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5 Monsoon Treks In Maharashtra

Sahyadri range of western ghat

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Expand your weekend plans beyond Alibaug and Lonavala.

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Do you love the rain? Do you also like spending time outdoors surrounded by lush greenery, where you can breathe in a lungful of fresh, clean air? If you’ve nodded a firm yes to both of the above questions, combine your love for both monsoon and Nature and head for a trek! Maharashtra has some great trails—from easy-peasy to what-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself into—there’s one for all kinds of trekkers!

The Sahyadri (the Western Ghats, as it’s called in the state) mountain range is a sight to behold during monsoon. It’s covered in every possible shade of green you can think of. With many crisscross trails, waterfalls and valleys covered with flowers—the mountains offer a glimpse of what paradise might look like! Here are five treks for nature lovers of varying difficulty levels…

1. VISAPUR FORT

 

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A superhit with newbie trekkers, Visapur Fort is at a higher altitude than its twin, Lohagad.  On the trek towards the fort, you’ll come across many waterfalls. During heavy rains, the steps leading up to the fort will get flooded—causing a ‘waterfall stairway’ that adventure seekers love! Explore the fort, and ruins of a large stone-built house known as the Peshwa’s Palace. The trail begins from Bhaje village which is easily accessible owing to its proximity to the Mumbai-Pune express highway. You must take a tiny detour and visit the historic Bhaja Caves—a must-visit 2nd Century rock-cut caves.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EASY
DURATION: 2.5 – 3 hours

2. LOHAGAD FORT

 

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Lohagad or the Iron Fort is the perfect induction trail for first-timers, as this popular monsoon trek requires no real climbing experience! During the rainy season, the surrounding hills are covered in green and the lakes are pristine and full. The 450-odd steps that lead you to the fort—which is entwined in a protective hug from the clouds when it rains! Lohagad village is located near Lonavala, and it roughly takes two hours from both Pune and Mumbai. Standing next to the Visapur fort on the adjacent mountain, Lohagad looks over the Pavana reservoir. It has stood the test of time and most of its gates are still intact and is now protected by the Archeological Survey of India.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EASY
DURATION: 3 hours

3. RATANGAD FORT

 

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Ratangad in Ahmednagar district translates to ‘Jewel of Forts’. A six-kilometre boat ride from Bhandardara, followed by a four-kilometre walk, will take you to the base village of Ratanwadi. The drive to Bhandardara takes 3.5 hours from Mumbai and 4.5 hours from Pune. Standing tall at the bank of the Bhandardara lake, this is one of the most exciting trails. Follow the moderately steep gradient through dense forests along the Pravara stream. There’s an alternative and tougher route from Samrad. After a final steep climb up iron ladders, the trek ends at a rock peak cavity called Nedhe. The fort offers picturesque views of the lake and the surrounding mountains—Kalsubai, Ajoba, Kulang and more.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: MODERATE
DURATION: 4 hours

4. TORNA FORT

 

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The highest hill fort in Pune district, this classic monsoon trek packs in the thrills of adventure and nature. From Mumbai, it will take you at least four hours by road to get to Velhe village. It’s a historically significant one because it was the first fort to be captured by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. That too when he was just 16 years old! The trek winds through temples, solid-stone buildings and centuries-old tanks—you’ll feel like you’ve time-travelled to another era.  It starts with a gradual ascent, past waterfalls and rugged terrains, and only gets steeper as you get closer to the fort. However, the scenic landscape is totally worth all the huffing and panting: Panoramic views of the adjoining forts and a walk in the clouds. What’s not to love?

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: HARD
DURATION: 3.5 – 4 hours

5. HARISHCHANDRAGAD FORT

 

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This one is not for the faint-hearted, and is best suited for seasoned pros! This long, laborious trek in Ahmednagar district meanders past ponds, caves and peaks. From Khireshwar, it is a steep climb through Kedareshwar Cave and Konkan Kada, whose 80-degree incline makes it look like a cobra’s hood. Harishchandragad dates back to the sixth-century Kalachuri dynasty. Camp overnight at the cave or continue trekking to the highest point, Taramati Peak—for picturesque vistas of Naneghat. Hiking up via the Nalichi vaat or Taramati Ghal trail is NOT recommended during the rainy season.  A five-hour drive from Mumbai will get you to Khireshwar.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: VERY HARD
DURATION: 6 hours

Trekking is a great way to reconnect with Nature after being cooped up at home for most of 2020. Choose a trail that best suits your fitness levels. Plus, make sure you wear sneakers that are anti-slip and carry water to stay hydrated.  An experienced guide will be able to not only explain to you the history of the place but also lead you safely on some of the most challenging trails. So, be smart, stay safe and plan a fun weekend getaway

 

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]

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