If you live in a city like Mumbai where a new skyscraper seems to spring up each time you look out of your window, where the dream of having a Metro some day soon currently increases your daily commute and where the monsoon showers bring a refreshing change from the sweltering summers.
That sweet earthy smell, the tiny droplets on to the window pane leaves, the thundering sound of the rain, and the wind in the hair – everything about the monsoon is love at first sight! Some would like to be cuddled up in a warm blanket, sipping piping hot adrak waali chai and watching the drops fall from their window. While others like me would to get all soaked and muddy out there…especially in the hills all around
We are blessed to have Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a sprawling green forest within the city. In the past I have done many treks and trails from the Borivali gate, namely
- Shilonda trail
- Upper Kanheri Trek
- Nagla Block
But it instead of getting away from the maddening crowd, on a Sunday you may see more people than flora and fauna here. Hence I decided to try the Thane (Yeoor) gate side.
Here are 5 easy getaway treks (in order of ease for beginners) that I did over weekends from July to September as time permitted:
1. SGNP – Yeoor:
I wanted to take my 6 year old daughter Anushka on an outdoor expedition on the weekend so we signed up with Jack & Hill Adventures for The Yeoor Hills Forest Walk. This trek was guided by Wildlife Expert Mr Nikit Surve, who also happens to be the man responsible for Mumbai’s leopard Census conducted in both 2015 & 2019 within the national park. He made it very interesting with his detailed explanation about the wondrous wildlife specifically in the SGNP forest. Anushka was just learning about carnivores and herbivores in school and she had many questions for him.
We drove down in my car and met the others at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Tikuji ni Wadi gate) Thane Entrance at 7 am. After exploring & learning about the surroundings as we had a leisurely walk along the forest path upto Yeoor village and back for about 4 hours. There is also a beautiful butterfly garden that kids will love at the entrance.
2. Mhatarichi Khind:
This is not a hilly high incline trek but a long walk through a valley or pass between the hills (khind). I went with my all time favorite outdoor group Countryside India. They have may monsoon weekend treks you can choose from and I have been going with them since college. Great way to meet like-minded nature loving people.
They arrange for a bus that leaves from Dadar at 6 am, via Panvel to the the foot of Matheran, at village Dhodani. From here we walked through the valley between Prabalgad fort & Matheran, crisscrossing through villages, forests, and waterfalls and rivulets. Our trek ended at Ambewadi, beneath One-Tree hill point, on the Chowk side of Morbe dam. Simply the best was to enjoy the rain in your raincoat and get all the Vitamin G your eyes can ! Its a great way to introduce kids to the outdoors, 8 years and above. This one was with few work colleagues and the rest strangers, fun nevertheless.
3. Ganpati Gadad Caves and Waterfall Trek:
Jump out of that comfort zone and do the unexpected! This time I went with a completely new trekking group that I found on facebook and to a destination I had never heard of before. M3 Yatrikis a young and enthusiastic trekking group and I had was very happy to have joined them on this trek.
Taking a local train from Dadar to Kalyan we went by a vehicle to the base village is called Palu, Sonawale near Murbad. We had a very tasty breakfast in a local villagers house watching the dense clouds engulf the hills beyond, hiding the caves completely. A valley full of flowers welcomed us ascended towards the caves.
Ganpati Gadad Caves is a series of 6 to 7 caves which are exceptionally beautiful during monsoon as many small waterfalls fall over them forming enchanting white veils. The path is gradual and the rocks are big, with easy stepping stones. Only at the top the path along cliff is a bit perilous, hence its always good to go with a group where everyone offer a helping hand.
The view from the top is totally breathtaking and just sitting in the serenity, with only the sound of the waterfall in the background is very soothing to the soul.
4. Sondai fort:
I have some friends who are regular trekkers so this was an easy one for them. The incline is very steep and the rocks can be dangerous and slippery, especially if there is rainfall so it makes it a bit challenging for the beginners.
We drove to the base village Sondewadi, near Karjat which is situated at 1/4th height of this fort and then started climbing the rest of the way. Its better to reach early as many groups come later in the day on weekends.The last part has a set of metal steps to climb till the watch tower.
We were completely embraced by the clouds and The views from the top of the Morbe reservoir
5. Sunset point, Matheran:
Although I’ve graded this the last in terms of intensity and duration as well, its was the most enjoyable of all as I went with my new found friends: the yoga girl gang of Chaitanya towers and also because the destination was a surprise for us.