Weekend breaks: Five visually appealing treks in Mumbai

Rain-drenched vistas, verdant green rolling hills, swirling mist and walk through the rains – if these are the incentives, then nothing can stop you from hitting the trekking trail. Monsoon is the best time to go on a hike around the city and Mumbai is not short on options. From difficult and technical climbs to easy hikes for the beginners, Maharashtra has a rich trove of treasures.

We list five treks from Mumbai which are high on visual appeal.

Malshej Ghat

It is one of the favourite monsoon destinations for Mumbaikars. Along with Lonavala, Malshej receives a lot of visitors lured by its greenery, waterfalls and fog covered mountains. It is also a favourite with the flamingoes. The Shivneri fort, where the Maratha King Chattrapati Shivaji was born, is just a short distance away.

Lohagad Fort

Located near Lonavala, the twin forts of Lohagad and Visapur guarded the important trade route through the ghats and now overlook the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Lohagad offers panoramic views of the countryside, especially the backwaters of the Pawna dam. You can either hike to the fort through forest and villages (it is an easy trek and takes about two hours) or drive through Lonavala directly to the base of the fort. It takes just about 15 minutes to reach the top after you disembark from the road. Much of the fort is in ruins, result of bombardment during the Anglo-Maratha wars, but what remains speak eloquently of the martial prowess of the bygone era.

Kanheri Caves

If you are looking for a quick break but not in the mood for a long drive, then Kanheri Caves is the best option. Located within Mumbai city inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the caves stand testimony to the grit and determination of humans. The caves were hewn out of the mountainous rock by Buddhist monks during the monsoons, when they were restricted from travelling. The highest point of Kanheri Hills offers panoramic views of the Mumbai city and the national park.

Karnala Fort

Located on the outskirts of Panvel in the satellite city of Navi Mumbai, the trek to the fort is a perfect one-day getaway for trekkers. Located within the Karnala Bird Sanctuary, the hill fort was once used as a watchtower to ensure the safety of trade routes from the coast to deccan regions. The fort is more known for the peculiar rock formation which resembles a thumbs-up sign. From the fort ramparts, you can sight the forts of Prabalgad, Kalavantin, Irshalgad and Malangad.

Vasai Fort

Though not a trek in the strict sense of the term; a trip to Vasai fort involves a good amount of exercise for your legs as the fort is spread over a large area.

It was once the capital of the northern territories of the Portugese during the heydays of the colonialism while Goa served as the capital of the southern territories. Known in the old days as Bassein, the fort was destroyed when it was invaded by the Maratha army. The fort was strategically important and ensured the Portugese ruled the sealanes on the west coast of India. The grand cathedral, the fort ramparts and the citadel, though in ruins, still evoke awe.