NITN | @notintownlive | 09 Aug 2021, 08:56 am
As the monsoon strikes the Western Ghat, the parched earth awakens to life. Watered by the showers, the brown barren hill slopes turn verdant. Often clouds descend to earth. Waterfalls tumble down through the greenery. This is the time to go trekking in the hills of Maharashtra. Apart from the scenic beauty, you will also come within touching distance of history as many of the hills are topped by ruins of old forts.
However, do remember to be cautious as some of the trails can be slippery, especially around the waterfalls. Wearing proper trekking shoes is must. Also, you have to carry adequate rain-protective gear; if you are a photographer, ensure you are carrying protective gear for your equipment too. Many of the trails have iron ladders fixed on the mountain walls to help trekkers. Do check the condition of the ladders and the railings as these may not have been maintained well. Carry drinking water, some light refreshments (but remember not to litter) and basic first aid.
For amateurs and first timers, safety lies in numbers. It is always advisable to take a local person along as a guide (settle on the quantum of payment before starting). Otherwise you may join a regular trekking group.
While you have to follow all pandemic-containment protocols, it is also advisable to check at the base village if there are any local restrictions – for example, entry inside the forts.
The seven trails mentioned here vary from easy to moderately difficult.
Photo by RAAHi Trekkersï»¿/Facebook
Andharban or the ‘dark forest’ is an interesting jungle trek, which requires descending through forested trails and verdant valleys. The ridge offers a view of the Bhira Dam and the Tamhini Ghat. Weather permitting, you may descend to Bhira Dam or pull up at Hirdi and continue to Pimpri Dam.
How to go: Pimpri village near Pune is the starting point.
Photo by Sushma Shinde/Facebook
This trek takes you right inside the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary. The trail includes a mix of forested paths, ladders, and rock climbing. You are likely to see langur monkeys, birds, or even a deer on the way. There are two popular routes inside – Ganesh Ghat and Shidi Ghat. According to veteran trekkers, newbies would do well to take the Ganesh Ghat route. As you ascend, you will find the trails finally meet and continue as one.
How to go: From Karjat or Neral railway stations, there are private jeeps and auto-rickshaws till Khandas village, from where the trek starts.
Photo by Ananda Bangar/Facebook
Located in Igatpuri in Nashik district, it is one of the most popular trekking points of Maharashtra. Kalsubai (5,400 feet) is the highest peak of the state. The ladders on the rock wall are helpful in reaching the top.
How to go: Bari village is the starting point. You will have to hire a private vehicle to reach the village from Kasara Railway station
Photo by Ashwin Langote/Facebook
The thumb-like pinnacle that you see while travelling along the Mumbai-Goa route, especially while travelling through the Karnala wildlife sanctuary, lies at the end of one of the most popular trekking routes from Mumbai. The trail runs through the forest to end at the fort perched at 1,500 feet. During monsoon, you are likely to see a variety of birds on the way. Railed steps lead to the final stretch to the fort.
How to go: Shirdhon village near Panvel is the starting point of the trek.
Off the Mumbai-Pune highway, this trek route is popular with beginners, especially owing to the waterfalls which fall on the way. The old fort, perched at 3,389 feet, overlooks the Pavna reservoir. A flight of stairs leads to the fort, which still retains ruins of its four gates and a few other structures.
How to go: Bhaje village (famous for its ancient caves) off the Mumbai-Pune highway is the starting point.
This historic mountain pass, perched at nearly 2,600 feet, is believed to have been an ancient trade route connecting the Konkan coast with Junnar village near Pune. Apparently, there was a toll booth here and hence the name – Nane meaning coin and Ghat meaning Pass. Inscriptions in caves located here say that the area was rules by the Satavahana dynasty.
How to go: Malshej Ghat bound buses from Kalyan can drop you at the Vaishakhare village from where the trail begins.
Photo by Gear to Summit/Facebook
The ruins of Prabalgad (located at 2,300 feet) occupy the top of the hill. To reach it, you have to first walk up to Prabalmachi from where the trail enters the dense forest and passes through a deep gully.
How to go: From Panvel, buses go up to the nearest point Thakurwadi
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