6 must-do treks in Maharashtra for beginners

If you live in Maharashtra and are looking for something interesting to do on the weekend, there is nothing better than to head to the Western Ghats for a trek. Not only are they accessible, they also provide some adventure and fresh air in the midst of the chaos of urban life. I have tried to put together a list of treks you can start with, if you are a beginner. I have purposely left out some of the more ‘famous’ treks (like Kalsubai, Kalavantin, Harihar), and tried to find a mix of different types of terrain, and regions. While these are just a few names, there is plenty more to explore if you find yourself asking for more!

Garbett Point

Most Mumbaikars have visited the famous hill station of Matheran at some point in their life. How about trekking up to Matheran through a different route? Starting from Bhivpuri station, a picturesque trail goes around a lake, through a tiny hamlet and finally culminates on the massive Garbett plateau. A short climb from the plateau takes you to Garbett Point, and you are officially in Matheran! From here, walk in the beautiful, misty forests till you reach the ubiquitous train tracks of Matheran.

  • Difficulty level: Easy

  • Best time to visit: All year around, but best in June-September

  • Base Village: Diksal


Walking up to Garbett Point, with the Garbett plateau in the backdrop.

Kothaligad

Ahead of Karjat is a fort that is perfect for first-timers, Kothaligad. The fort is well known for its unique funnel-shaped top. In fact, the way to the top is accessed through a hidden set of stairs, which is the most exciting part of the trail. The first house in the base village, Jambrung, also serves a mean chicken thali!

  • Difficulty level: Easy-Moderate

  • Best time to visit: All year around, but best in June-September

  • Base Village: Jambrung

On top of Kothaligad

Kenjalgad

Beyond Pune and before Mahabaleshwar, lies the region of Bhor. There are many famous peaks in this area, but the one that gets my vote is KenjalgadIt is perfect to sit and enjoy a cup of tea while watching views of a nearby lake and the surrounding mountains. The trek itself isn’t too long, but the beauty of this fort makes up for it.

  • Difficulty level: Easy

  • Best time to visit: All year around, but best in August-October

  • Base Village: Korle

The view from Kenjalgad

Karnala

My all-time favourite trek, Karnala is protected as a bird sanctuary. Entry to the area requires you to pay an entry fee, and there is a strict ‘no-littering’ policy that makes this fort a clean and safe haven. The trail itself is very pretty, and not very difficult, with plenty of rest stops along the way. It is almost a home away from home for me! Get to the fort early in the morning (it opens at 7 am), to avoid the crowds!

  • Difficulty level: East

  • Best time to visit: All year around, but best in June-September

  • Base Village: Karnala

Enroute Karnala Fort

Asawa

The Palghar region is home to very accessible and beginner-friendly treks. If I had to pick one, it would be Asawa fort. The fort is accessible through 2 routes, both starting from Warangade village near Boisar. The top has a few water reservoirs, one of which has its own staircase! But, the main attraction is a huge natural cave.

  • Difficulty level: Easy

  • Best time to visit: All year around, but best in June-September

  • Base Village: Warangade

Exploring the cave on Asawa fort

Kavnai

Near Igatpuri lies a sleepy village and a fort, both named Kavnai. Kavnai fort is a perfect beginner’s trek, with a short but exciting trail, and beautiful views. The original rock steps to the fort were destroyed by the British, and now an iron ladder takes us to the top. The top is quite vast, and has a temple and a mini lake!

  • Difficulty level: Easy

  • Best time to visit: All year around, but best in June-September

  • Base Village: Kavnai

Climbing the ladder at Kavnai

GIRL ON THE MOUNTAINS

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