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Head for the hills

Author: admin

A monsoon trek is an apt antidote to urban chaos. Here are some trails around Mumbai for the adventurous silver

 
Once the monsoon arrives, the entire Sahyadri region of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra erupts in myriad shades of emerald and jade. The weather turns cool and, after a sultry and muggy summer, the patter of raindrops signals a joyful transition from a scorcher to an invigorating three months.

But gazing at rain-soaked concrete and asphalt is no way to spend this season. If you want to really soak in the essence of the monsoon, grab your rain gear and had for the great outdoors; it’s a natural mood-enhancer and a super way to spend some quality time with family and friends.

There are many established hiking trails in the Sahyadri range accessible from Mumbai and other towns in Maharashtra. A seasoned hiker can guide you past scenic ‘points’ that offer hypnotic views, show you intriguing natural formations, and lead you to hill forts, most of which were built by Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji.

If you’re thinking there’s plenty of walking involved, sure there is. The good news is there is a variety of treks to choose from, depending on duration and how inclined the path is. A good guide will be able to help you choose.

Silvers who are used to walking in the outdoors with satisfactory fitness levels and no knee problems should consider the trails in our list below. However, trekking is not recommended for individuals with respiratory problems like bronchitis or asthma, or for those with high blood pressure. So if you have decent fitness levels and want to do something different, you should go ahead and try one of these:

Six monsoon treks near Mumbai

 
Rajmachi: Known for its two citadels, this is a magnificent fort 13 km from Lonavala. Nature lovers flock here just before the monsoon to witness an unbelievable phenomenon – the mating of fireflies. Lakhs of glow worms put on a spectacular display of light in the dense forests, throughout the night.

Asherigad: Built by Raja Bhoj of the Shilahara Dynasty 800 years ago, Asherigad towers above the other forts in the Palghar region due to its sheer size and height. It takes 90 minutes to reach the col (lowest point on a mountain ridge) and another half hour to reach the top. Remains of settlements, a ruined entrance, fortification symbols, an ancient Portuguese shield carved in stone, water cisterns, lakes, a cave and a temple are the highlights to see on top, apart from views of the Adasul and Kohoj forts.

Mhatarichi Khind: This walk takes place at the foot of the famous hill station Matheran, at Dhodani village. From here, one can crisscross forests and seasonal rivulets through the valley between Prabalgad fort and Matheran. The trek ends at Ambewadi, beneath One-Tree hill point, on the Chowk side of Morbe dam. Panvel is surrounded by many famous hills and mountains to its east. A few of them are colonial hill stations, and a few forts that go back to the Yadava and Shilahara dynasties.

Umberkhind: This is a trek steeped in history. It is in these ravines or khind that Chhatrapati Shivaji defeated Uzbek General Kartalab Khan by trapping, ambushing and attacking his armies from all sides in the dense forests. The trek starts at Umberkhind, where you cross meadows and streams and climb to reach the plateau below Duke’s Nose. This trek combines all kinds of terrain and makes the most of the rains! It takes 4 to 6 hours to complete.

Duke’s Nose: As one drives up to Khandala, Duke’s Nose is hard to miss. It is a prominent rock structure that looms to the right – the very top of this is our destination! According to legend, it was named after the Duke of Wellington, whose nose allegedly resembled the shape of the cliff. The trek starts at Kurvande village, after which the walk becomes slightly steeper, stepping over craggy rocks to scale the top. This is a beautiful trek especially when accompanied by wind and rain.

Palasdari: Palasdari is a small fort but not frequented much by trekkers. The climb to the fort is simple but finding the route can be a little tricky. On the top, you will see two ancient water tanks, with remnants of ramparts. Beautiful views of Borghat can be had from the top of this fort. From here, gaze out at Rajmachi, Dhak, Bhivgad and Prabalgad too.

Must-haves

  • Sport shoes, rubber-soled
  • Full trousers (light/quick drying) or track pants, and full-sleeve T-shirt/cotton shirt
  • Cap
  • Rain-cheater (no umbrellas or long raincoats)
  • Water bottle (2 litres)
  • Camera (optional)
  • Backpack
  • Extra set of clothes
  • Light towel
  • Floaters or slippers

Basic, non-negotiable ground rules to follow while on a trek

  • Always follow the instructions of your trek leader
  • Do not wander from the group. Getting separated from the group is risky
  • Respect nature
  • Do not litter

— Milind Bhide, Founder, Countryside Adventure Holidays

July 2018