Where should I go?
Will I be able to manage it?
I think this is a bad idea… you say to yourself, shut the tab from your browsing window and go back to procrastinating!
This is what happens to most beginners when they think about going on a trek. We want to, but we don’t! The most common reason being lack of information about trekking spots. Mumbai may be a city battling congestion, traffic, and pollution but it also offers convenience to trekkers in terms of hiking locations and travel options.
1. Korigad (929 m/3049 ft.)
Korigad/Koregad is one of the easiest treks that one can go on. Cars can now drop you right at its base. The initial part of the trek involves hiking through a densely vegetated terrain but the second level of ascent is even easier due to the presence of well-cemented steps.
The fort was deserted in 1818 whereby it is believed that all the temple ornaments had been handed over to the Mumbadevi temple in Mumbai. The top houses twin lakes along with a temple and offers a panoramic view of the Mulshi Lake. If you happen to trek there during the monsoon, you will be welcomed by a film of mist that dispels with every step you take, as if tantalizing one to relish its secrets one by one!
2. Lohagad Fort (1030 m/3412 ft.)
It is very easy to go to Lohagad trek from Mumbai for due to the availability of transportation. The fort is well preserved and offers an excellent view of the surrounding areas. There are speculations that it used to be a Buddhist religious place but Burhan Nizam Shah II is said to have been imprisoned here in 1564. He offered a bribe to the commander of the fort, captured it and laid a successful siege on Ahmednagar in 1578. Shivaji Maharaj took over it in 1648 and Aurangzeb in 1665. Thereafter, the fort was a subject of conquest between the Marathas and the Mughals until it was captured by Col. Deacon of the British in 1818.
Today, the fort still houses the five gates and the high walls that kept intruders at bay. An interesting feature of the fort is the Vinchu kata (scorpion’s tail). Though a part of it is damaged, it is still considered safe for trekkers to tread there.
3. Visapur Fort (1087 m/3567 ft.)
Located at a higher elevation then its twin fort Lohagad, Visapur is a large and easily approachable fort and is almost always a part of upcoming trekking events in Pune. It has plenty of water cisterns on the top and a long circular plateau. It is said to have been constructed by Balaji Vishwanath, the first Peshwa of the Maratha Empire and was considered strategically important. In 1818, the British troops attacked and captured the fort. Due to Visapur’s proximity with Lohagad, the British loaded their cannons at Visapur, fired them at Lohagad which contained the treasury of the Marathas and were successful in the siege.
Today, all that remains are a few ruins, water tanks and a few temples of Lord Hanuman scattered over the precinct. However, it must be on the list of every trekker who wishes to witness this once important link and re-live history.
4. Karnala Fort (469 m/ 1538 ft.)
Karnala fort is a hill fort that falls under the Raigad region and is a mere 10 km from Panvel. It is an important landmark, thickly forested and has been declared a Bird Sanctuary. The route is well laid out and leads one to the base of the 45 m thumb shaped pinnacle which houses a few caves at its base.
The fort was considered very important as it overlooked the Bor pass which connected the Konkan region to Deccan and was thus a trade route between these regions. There are 125 m tall basalt pillar known as Pandu’s tower which was used as a watchtower in the olden days. The region is lush green during the monsoon and can be accessed due to its convenient location.
5. Tikona Fort (1091 m/3580 ft.)
Also known as Vitandgad, this fort was under Nizamshahi reign until it was captured by Shivaji Maharaj in 1657 along with Mahuli, Lohagad, and Karnala. It was surrendered to the Mughals in 1665 as a part of the Treaty of Purandar but was recaptured by the Marathas within the next five years. It remained in their domain until 1818 whereupon it was captured by the British.
The route to this fort is quite safe and easy. There are rock-cut steps, water cisterns, and caves. A limestone mixer and the idol of Veer Maruti are famous attractions at Tikona. One also comes across various vendors selling hot bhaji, tea and lime juice on their way up which makes the trek a cake walk!
6. Kothaligad Fort (472 m/1550 ft.)
Kothaligad fort is also known as Peth fort and is a great place to trek near Mumbai. It is a small fort which consists of a large cave at its base and the top is shaped like a funnel with a staircase carved in the middle. The history of the fort is a little hazy but it is confirmed that it changed hands several times from the British to the Marathas and back to the British! There are carvings on the temple and the caves which date back to the 13th century.
Today the fort is extremely popular among trekkers due to the ease of ascent and less elevation. It also offers a luscious view of the surrounding forts of Chanderi, Prabalgad, Malanggad, and Siddhagad.
7. Rajmachi (826 m/ 2710 ft.)
Considered as one of the most scenic locations, Rajmachi trek from Mumbai can be accessed from various routes. The easiest of these is the one from Lonavala which stands at a distance of 15 km. It is known for its two forts – the Shrivardhan Fort and the Manoranjan Fort constructed by Shivaji Maharaj. A climb from the base village of Udhewadi will lead one to a plateau between the two peaks. A short walk over a narrow ridge from the plateau leads one to Shrivardhan while another ridge takes one to Manoranjan.
Rajmachi looks heavenly during the monsoons due to the presence of green fields, waterfalls, and mist. One can find various walls and ramparts; a big water reservoir constructed about 200 years ago, offices of British generals as well as an ancient Shiva temple. On the western side of Rajmachi lie the Kondhane caves, which were carved approximately in 200 BCE and have the potential to transport one back in time!
Written by Varsha Mewada (facebook.com/varsha.mewada)