With a few solid weeks to go before the rain disappears on us, make the most of monsoon season by exploring the breathtaking Western Ghats. And, by exploring, we mean places beyond the usual suspects like Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Lonavala, Lavasa, Karjat and Malshej Ghat! Here are eight fantastic spots to hit up, all within a five-hour distance of Mumbai –
Less than two hours away from central Mumbai, Mahuli is a great place to embark on an adventurous hike during the monsoon. A three-hour trek will place you in front of a majestic fort, Shiva temple and caves overlooking lush forest land. Not only is Mahuli the highest point in Thane, the stone carved path leading up to the fort is gorgeous, too.
If you want to use public transportation, you can take a train to Asangaon Station and then catch an auto rickshaw for about 5 kilometers. You can’t really stay in Mahuli, unless you want to crash at the temple. However, you can camp out if you are seeking a few thrills. Our advice would be to plan this as a same-day outing, instead.
Located at an elevation of 1646 meters, Kalsubai is the highest point in Maharashtra. Visit the Everest of Maharashtra, which is just 3 hours away from Mumbai in Ahmednagar. The beautiful mountain range falls within the Kalsubai Harishchandragad Wildlife Sancutary, and you can take some Insta-perfect photos the mountain in its entirety from the nearby Bari Village. Besides trekking, you can also check out Bhandardara Damn, which is 6 kilometers away, and Arthur Lake and Umbrella Falls. If you plan your vacay over a long-weekend, we highly recommend also venturing out another 25 kilometers ahead to the 400-years-old Ratangad Fort!
If you plan on taking a train, get down at Kasara Railway Station. From there, you can either take a state transport bus or private vechcle to the base village. Stay-wise, resorts in Bhandardara will be your nearest and best bet – accommodation fills up quickly during the rainy season, so make sure you do an advance booking to avoid getting stranded!
Brahmagiri Hill & Anjaneri Fort
Approximately 28 kilometers away from Nashik you will find a quaint pilgrimage town called Trimbakeshwar, which is set on the foothills of the Brahmagiri Mountains and banks of River Godavari. Not only is this destination serene and picture-perfect, it also carries spiritual significance as it is home to one of the twelve jyotirlinga temples of Shiva. You can also head down to Anjaneri Fort (approximately 7 kilometres away), which features 108 Jain caves dated way back to the 12th century!
Although a 3-3.5 hour road trip from Mumbai to Nashik has its own charm, you can take a train to Nashik and then catch a bus to Trimbakeshwar. From Trimbakeshwar, you’ll have to take an auto for 3 kilometres to reach the trek’s starting point. Crash at Grape County Eco Resort (under INR 5,000/night) for a luxurious experience. Or, you can pick a suitable budget hotel for less than INR 1500/night.
This beautiful mountain passage is located right between Mulshi and Tamhini, which is roughly 140 kilometres away from Mumbai. You will fall in love with the view of waterfalls, woods and lakes, while you sip on some tea and relish piping hot Maggie. Avoid staying back past sunset, because the place becomes very isolated and fog hinders visibility. These ghats receive the fifth most rainfall, according to The Hindustan Times!
Although you can go through a combination of trains/buses/shared cabs to eventually reach this destination, it is highly advisable to plan this as a hassle-free road trip, instead. You should also be aware that the stretch from the bridge past Kolad toward Pune via the Mulshi dam backwaters is simply heavenly during the monsoon. Stay-wise, you’ll either have to crash in Pune or Mulshi for the night. But, many people return back to Mumbai on the same-day, as well.
Experience monsoon with a splash at Raigad Fort. The thrill of taking a rope-way during the rain is something priceless! Make sure you carry a raincoat because an umbrella will not hold up amidst so much wind and rain. You can rent out raincoats at the rope-way base, but it is best to carry your own just in case they run short. The view is quite something, especially of Ganga Sagar Lake.
Given the 5-hour distance from Mumbai it really is a good idea to stay back for a night. If you’re in luck, you can actually stay at the Raigad MTDC Resort. You can take a direct ST bus from Mumbai’s Parel ST Depot to Pachad Village (Raigad Fort) at 12:15 AM – the bus reaches at 6:15 AM. Alternatively, you can take a train and get down at Veer Railway Station, which is about 40 kilometers away from Raigad, and then catch a taxi.
Torna Fort, also known as Prachandagad, is located in Pune district and holds historic significance for being the first fort captured by Shivaji at the age of 16 in 1646. The base village it Velhe, and the trek takes about 3-hours to complete. This trek is definitely not for beginners given the steepness. Also, do keep in mind mobile network is really weak in this area and there are no shops for food or water along the way.
Although you an stay at Menghai Devi Temple, if you are looking for a more comfortable option, check into a hotel in Pune or Lavasa. Although you can take a train or shared cab from Mumbai to Pune, and then a bus from Swargate ST Stand to the base village of Velhe, a lot of travel bloggers have recommended simply hiring a private vehicle to avoid pre-trek exertion and hassle.
So, which of these six places are you going to visit before monsoon season ends? Comment below and let us know!