Winter Treks in the Western Ghats
Posted by Priyanka Lahiri on December 10, 2016
“Go with the wind, the cold and beautiful sun hiding behind the mountain!”
One of the most beautiful times for a city like Mumbai is when we get to experience the pleasant weather during winters. No matter how short lived it is or how it cannot be compared to the striking scenes up north around the Himalayan mountains, it is always worth experiencing.
For trekkers and mountaineers, who cannot just hop-skip-jump into the lap of the Himalayas, we make do with the Sahyadris in the Western Ghats. Older than the Himalayas and rich in bio-diversity, the Sahyadris are a pleasurable sight. More than the views, it is the experience of winter – climbing along with the cold winds that make for a really enchanting view up on top.
The chilly and the strikingly fresh breeze of winter brings along the best time to go trekking in and around the Sahyadris. Best thing is most of these treks are doable over the weekend if you live in or around Mumbai and Pune.
Here are some of my favourite treks in the region:
While this may not be the most challenging or for that matter have the most breath-taking views across the mountains, this is one of the best places to go to around this time, purely because of the amazing weather that the surroundings of this fort offer.
At 3389 feet above sea level, surrounded by the foggy and misty mountains with weather even chillier than Mumbai, this fort near Lonavala is easy to drive down in a day and come back the same evening after you complete the trek. Alternatively, you could just pack your saddle and leave at midnight, take a detour and from the Malavli station route. The few times I’ve been there, I’ve always preferred this route as it is more than just climbing some stairs and you could actually hike your way up. The two good things about this route is that you get to park your car at a proper spot and if you don’t have a car, you could come by train.
Starting post-midnight, say around 2 am, would give you an advantage of reaching the top in time for the magnificent sunrise overlooking the Pavana reservoir, located to the south of the mountain. The hill extends to the northwest to a fortified spur, called Vinchukata translated as the Scorpion’s tail because of its resembling shape. You can get there by walking down a short trail which is connected to this spot.
Also read 5 Winter Weekend Getaways near Mumbai
While the best time to visit this place is certainly during the Monsoons, winter isn’t a bad time to climb this beauty of a fort at 2815 feet. This place is certainly interesting especially known as a popular trekking destination and a paradise for rock climbers because of many nearby pinnacles with interesting names like Vazir, Vishnu, given by the local trekking and climbing fraternity. The easiest way to get to this destination is driving down on the Mumbai-Nashik highway or boarding a train to Asangaon and from then on walking to the basecamp which is in the Mahuli village where you’ll find a Shiva temple. If you drive down there early in the morning, you will notice many trekkers who have reached early, camping in the Shiva temple.
That’s quite a place if you haven’t got the shacks which are also available if you want to camp overnight. An interesting piece of history around this fort is that it’s created by the Mughals in 1485 and conquered by Shivaji in 1685. Now it has been declared as a protected monument and the forest surrounding Mahuli as a sanctuary. Certainly worth a visit if you want to witness beauty and historic semblance.
This has to be one of the most arduous yet rewarding treks around Mumbai. Most trekkers find this one on top of their list, if you compare it with some of the gruelling treks in the Sahyadris. While Alang, Madan, Kulang, Duke’s Nose and Vasota are among the most difficult ones to trek (moderate to difficult range), they are also very beautiful to climb. Many trekkers prefer this trek in the winters as they get to take a shot at rappelling down from Konkan Kada, literally a parallel and flat range of mountain ranges atop Harishchandragad, from where the thrill to get down is really something that gets you excited.
Harishchandragad is a fort located in the Ahmednagar part of Maharashtra state in India. It held a lion’s share in controlling the surrounding areas. This fort has got an eye pleasing natural beauty, along with a diverse flora and fauna. Harishchandragad is famous for a lot of specialities such as its marvellous natural beauty, tough trek and none other than the beautiful Konkan Kada. Also, this destination actually gives you an opportunity to do rappelling, rock climbing and valley crossing all in one trek. Located in the Malshej Ghat, at 4671 feet above sea level, this trek should take you an average of 6-7 hours to reach the top. What’s interesting is after that you get to camp in the Ganesh Caves and that’s quite an experience especially if you have some coal, and food to cook for a camp out.
Would you like to meet the fireflies of Purushwadi?
Another popular destination for trekkers nearby Mumbai. Again, considering the level of this trek, this is very popular amongst trekkers around this time of the year, considering the beautiful peak view it offers and of course that you can easily do it in a day and come back especially if it’s a weekend trek for you. There are two routes to this trek, one from Lonavala and another one from Karjat. The latter is the tougher one yet more exciting, especially if you’re up for a climb of almost 2000 feet as opposed to a plain walk from the Lonavala side. It is also popular from an eco-tourism perspective considering the way Rajmachi Rural Aid and Development Program, an NGO, has worked commendably in Udhewadi village by providing the villagers with better education, medical aid, drinking water, houses and economic development through eco-tourism.
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Which are your favourite treks in the Western Ghats?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Srinivas Kulkarni is a Wandering Thinker, Pondering Writer, and an avid traveler. He has traveled to various parts of India and writes interesting stories of people and places he experiences. He loves the Himalayas and makes it a ritual to go there at least once a year. He aspires to be a travel author one day, hoping to write a magnanimous journey of his sojourns across the world! You can find his travelogues at www.srinistuff.com and you can tweet him @srinistuff.
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