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A taste of Sahyadri. Accessible monsoon weekend treks for Mumbaikars

Well, the old man called me to his dying bed
There’s only one thing in this world I like to see, he said
I tried so many times but I’ve never done it
Often made the climb but never reached the summit

So I could look down on this pissant little town
I took one step
And another step…

— Mountaintop – Todd Rundgren

The monsoons are here, and the Sahyadris are a lush with all shades of green. If you’re willing to take your weekend plans beyond Lonavala, here are our picks of the best monsoon treks near Mumbai

Karnala Bird Sanctuary & Fort

Easy –  T1 on Swiss Alpine Club Scale (Understand SAC)

Karnala sanctuary is centred on the historic Karnala Fort and lies just off the Mumbai-Pune national highway to Goa. It is located 12 km from Panvel. The nearest railhead is Panvel. Regular buses at an interval of 30 minutes are available from Panvel Bus Stand from 5:00 am to 8:00 pm. The sanctuary is open to visitors from sunrise to sunset. There are many hotels and resorts located near the sanctuary. There are two government rest houses inside the sanctuary area.

While the sanctuary boasts of over 222 bird species, you won’t see many during the monsoon months. However, what you will enjoy are excellent views over the Ransai reservoir, Shiv Nagar and Akulwadi. There are three defined walking trails at the sanctuary, two of which lead to Karnala Fort. These mud and rock child-friendly trails are an excellent starting point for other more difficult monsoon treks.

Complete Karnala Fort Trek Detail.

Irshalgad Pinnacle

Moderate – T2 on Swiss Alpine Club Scale (Understand SAC)

No road link, a secluded village, beautiful vista and a less often used trail makes trekking to Irshalgad feel like rediscovering a long lost civilisation. Irshalgad is an oft-ignored pinnacle located on a plateau that towers over Chowk town on the Panvel – Karjat National Highway NH4.

If you use public transport, then you start your trek at Chowk town between Panvel and Karjat. Chowk is 19 kilometres from Panvel and 12 kilometres from Karjat on National Highway NH4 (old Mumbai-Pune highway). Buses and auto rickshaws plying between Panvel and Karjat stop at Chowk. Chowk also has a small train station and the weekly Pune – Bhusaval Express (Train number 11025 / 11026) halts at this train station. Netaji Palkar, the second Sardar Senapati or Sarnaubat (Commander-in-Chief, Duke) of the Maratha Kingdom under Shivaji was born in Chowk village.

This 3.4-kilometre day trek will test your ability to manage stiff climb, give you a feel for a scramble over an exposed rock face while battling a strong wind.

Complete Irshalgad Pinnacle Trek Detail.

Peth/Kothaligad Fort

Moderate – T2 on Swiss Alpine Club Scale (Understand SAC)

This inverted funnel-shaped watchtower is a natural wonder. Unlike other funnel hill forts, the pinnacle or the funnel is carved from the inside, forming a circular staircase that reaches the top. The superlative view from the top of the pinnacle combined with this unique and awe-inspiring engineering feat definitely deserves a visit.

The best way to reach Kothaligad is to take a suburban train going to Karjat and alight at Neral station. From Neral a regular shared 6-seater(Vikram/Tum-tum) rickshaw service is available to Kashele ( ₹ 55/seat). From Kashele you can catch another shared rickshaw going to Jamrukh and step off at Ambivali village ( ₹ 35/seat). These rickshaws are easily available both ways up to 6 pm.

Kothaligad will test your nerves over a wet rocky climb with little protection, so make sure you have the right footwear.

Complete Peth/Kothaligad Fort Trek Detail.

Bhimashankar Temple and Walls

Moderate – T2 on Swiss Alpine Club Scale (Understand SAC)

Gazing at Bhimashankar’s walls is the most compelling reason to visit Bhimashankar during the monsoons. Bhimashankar temple is located 50 kilometres north-west of Khed near Pune in the heart of the Western Ghats. The temple sits on a plateau that towers 850 metres over the surrounding countryside. The formidable rocky sides of this towering plateau are known as Bhimashankar’s walls. During the monsoons, this rock face is covered with lush green vegetation and is home to numerous thundering waterfalls. The best place to view these majestic walls and waterfalls lies along a trekking trail that connects Bhimashankar to the sleepy hamlet of Khandas.

There are two established trekking trails between Khandas and Bhimashankar. The first of these trails is called “Sidhi Ghat”. This route is named after the three ladders or Sidhi (in Hindi) that have been placed along some tricky sections on this trail. The second trail is known as “Ganesh Ghat”, named after a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesha which falls on this route. Among the two alternative trekking trails, Ganesh Ghat is a longer yet less challenging route. However, what this trail lacks in difficulty, it makes up for some magnificent views of Bhimashankar’s walls.

Complete Bhimashankar Trek Detail via Ganesh Ghat.

Before you head out trekking, do go through our monsoon trekking tips. Do share your monsoon trekking stories with us in the comments below. 

Published in Opinion & Tip


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