After months of stifling heat, terrible air quality, water shortages, and dust that falls into even the most protected places, monsoon comes in like a knight in shining armor, solving all the problems and covering every organic surface with emerald green. Little flowers and grass pop up, and the trees get a good washing from the rains that pour in. The air is suddenly breathable and the temps go back to being enjoyable. It’s pure magic.
A few weeks following the first rains, we knew the grass had had a chance to grow just enough to be beautiful and decided to head out to a fort. There are a lot to choose from in our area, but we chose Raigad. Not due to its proximity to Pune (it ended up taking us 6 hours to get back with the weather) but due to how low-impact it would be to access it. We had done pretty heavy leg workouts earlier in the week so didn’t want to put ourselves through the agony of a real trek, and most forts in the area demand a decent amount of energy. This was a great choice because Raigad was as easy as taking a cable car, climbing some steps, then wandering around on a flat surface.
The fort is about 4 hours southwest of Pune, though with a stop in between for bathroom/tea/snack, and whatever delays there are with traffic, I’d budget 5 hours. The drive goes through mountains, farmland, and small villages, providing some great valley views and scenic stops along the way. Once reaching, there is parking available and several little restaurants and shops. You can take a trek to the top (difficult) or you can buy a ticket to ride the cable car (easier and fun) through the mist and see the beauty of the cliff’s face as you ascend.
At the top there is a small snack stand with a limited menu, a few tour guides, ticketing counter for the fort, and restrooms. After passing this, stairs take you to the temple, statues, and fort. You can spend at least an hour and a half wandering around without getting bored and there is so much to see!
Now, I can’t tell all the good without mentioning an unfortunate truth of our experience. We visited this fort during peak mischief time (monsoon/rain/weekend) but even that should be no excuse for what happened to us. While walking through the fort we were stared at, commented on, and approached for photos, mostly by young men, and not in a nice or polite way. There were several of them who whistled and hissed at me, and if I hadn’t been in India as long as I have, it would have been scary.
So, if you are reading this and are a local, I appeal for you to do what you can by talking to the young men you know about respecting others and your national monuments. This behavior creates a hostile and frightening environment that perpetuates the stigma of India being an unsafe place to visit, especially for women, and by acting this way at national monuments you are showing disrespect for the legacy left by the people who built and fought for it.
That being said, I would visit Raigad Fort again and it definitely gets thumbs up from me! I might go during the week or with a bigger group next time, but overall it’s a fun trip and you could even pair it with a two-day excursion staying over at one of the resorts in Lavasa or Mulshi. It was a nice drive, a pleasantly easy walk, and there was plenty to see and do.