Ebony-hued skies, pitter-patter of raindrops, cool breeze and blissful smell of wet mud – Monsoon gives us a feeling as if the heaven has descended to earth. At such a time, forts in Maharashtra and their surroundings literally come alive with lush green flora criss-crossed with waterfalls.
This ancient hill fortress, situated near Mahad in Raigad district, is surrounded by the scenic Sahyadri mountain ranges. Described as ‘The Gibraltar of the East’ by European historians, this citadel is witness to milestone moments in the life of Shivaji Maharaj. Take the route via Tamhini Ghat-Pachad village to reach this fort, which is blessed with nature’s bounty during monsoon.
A train coming out of the Khandala Tunnel makes a pretty sight. The construction of the tunnel was a herculean job as it had to be bored through the extrusive volcanic igneous basalt rock. Sandwiched between the cities of Mumbai and Pune, Khandala in the Western Ghats is bestowed with grassy hills, glittering lakes and meandering waterfalls, the beauty of which is enhanced during the rainy season.
Located close to Lonavala hill station near Pune, Lohagad is carpeted with wet moss during rains. The trek to this fort is simple and can be covered in about two hours. In monsoon, a variety of birds and insects can be spotted in these hills. By taking a small diversion you can pay a visit to Bhaja caves.
This huge historic fort near Pune was the capital of the Maratha Empire for 26 years due to its strategic location. Significant for trekkers in monsoon, it provides a moderately challenging trekking experience and one can climb the fort from various routes that originate from villages at the base. While Chor Darwaza is the most tough route, Pali Darwaza is the easier way. Lake Padmavati here is brimming with fresh water during rains.
A drive in the mountain passage of Tamhini Ghat, situated beyond the Mulshi Dam near Pune, is a memorable experience during rains. There are waterfalls and streams of all sizes and shapes cascading down the hills, which is a soothing sight for eyes. The ghat that stretches over 15 km is popular for its dense foliage.
A wild bark mushroom, which is a monsoon speciality, in the forests of Naneghat. During the reign of the Satavahana (200 BCE–190 CE), this mountain pass in the Western Ghats was extensively used as a trade route between Kalyan and Junnar. The path, made completely of basalt rock, is uneven with 2-3 foot high climbs.
A small Masjid on top of the Lohagad fort. This Iron Fort was ruled by several dynasties, including the Nizams and Mughals, at different periods of time. The fortress was primarily used for keeping treasury by Shivaji Maharaj.
Spider cobwebs are a common sight during monsoon in this redlaterite paved green haven where you can either walk or ride a horse but cannot use a vehicle. The hill station’s proximity to Mumbai makes it a hotspot during monsoon.
This is the largest of six cannons on Korigad Fort and is called the Laxmi Toph. The fort, located near Lonavala, can be accessed by a simple trek. Surrounded by valleys of green, Lonavala is a hill station that sees a peak in tourism during rains. It has several sightseeing options including other forts, lakes and caves.
Photos: Amit Kulkarni