the Mughal dynasties from the country.
However, in 1818, the British colonials bombarded the Vasota fort and ended up destroying most of the structure.
Ideal Seasons for the Vasota Trek
The Vasota fort, althought at a high altitude, is no Everest. It get's pretty hot there, so anyone who doesn't like sweat should completely avoid this trek in the summer. The rains, although cool, leave the trail slippery and har to traverse on. Winter season is a good mid-ground for the Vasota trek, so if you want to plan the trek, do so in the months of September to March.
- Winter: 20 ° C to 25 ° C (day); 15 ° C to 20 ° C (night)
- Monsoon: 25 ° C to 30 ° C (day); 20 ° C to 25 ° C (night)
- Summer: 30 ° C to 35 ° C (day); 20 ° C to 25 ° C (night)
The Best Routes To The Vasota Fort
The village of Bamnoli is the base camp for the Vasota Trek. This village is around 100 km away from the city of Pune and roughly 242 km away from Mumbai.
From Pune, one can take a local state bus to Satara. And from there you can easily catch a bus to Bamnoli village. Buses to Bamnoli start commuting as early as 5:45 AM for a reasonably cheap fare of INR 40, and a one-way journey takes around an hour.
If you’re travelling by a private vehicle or a cab, you can drive to the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, through the Kaas Bamnoli Road.
From Bamnoli village, you can also take a scenic boat ride to the Vasota Fort, that crosses over the Koyna river. The ferry lasts for about 45 minutes to an hour and the price for a single boat costs INR 2000 for one way, and INR 3000 including return.
The cost of the boat is irrespective of the number of people on the boat. It’s always best to enjoy this ferry in groups of 9 or 10 - and it’s cheaper!
Jarandeshwar Railway Station, Satara and the Satara Railway Station are the closest railway stations to Bamnoli.
Vasota Trek Itinerary: Let’s Go Into the Jungle!
Once you reach Bamnoli, you can explore the place a little and see how different the village life is from the chaotic city life. You can evan have a meal and try the local cuisine if you like.
Bamnoli - Vasota Fort via Met Indavali | Ferry to Vasota Fort
After relaxing at the Bamnoli village, trekkers can proceed towards the Met Indavali village, from where the actual hike to the Vasota Fort begins. But before the trek starts, trekkers and campers like to enjoy a scenic boat journey across the pristine Koyna river. After the ferry, one can continue their journey towards Met Indavali and the Vasota Fort. The climb is relatively steep and trekkers would have to be extra careful during the monsoon seasons as the trail becomes muddy and slippery.
Upon reaching the Vasota fort, one is welcomed by the mysterious air of the ancient structures at the top. Although the centuries-old fort is almost in ruins, the high altitude fort still commands the view of all its visitors. Trekkers can spend some time exploring the fort and enjoying the mesmerising view of the various temples and ranges in the surrounding the area.
The descent back to the Bamnoli village is through the same route and is relatively easy and quicker trudge.
The Wildlife at the Koyna Sanctuary
The Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary is flanked by the Shivsagar Lake on one side and the hills of the Western Ghats on two other sides as if Mother Nature herself was fortifying it. This natural protection has allowed for the emergence of a plethora of flora and fauna in the area, making it rich in biodiversity. Between the North Western Ghats rainforests that are high up at an altitude of 1,000 m, and deciduous forests in the lower regions, you can find flora like Anjani, Jambul, Hirda, Awala, Pisa, Kinjal, Umbar, Jambha, Gela and Bibba. The Karvi plants are scattered all over the region and you can find one at every turn you take. Climbers like Shikekai and Garambi add their own charm to the scenery.
On the fauna front, the sanctuary is full of keystone species like the Bengal Tigers, Indian Leopards, Indian Bison, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Common Gray Langurs, Sloth Bears, Smooth-Coated Otters, Sambar Deer, and Indian Giant Squirrels. Birds like Heart-Spotted Woodpecker, Rufous Woodpecker, And Brown-Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Long-Tailed Nightjar and Crested Goshawk provide for rhythmic background music with their sweet tweets.
Despite being a simple trek, you will need a few essentials to complete the Vasota trek. Here's a generic list of essentials you'll require:
- A backpack or a rucksack that has a capacity around 40-60 litres and broad and sturdy shoulder straps, for better support
- Trekking shoes that are sturdy and with a good grip to help you traverse through the slippery inclines
- A trekking pole may not be needed, but it is always better to carry it.
- A reliable flashlight and extra batteries
- A compass and a map of the area
- A raincoat in the case of rains
- Thermals or an extra layer for higher altitudes
- An extra pair of trekking pants and clothes, in case the other gets wet or torn
- Sun caps and sunscreen to protect your skin from the harsh rays at higher altitudes
- Windproof gloves
- A waterproof cover for your rucksacks
- Plastic covers to compartmentalise all your equipment, waste and wet clothes
- Sunscreen to keep your skin protected from the harsh
- Cold cream
- Toilet paper and a few light towels
- Two 1 litre bottles
No matter how easy the trek or how experienced you are, if you’re going on an adventure, injuries are bound to happen. So, always have a medical kit stocked up in your trekking backpack.
- Combiflam as a general painkiller
- Crepe bandage and ointment in the case of any injuries
- A small roll of cotton and gauze
- Moov or Relispray for muscular pulls, aches and sprains
- Antiseptic screams and bug spray
- Dettol antiseptic
Useful Tips For Trekkers
- Due to the lack of clean water source along the trail, always remember to carry plenty of water with you
- During the monsoon seasons, it’s better for first-time trekkers to be accompanied by experienced hikers or a guide
- For beginner level trekkers, the Vasota Trek is best attempted during the winter months
- The Vasota Fort is closed every Wednesday, on holidays like New Year’s Eve and during days of heavy rains. It is always advised to inquire with the local guides and authorities, before commencing the trek.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can we set up camp at the Vasota Fort?
You can go camping, however, not at the Vasota Fort. You can set up camp on the open plateau near the backwaters of the Bamnoli village.
Would camping equipment be provided at the base camp?
No, you would be required to bring your own equipment. Remember to bring dome-shaped tents (that can accommodate up to three people), mats, and sleeping bags.
Are there any water sources along the way?
While there are plenty of waterfalls and streams accentuating the path, none of these can be used for replenishing purposes. It is essential that your carry 2-4 litres of water for the trek.
Is there connectivity at the Vasota Fort?
Network and connectivity are extremely weak and it’s best advised that you inform your family and friends of your whereabouts beforehand.
Can I attempt the trek at night?
The trek must be avoided at night as the Vasota Fort is geographically isolated, with no accommodations and mobile connectivity. It is best to finish the trek during the day and complete the descent before the last transport bus back to Pune or Mumbai.
While India’s pahadi regions have offered trekkers across the world with some of the finest and adventurous experiences, South India does not lag too far behind. Every single trekker and camper who visits any of its treks leaves with a heart and camera full of encapsulating memories.
The Vasota Trek is one of the most popular jungle treks in Maharashtra, situated deep within the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary. The camping experience at the Bamnoli village will offer every single trekker with a myriad of opportunities to reconnect with nature. The Vasota Fort jungle trek and Koyna lakeside camping experience is one that many reminisce days after returning back to the chaos and hustle of the city life. Needless to say, this trek is one of an ideal hiking and camping experiences as its moderate difficulty make it easy for anyone with reasonable fitness to attempt it. It does not demand much time and the sheer breathtaking beauty of the trek definitely places it high on every trekker’s ultimate adventure bucket list.