At a distance of 41 km from Panchgani and 59 km from Mahabaleshwar, Kamalgad, also called Bhelanja or Kattalgad, is a square hill fort situated near Wai in Satara district of Maharashtra. It is one of the popular places of heritage in Maharashtra, and among the must include places in Panchgani packages.
Situated at an elevation of over 4511 feet, the fort offers breathtaking views of the magnificent Dhom Dam. The builder of the fort is unknown. During Maratha times, Kamalgad, Pandavgad, and other forts in the area were administered by a Mokasaddar from Bijapur. Early documents written in Modi script of the Marathi language refer to the fort as Kattalgad. In April 1818, Kamalgad surrendered after resistance to a British army commanded by Major Thatcher. Under the British, the fort was used to execute prisoners of war. It is one of the famous places to visit in Panchgani.
The fort covers a flat area of nearly 3-4 acres and is surrounded by thick woods and steep rocks which have to be carefully scaled to reach its base. Earlier, the only way to reach this place was through an artificial tunnel, which is now blocked by a big rock. There are no buildings on the top or walls of any kind or even a gateway, which is unusual for a fort in this area.
The only structure on the top is a well sunk right through the rock, into the soil below which still has water. The well is eighteen to twenty feet deep. The sides of the well which were formed of the natural rock were reported to have contained recesses in which criminals were placed. They had to choose between starvation and drowning to decide their mode of death.
Kamalgad Fort trek starts either from Vasole village or from Nandgaon. The trek route to the fort is well-trodden initially. The path is so steep and narrow. As one gradually starts ascending towards the gorge between a hill and Kamalgad fort, many cattle routes emerge out. It is advisable to confirm the directions with local people or shepherds. Always follow the ascending direction. From the gorge take the left turn and follow the route till Gorakshnath temple and then take the left turn and follow. After walking for about 20 minutes, trekkers can reach the highest point of the fort. It is advised to check the route with locals at frequent intervals.
Timings: 6 AM - 6 PM