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On muddy trails

If green’s your thing, then trekking in the monsoon is a must-do. However, your usual haunt in the Lower Himalayas isn’t the easiest place to conquer in the rains. Don’t mope.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2009 01:33 IST
Aalap Deboor

If green’s your thing, then trekking in the monsoon is a must-do. However, your usual haunt in the Lower Himalayas isn’t the easiest place to conquer in the rains. Don’t mope. Just head west to the Sahyadris that are criss-crossed with cool brooks and spectacular waterfalls at this time of the year.

Like the Himalayas, the Sahyadris have a tribe of loyal trekkers who spend every free weekend exploring any of the 300 forts that pepper the hills.

“On the Rajmachi trek, there are just so many waterfalls around you that you tend to lose count,” says trekker Aditya Madanapalle.

Many trek to Harishchandragarh just to catch a sight of the ‘indravajra’, a disc-shaped rainbow that forms all around you, when the clouds are low.

Here’s our pick of 10 treks, some familiar, some lesser-trodden paths, that are must-dos.

Lohgad

This is one of the most grandiose forts in the Sahyadris and has managed to retain its impenetrable fortifications till date. The village at its base is about 5 km from the Malavali station near Lonavla. The climb is easy even in torrential rains.

Rajmachi

You can see the Shrivardhan and Manoranjan fortresses when you scale the Rajmachi cliff. You can also explore many monuments, caves and old temples here. The climb is easy, and you can take a break at Uhdewadi, a small village en route to the top.

Rajgad

Rajgad is one of the bigger forts and is well known for its architecture. In the monsoon, a thick fog shrouds the peak, with the fort barely visible. Experts suggest making this a two-day trek.

Naneghat

This thumb-shaped peak is well known amongst trekkers for its enormous caves. The clouds hang literally above your head and trying to spot far-off places becomes difficult. There’s a small stream on top that has potable water during the monsoon.

Ratangad

Go to Ratangad for just one reason — its unobstructed view of the sprawling Bhandardhara dam. That apart, the three most difficult peaks in the Sahyadris — the Alang, Kulang and Madan — are visible here. This is a two-day, moderately-difficult trek.

Harishchandragad

Seasoned trekkers call the space around the fort ‘a classic manifestation of the human perception of heaven’. The Kokankada cliff, where the breeze is overpowering, can be seen majestically spread out 2,200 feet above sea level.

You can start off from Khireshwar and finish the trek in two days.

Vyagreshwar

This nondescript place is near Pen, after you turn right at Sapoli Phata. It doesn’t attract too many trekkers and is marked by an expanse of lush greenery. An ideal one-day trek.

Shindola Fort

This climb is easy, save for a few jagged areas in between, which get slippery. The shallow trenches that the main plateau is riddled with are a saving grace in heavy rainfall. The Nalichi Vat, the tougher of two ways to get to Harish-chandragad, is visible. And it is scary!

Kalavantin

This one’s a renowned pinnacle right next to Prabalgad Fort. The way up is short and easy. Small creatures like crabs and snakes scurry about, giving photography enthusiasts some good shooting opportunities.

Kalsubai

And lastly, Kalsubai, or the ‘Mount Everest of the Sahyadris’, as the trekkers call it, is famous as the tallest peak of the Sahyadris in Maharashtra, standing 1,646 metres above sea level.

Don’t let its height intimidate you, it is one of the easier treks because of its well-developed trails.

Let the sheer ecstasy of being at the top inspire you.