Are you feeling exhausted with the city-life and wish to escape the fast pace? Immerse yourself in nature either through walks, trekking or adventurous activities like rock-climbing. Maharashtra has many such options that are an absolute ‘must-do’ for the adventurer in you. By Moyena Parikh
The unique aspect of most of the treks in Maharashtra is that they are connected to the historical forts that have been conquered by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj during the Maratha reign. Apart from this, submerging yourself in the cool waterfalls that cascade down the mountains is one of the best natural therapies for relaxation.
Not to forget the lush green surroundings and the colourful flowers that calm you down and make you forget about the daily grind of life. The trails may be stairways or paths to heaven after a nice spell of rain. Here is a list of recommended treks in Maharashtra that you can enjoy not only during the monsoons but can escape to on the weekends as well.
Here are some treks in Maharashtra that will leave you spellbound and inspired
Visapur Fort Trek
If you are looking for a famous trekking destination in Maharashtra that has historical relevance, then Visapur Fort is meant for you. Built by the first Peshwa of the Maratha Empire, Balaji Peshwa, during 1713-1720 CE, the fort protects Lohagard Fort that helped the British troops overpower the Marathas back then.
Located in Lonavala at a maximum altitude of 1,084 metres, this trek rewards you with lush greenery and moss during monsoons. You will also witness water gushing down the stones as you ascend. However, in summers the trail is dry.
Visapur Fort is known for its intricate designs and impressive fortifications but trekkers also enjoy the beautiful scenery the trek has to offer. To top it all the panoramic views of the plains will definitely soothe your eyes.
There are two trekking routes to the hill fort – one starts from Gomukh Khind and the other is from Pathan village. While the first route is a 1.5 kilometre trail which can be completed in 1-1.5 hours, the Pathan village route is longer and confusing and will take about 2 hours to reach Visapur Fort.
This tempting trek is moderate in difficulty, depending on the experience of the trekker. The best time to visit the ancient fort trail is between July and February.
Prabalgad Fort Trek
Also known as Muranjan Fort, the magnificent Prabalgad Fort is situated on a plateau between Matheran and Panvel. It lies at an altitude of 701 metres in the Western Ghats. During the Bahmani Sultanate reign, the fort was built to protect the Panvel Fort and the Kalyan Fort in North Konkan and also served as a watchtower under Shivaji’s rule.
The heritage site offers breathtaking landscapes, especially during monsoons. Trekkers get to witness mist on the mountains, waterfalls of the Konkan area and nearby mountain ranges. The green thickets surrounding Prabalgad Fort are not only worth capturing on your phone but also make you feel closer to nature.
The base stop from where the climb to the fort begins is Prabalmachi, which is also connected to the steep Kalavanti Fort. It takes about 1.5 hours to complete this trek. But that depends on your fitness levels and the time taken for rest.
Prabalgad Fort Trek has received an easy to moderate grade in trekking difficulty so beginners and experienced trekkers can both enjoy hiking the trail. The ideal time to do this historical fort trek is during winters for beginners. Experienced trekkers can visit the Prabalgad Fort during monsoons and summers.
Lohagad Fort Trek
Situated in Pune, the Lohagad Fort is a popular hill fort near Khandala and Lonavala. It is one of the most famous treks in Maharashtra and is also known as Iron Fort. It is guarded by the walls of Visapur Fort which is at most one kilometre away. The fort was an important part during the Maratha reign.
The fortification of the hillfort resembles the tail of a scorpion and is located at the west side of Lohagad Fort. Apart from the lush green surroundings, tourists also get to witness the aerial views of Karla, Bhaja caves and Pawna Lake. Lohagad Fort has an elevation of 1099.7 metres above sea level.
When it comes to trekking to the fort, you will have to first reach the base village Lohagad Wadi. There are four entrances that take you to the fort- Maha Darwaja, Ganesh Darwaja, Hanuman Darwaja and Narayan Darwaja.
Because of the ease and simplicity experienced by trekkers, this trek is ideal for beginners. The total distance of the trek climb is five kilometres which can be covered in two hours from Malavali and 40 minutes from Lohagad Wadi. It is also considered to be one of the best monsoon treks in Maharashtra.
Tikona Fort Trek
Tikona Fort is a dominant hill fort at the top of Tikona peak in Lonavala. Also known as Vitandgad Fort, it is named Tikona because of its famous triangular shape. Many trekkers love summiting this fort in the Sahyadri mountain range especially during weekends. The fort stands at an altitude of 1066.8 metres above sea level.
The majestic fort has huge fortifications and water tanks, along with large doorways. But what trekkers really enjoy are the mesmerising views of the surroundings when you reach the bastian or the topmost place of the Tikona Fort. One can also sight Tung Fort, Pawna dam, Lohagad Fort and Visapur Fort located nearby.
Tikona Fort Trek starts from Tikona Peth, the nearest village. From there, there is a 2 kilometres road which leads to the base of the fort. The trek can be completed in one or two hours. It is an all-season easy trek that will appeal to anyone who enjoys mountain adventures.
Rajmachi Fort Trek
Rajmachi Fort is located at an altitude of 813.8 metres above sea level. Nestled between Lonavala and Karjat, the fort is considered as a protected monument by the government because of its rich history and is one of the best treks in Maharashtra. It houses the twin citadels namely Shrivardhan and Manaranjan Forts.
The fort boasts of complex features – huge ramparts, strong walls, huge gateways, residential units, water reservoirs and administrative centres. But trekkers thoroughly enjoy several waterfalls, streams, dense forests and meadows during rains. And definitely a must-trail if you enjoy stargazing.
Rajmachi Fort can be reached by walk and trek. If you prefer an easy 15 kilometres walk, then take the Lonavala route. It will take about five hours of hiking to reach Udhewadi, the base of Rajmachi Fort by this route.
If you want that adrenaline kick as a seasoned trekker, we suggest the 5 kilometres gradual climb from Karjat. The trek from this path to Rajmachi Fort takes around 3-4 hours from Kondhane Caves in Karjat.
While the fort trek can be enjoyed during multiple seasons, each season has its own reason to trek at the Rajmachi Fort. Do this trek in the peak summer months i.e May and June if you want to witness fireflies. If you prefer a lush green hill kind of scenario, choose monsoons. The autumn colours of the trees and the fresh views can be seen from October to February.
Ratangad Fort Trek
Graded with a difficulty level of medium by trekkers, Ratangad Fort is located at the banks of Bhandardara Lake in Ahmednagar. True to its name, the fort is indeed a jewel surrounded by the beautiful sights of the Kulang, Alang, Kalsubai, Katarabai, Ajoba and Ghanchakkar of the Ajoba mountain range.
At an altitude of 1,297 metres, this magnificent fort is blessed with superb landscapes overlooking the Sahyadri ranges and many iconic tourist attractions. While the trail entails tiny fields and lush forests, Ratangad Fort has a natural rock peak at the cavity called Nedhe or Eye of the Needle. The fort has many wells, two caves, and four gates (Ganesh, Hanuman, Konkan and Trimbak) to offer to its visitors.
It takes about three to four hours to reach the fort from its base village Ratanwadi. The best time to explore Ratangad is during the months of October to December. This undulating trail is meant for both new and seasoned trekkers.
Sudhagad Fort Trek
If you want to have a memorable adventure, then you must visit the ancient Sudhagad Fort. Also known as Bhorapgad, this huge fort is considered to be a replica of Raigad where it is situated. It has a twin fort Sarasgad which stands on an adjacent mountain and can be combined as one-day or a two-day trek.
It is situated at an altitude of 618.7 metres. Right from the trail to the fort, trekkers witness beautiful landscapes along with natural sceneries of the hill fort. You also get a birds-eye view of the surrounding mountain ranges.
It is best explored during the monsoon season till July for the greenery and the gushing sounds of waterfalls. Trekkers can even do the Sudhagad Fort Trek during the winter months to see lush forests and mist. It takes about two hours to traverse the trail from the base Thakurwadi.
With a moderate to high level in trekking difficulty, the trek is more suitable for experienced people who enjoy challenging treks. But even beginners can set this as a benchmark if they want to increase their endurance levels.
Tringalwadi Fort Trek
Located in Igatpuri at an elevation of 914.4 metres, the Tringalwadi Fort comes in the list of popular Maharashtra hiking trails. While its history lacks concrete information, the fort was one of the 17 forts surrendered to the British in 1818 AD.
The fort features ruins of caves and many temples that makes it a popular tourist attraction especially for history buffs. Nature lovers get to witness the panoramic view of Kalsubai and Kulang mountain ranges, apart from the natural scenic beauty of waterfalls and greenery that one can see from the Tringalwadi Fort.
It takes about three hours to traverse the trek route from the base village Tringalwadi which can be covered in 1.5 hours. But again that depends on the trekking capability of the individual. It is also known as one of the best monsoon treks.
Since the climb is easy, the Tringalwadi Fort Trek invites both novices and seasoned trekkers, who want to escape the fast-paced city life and get recharged amid nature.
(Hero and Featured Image Credit: Maharashtra Tourism)
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