The monsoon is here and with it the traffic, water logging and those infuriating pot holes that seem to pop out of nowhere. The rains reign havoc on the city, testing the new thin coat of tarmac used to temporarily pave the way for its arrival. Thundering furiously, brewing up a storm like most of us stuck in city traffic. Somewhere on the outskirts of the city, a few drops of water splash on the dusty soil waking it from its slumber. The rain transforms dry patches of land into lush green meadows. The hills are alive and calling out to you. Fancy a break from the concrete jungle? A great monsoon trek is the perfect answer. Here are a few recommendations in Maharashtra, that will be an instant fix for those rainy day blues.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your wind cheater, gum boots and head out, the hills await.
Ratangad Trek – As the name suggests, is a ‘jewel’ of a Fort situated atop a hill overlooking the Bhandardara region. Kalsubai peak and the Konkan-Kada are visible from here, along with a number of waterfalls. Standing tall amid other great peaks of Alang, Kulang, Kalsubai, and Katrabai, this fort is also a part of the Ajoba mountain range. Ratangad Fort is 400 years old and was captured by fearless Maratha warrior Shivaji Maharaj from the Mughals. Ratangad has a natural peak with a cavity through it called “Nedhe” or “Eye of the Needle”. It is one of the best hill forts in Maharashtra and an Ideal trekking location for trekking around Mumbai and Pune.
One of the most visited hill forts in Maharashtra and also a popular heritage site, Lohagad is situated close the hill station of Lonavala. Also, Know as the Iron Fort, Lohagad is an easy trek surrounded by lush greenery making it a good trek to embark upon as a beginner. The Fort overlooks Pawana Lake and a number of different caves around it. Shivaji used this fort as his royal treasury. The hill fort is designed in the form of a scorpion’s tail. During monsoons, the fort stays covered with mist and clouds and becomes particularly wet with growing moss.
Kalsubai in the Nagar district is the highest peak of the Sahyadri mountain range in Maharashtra. The dream destination of every avid trekker, it is one of the best monsoon treks in the state. According to local legends, it is believed that a housemaid residing in a nearby village had fled to these mountains to escape the suffering her harsh employer put her through. The mountains are her namesake and a temple was also erected in her memory. The Kalsubai peak lies within the Kalsubai Harishchandragad Wildlife Sanctuary and is surrounded on all sides by lush green forests and fields. The trek takes 3-4 hours to reach the peak from the base village of Bari.
Difficulty: Medium – Hard
Rajmachi is a small village surrounded by the rugged Sahyadri mountain range. The fort, one of many such forts found in this range is situated at the peak. Popular among nature lovers, hikers and outdoor campers, the surroundings are full of silvery waterfalls, streams, lush green forests and meadows. Rajmachi Fort was built at a strategic point as it overlooked Borghat which was a historical trade route. With breathtaking views of the valleys, the peak has two fortified structures – Shrivardhan Fort and Manaranjan Fort. There are also Ancient Buddhist caves known as Kondhane caves are situated on the western side of the Rajmachi plateau, which was supposedly carved during 200 BC.
Difficulty: Medium – Hard
Harihar Fort is built on a triangular prism of rock with a one-meter wide rocky staircase carved out to ascend and descend from the fort. The fort of Harihar, lying on Trimbak range, was of significant importance in earlier periods, as there used to be a route crossing this range connecting Maharashtra to Gujarat. There is a small temple of Lord Hanuman and Lord Shiva on the plateau. A small pond is there in front of this temple. Harihar fort is the well famous cliff for chimney style climbing and name given as Scottish fall by trekkers perhaps because it was climbed for the first time in November 1986 by Doug Scott, the legendary Himalayan mountaineer.
Kalavatin Durg Trek
Prominently known as one of the most thrilling forts to climb, Kalavantin Durg takes you through deep forests leading to the pinnacle top.The trek starts with an uphill climb from Prabalmachi. The Kalavatin route is a steep uphill climb through stone cut rocks.Located on a plateau close to Matheran, Kalavatin Durg lies at a height of 2,300 feet in the western ghats. According to legend, it was built for a queen named Kalavantin but that really seems to be all that anybody knows. Kalavantin Durg is a fort that offers spectacular views and that exact feeling of being on top of the world. Trekking during the monsoons and witnessing the greenery all around is indeed a magical experience.
Bountiful rains and greenery all around, Garbett Plateau Trek is one of the most beautiful treks in Matheran. It offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the entire Matheran range. The monsoon summons numerous waterfalls from various mountains en route. The place is flanked with a valley on one side and thick forest on the other. To reach Garbett point trekkers need to cross a stream followed by a steep climb. The climb to Garbett point is a narrow one. A comparatively secluded and less visited vantage point Garbett Point is an amazing place to watch the sunrise or set over the horizon.
Peb Fort also known as Vikatgad is an ancient fort situated near Neral in Maharashtra. A popular one-day trekking destination, Peb Fort lies 2100 feet above sea level. The fort derives its name from the Goddess Pebi. It is believed that Shivaji used the caves in the fort to store grains.The path to the fort crosses through streams, rocky terrain, grassy meadows, dense forests and finally a ladder. The trek from Neral to the fort will take about 2 hours to complete.
Gorakhgad Fort is a dense forest pinnacle that invites rock climbers to test their endurance and thirst for thrill. Historically, the mighty Shivaji Maharaj used Gorakhgad to keep an eye on the surroundings; seeing as this patrol-purposed fort has a good availability of water and a massive area coverage owing to its strategic location. The fort of Gorakhgad got its name from Saint Gorakhnath who is said to have meditated here. Widely used as a stopover for the Maratha Sena, this fort is a must climb for all trekking enthusiasts. If you’re an avid trekker already and are looking for something that challenges your limits and broadens the horizon of your trekking experience, Gorakhgad is the right choice for you
Visapur Fort is a one-day fort trek near Mumbai. It shares a common route with the Lohagad trail hence often called the “Twin Forts of Lohagad”. Visapur Fort is larger and at a higher elevation than its twin. The ruins of a large stone-built house known as the Peshwa’s palace can still be found here. In addition to a huge carving of Hanuman, there are also several temples dedicated to him scattered all over the place. At the end of the trail, you have an awesome view of Pawana Dam and its backwaters. The trek should take approximately an hour to complete.