There’s nothing better on a rainy Sunday than to hit the hills and wander off into the mist. Apart from the more popular Rajmachi and Kalsubai treks, here are hikes that are just a couple of hours drive from Mumbai, and have spectacular structures that have us scrambling all over.

Korigad Fort

Photo: Apoorv Gawde

Photo: Apoorv Gawde

We use this fort to warm up our hiking muscles. The route up has steps, so we’re tricked into thinking we’re just going for a walk. Next thing we know is the incline is getting steeper and steeper, and we’re huffing the last 100 steps.

There are still remnants of the fort on the way up, so we find ourselves standing under ancient stone arches, trotting up steps that royalty used at one time {possibly!}.

View From The Top

The top of Korigad fort is a sprawling flat table, stretching out forever around us. At the top, the structure is surprisingly well-preserved, with the ramparts, the water cisterns, temples and some ruins of other spaces making it great to explore. It’s a good two kilometre walk around the ramparts of the top, with fabulous views of the valleys around, so save some energy for that.

Getting There
From Mumbai, drive out towards Lonavla. Set your GPS for Peth Shahpur village {this is the start point of the trek} near Amby Valley. It should take you about two hours to get there in a car. You can park your car at the village and head out from there.

Trekking Time
An hour to get to the top, one hour to explore the top, and an hour to descend.

 

Asherigad Fort

Photo courtesy: The Great Next

Photo courtesy: The Great Next

We head out to Palghar to conquer this fort. We walk past emerald-green paddy fields at the start point, past a charming village with small houses and cows staring at us. The lower section of the trek is through thickly wooded slopes, with swollen streams just waiting to soak our shoes.

View From The Top
As we get to the top, there are fewer trees, giving us great views of the landscape all around. The earth gives way to the rocky top of the fort, giving us some very tricky patches to negotiate. To get to the summit, we have to climb up a creaking ladder while strong winds whistle through, pushing us backwards and chilling us to the bones. The top is a wide expanse of trees and open space with plenty of cisterns, caves, small temples and ledges to explore.

Getting There
Drive out to Palghar, Thane. It’s not easy to find the turn for Asherigad, but ask locals for Khodkona bus stop. There’s a small concrete cabin/bus stop to mark your turn-off, which should appear about a kilometer after the Indian Oil petrol pump. The village is a short drive away from the NH8 after the turn-off. You can park your car here and start your trek.

Trekking Time
Two hours to ascend, an hour hour at the top, and one hour to descend.

 

Tandulwadi

Photo courtesy: The Great Next

Photo courtesy: The Great Next

By the time the rains have taken over, this trek turns into a complete adventure. This fort is notorious for causing trekkers to get lost en route to the top. There are so many trees that we can barely see ten feet ahead of us, and the markings painted onto stones are usually washed off in the first rain. But it’s an unforgettable experience.

View From The Top
As we walk over the ridge, the rain clouds drift in and are pierced by the pinnacle, causing rain to pour down. Wel see the confluence of two rivers from the top once the mist clears. There are rocky sections that will require us to crawl and climb (and slide about quite a bit). All in all, this is a superb trek for those willing to get muddy.

Getting There
Drive along the NH8 towards Thane for about 100 kms, until you get to Varai Phata. Turn left towards Tandulwadi Village, and stop near the Tandulwadi school. You can park here and begin your trek.

Trekking Time
Two hours to ascend, one hour at the top, and one hour to descend.

 

Tikona Fort

Photo: Deepak Gopalakrishnan

Photo: Deepak Gopalakrishnan

This craggy triangular fort gives us a great trekking experience because of the sloping sides. There are some sections that are pretty steep, and you’ll have to lower your body to stay close to the surface.

View From The Top
It yields beautiful views of Pavna Lake, and other forts in the area, with the Visapur and Lohagad, the twin forts being the highlight. The entire fort is covered in thick greenery, and the air is cool and fresh all around.

Getting There
Drive along the Mumbai-Pune expressway and take the Karla exit towards Kamshet. From Kamshet, you’ll need to turn towards Pawna Nagar and drive about 7-8 kms to Tikona Peth. This is your start point.

Trekking Time
Two hours to ascend, one hour at the top, and one hour to descend.

 

Takmak Fort

Photo courtesy: The Great Next

Photo courtesy: The Great Next

Takmak fort could easily be our favourite trek this monsoon. It has a beautifully undulating shape, offering up rocky swells and ridges, long outcrops of rock that jut out, giving us a ramp with 360-degree views all around.
In the monsoon, all these land features are covered in thick grass and moss, making our trek that much more challenging but that much more beautiful.

View From The Top
At the top, there are beautiful small temples as well as cisterns filled with deep green water. From the top, we can see the confluence of Tansa and Vaitarna, as well as the sea in the distance, on a clear day.

Getting There
Drive along the NH8 to Virar and take the exit on the right, about 10 kms after the Virar exit. From here, head on for 20 kms to Sakwar village, which is your start point.

Trekking Time
Two hours to ascend, one hour at the top, and another hour to descend.

 

For all treks

What to take: Raincoat, snacks, two bottles of water per person, insect repellent, a basic first-aid kit and a change of clothes.

What to wear: Trekking pants or leggings, a quick-dry tee with long sleeves if possible and sports shoes

Expert tips

If we’re not sure about finding our way, we usually ask a local from the base village to send someone as a guide for a minimal charge. Be warned: it’s not as easy as it looks from the bottom.

We take an insect repellent along, and keep reapplying it. With all that greenery, there are patches {especially in the foothills where the trees are taller} where it feels like the mosquitoes have been waiting for us to arrive.