Malhargad Fort is a hill fort located not far from Saswad, about 30km (19 miles) from Pune. It is also known as Sonori Fort due to the village of Sonori being situated at its base. This was the last fort built by the Marathas in around 1760, and was named after the God Malhari.
Locating the fort isn’t exactly trivial, your best bet is to head to Sonori village and then ask for directions. But using google maps I have managed to figure out how I got there.
I approached Sonori from Saswad, so came into the village from the west. After going through the village (it’s very small), there’s a sharp right turn that will then head through this gate :
Incidentally, on looking at google maps it appears this gateway is part of a rectangular walled enclosure with turrets. It’s not very big, but the gateway I saw was very impressive. I suspect this is part of Krishnaji Mâdhavrâo Pânsê’s palace which is said to be in ruins in the village.
Back to the directions. Instead of entering the gate, I took a smaller trackway that continued straight ahead. This trackway continues for about 1.5km before it starts to get a little too rocky for cars. So I parked up and continued to walk along it, after about 5 minutes the fort comes into view.
From here there are two ways up to the fort; a more gentle path that climbs up to the top running alongside the fort (you can just make it out going from left to right in the above photo), or you can continue along the track to the right of the fort for a little further and basically scramble straight up the hill to the main entrance.
The fort has an initial triangular enclosure which follows the shape of the hilltop plateau, with an inner rectangular enclosure (Bale Killa). The main features inside the fort are :
There’s a number of wells within each enclosure, some have been filled in but the obvious footprint of them exists on the ground. Other wells are completely open, and some rather deep.
Please be careful if you come here with excited children, or during the monsoon when I suspect the vegetation will do a very good job of some concealing them.
Obviously having a reliable source of water was an important factor when constructing the fort.
The tank is in good condition and still holds water. From the other side of the tank (where this photo was taken), you can gain access to the inner enclosure of the fort, where there are more features worth exploring…
Quite surprisingly for somewhere relatively remote, there are two small but well maintained temples here that obviously get visited frequently.
Lord Khandoba Temple – the smaller of the two, with the distinctive yellow turmeric applied to the deities. Lord Khandoba is also known as Lord Malhar, so perhaps the temple helped give the entire fort it’s name.
Lord Mahadev Temple – the larger of the two temples.
If you continue beyond these temples you come to the perimeter of the fort once again, and a great photo spot with an arched doorway framing the landscape far below.
After that, you can follow the fort perimeter wall round to the left and slowly make your way back to the main entrance.
I really enjoyed visiting this fort, in part because of its isolation and absence of other people. I had the entire place to myself and I suspect for many that visit here they will get the exact same experience. During the monsoons this place much be utterly beautiful (and perhaps a little more busy), but at any time of the year other than the height of summer it’s well worth checking out.
The climb up to the fort takes no more than 30 minutes, it’s not huge so about a 1.5 hours would be sufficient to see the interior. Remember to bring water and some food, as there is nothing available to the fort itself and the village of Sonori didn’t seem to have much to offer either.
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