Of all the various forts located in the Junnar, Malshej Ghat region, within Pune or thane districts, Bhairavgad near Moroshi might be the least known. Shivneri, Hadsar are well known. Harishchandragad, AMK, Ajooba, Naphta etc, dominate the landscape to the west of the valley. Not that there is much to see on Bhairavgad, except a few abandoned huts and 4 huge bulls who graze about (Valus). They are really huge, often seen grazing together. We were warned at the village, not to make too much noise or attract their attention. I can imagine only image our fate, if we indeed had them on our tails. A scramble downhill at breakneck speed – one speed record we never want to break.
The distinctive feature though is a huge rock wall that stands up between the peak and the approach ridges. It is a vertical structure, without leaning anywhere. On its face on the peak side, were rock cut steps, once upon a time. Some of them still exist up a distance as we begin an ascent, but after that it is a technical climb all the way. Towards the top again, a few sturdy steps give you some hope. The tallest peak is 3000 m in height and the rock wall matches it. I believe it has strategic outpost value than anything else. From the top, you can keep a watch on the entire valley that opens up, not only in the front, but also behind the peak, to the east. The east is dominated by Jivdhan and Naneghat.
The village is located on the state highway ahead of Malshej ghat. Keep looking out for a rock pinnacle to your left are you travel along the road from Pune. Once you spot it, you can take a stop at the Kahjuraho Beer bar and a tea stall. That infact is also the start point for the village. It is best to take someone from Moroshi to show you the way to the top. The approach ridges are numerous and it is easy to be misled, though keeping the rock wall in sight helps set the directions.
There is no well beaten path that you can really follow. The initial route meanders through fields until you start ascending gently. The terrain alternates between loose soil, pebbles to rock patches, slippery hay and Karvee thickets. I image that in all seasons, a lot of hay or grass makes the road difficult to tread and to keep a foot hold. Also, it is easy to get lost in the thick karvee. After the initial part, the ascent becomes steep and you begin to see some cacti along the way. At one point the road turns in the direction away from the peak and it is easy to assume that the route is wrong. But infact, it is not. What you ideal end up doing is ascending till the top of a ridge, then circumventing a rocky patch to reach directly on top. Once on top, you will see the rock wall facing you once more and a huge plateau opens up. This is the area of the valus and the abandoned huts. You will also find a Bhairavanth temple under a huge tree. It is hardly a temple to speak of, a place indicted by green bangles and a bunch of tiny cradles hung by a trishul. It is a blink and miss.
The plateau has a lot of wet soil mingling with some rock patches. A lot of crabs can be seen crawling about in the moist surroundings. As you make your way towards the rock face, you enter a small jungle. Keeping on the right direction is important since visibility ahead is low. Right after you emerge from it, is a steep rock patch that will take some time to climb. Mid way, you will come across a rock cut water reservoir. The water is great, and very potable. Make sure you take your fill as there is no other source ahead. Then you are suddenly there. The sheer rock face stands tall next to you. Realization hits home, to be replaced soon by marvel. At this point is will be good to look behind, at the road you have tread to reach here. And also at the grand peaks that stand out across the valley – AMK, Harishchandragad, Naphta, Ajooba, Konkan kada etc.
On the top:
Once past the water tank, and some distance ahead, the route turns to your right. This leads you straight to the pass which joins the rock all to the peak and opens up the next valley. There is a lot of loose scree, so watch out. Your climb will end when you reach this pass other side of the rock wall. You can see some steps leading towards the top and then after a point they suddenly disappear—blow away by the British to prevent freedom fighters from hiding or conducting meetings there.
The rock climb starts on an interesting note. At the end of the steps, you have to enter a rock cut cave via a rabbit hole. This cave might have really been a water tank, gauging its depth. Then you have to climb the high wall of this cave using a piton permanently driven in the wall. Once you are on the ledge, you have to work around the cave pillar and land on the other side, all of this in one step. The rush starts from here. There is a climb of about 12 feet before your feet find some more sturdy steps. There is an overhang where the steps turn and disappear upwards. After that it is only you and your grit that take you all the way to the top. Well, you can’t really go all the way up, cacti block you way. The path is more or less made by steps, generous in some places, quite narrow in others. But the trip is worth it for the view.
The climb down is the same way, you can choose to rappel down, but that is not really necessary. The walk down is pleasant when you are not losing your footing in the hay and over the loose stones. It should take you about 1.2 to 2 hours to come down and meet the tar road.
The recommended way to time this trek is to travel in the night and stay at Moroshi, then start early for the peak. It will take you a good 3 hours to reach the pass to begin the rock climb. Try and get back to the base by 5 pm, while it is still light and you can see in the thick jungle.
Difficulty Grade: 3/5