The Western Ghats that divide the coastal city of Mumbai from the cultural capital of Pune are a trekker’s dream. You can find all kinds of treks in these hills, from forest trails to rock-cut stairs that lead to centuries-old forts. These trekking trails make for great weekend getaways from Mumbai and Pune in all seasons. And while scaling up these hills and forts is a wonderful experience during the daytime, night treks near the cities have their own unique appeal. The atmosphere is different, and so are the risks and payoff. Arguably more thrilling than a regular daytime trek, these night treks are fast becoming popular options for city dwellers to escape their usual lives. Here is a look at some of the more popular night treks near Mumbai and Pune. ALSO READ: 5 easy summer treks in Maharashtra for those who dont mind the heat
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Lying in the popular Malshej Ghats at an altitude of 4,500 feet above sea level, Harischandragad Fort is actually one of the tallest forts in Maharashtra, which is no small feat. The state is littered with forts, but Harischandragad stands out among the rest for its altitude and intimidating climb. The trek to this fort is of a moderate to difficult grade during the day, but the nighttime trail is actually easier. There are several ways up, but the usual route starts from Panchnai or Kireshwar and takes up to eight hours. It is still challenging with plenty of steep slopes and rocky patches. But along the way, you get incredible views of the Konkan Ghats, especially from the Konkan Kada. Catch a train from either city to Kasara Railway Station, from which you can head to the base village. But this trek is best done in a pre-planned group. Also Read - Real Kashmir Announce Partnership With Oxford United Football Club, Sign Arsenal Youth Defender Kashif Siddiqui
Kalsubai Peak from the back, Photograph Courtesy: Ankur P/Creative Commons
The highest peak in Maharashtra, Kalsubai lies around 5,400 feet above sea level and the trek to the top is breathtaking, to say the least. The night trek to this peak is even more amazing. Walk through the lush forests and watch the sun rise at the summit as clouds blanket the surrounding hills. The trek is challenging for sure, but you get incredible views of several ranges from here, including the Ratangad, Madangad and Alang ranges. You also see Ghanchakkar, Pabhargad and Harishchandragad from the top. The trek here starts from Bari village, which you can reach from Kasara station, like with the Harishchandragad trek. Similarly, this is a trek best done through an organizer. ALSO READ: Trekking in Sahyadris: Where nature and adventure go hand in hand
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Rajmachi Fort in the monsoon
Rajmachi near the hill station of Lonavala has two forts lying on two peaks. The trek to the Shrivardhan and Manaranjan forts makes for an interesting experience in the cover of night. The trek is especially popular during the monsoons, when the region comes alive in vivid green and several waterfalls descend down the slops. The forts are popular nighttime destinations for the starstruck, since the night sky is generally clear of dust and clouds in most seasons. Karjat makes for the easiest route to Rajmachi, taking around five hours. From Lonavala, it takes two more hours to reach the forts at the top. Though there are a few rocky patches en route, the trekking trail is generally friendly to newbies and forgivable. And the view from here makes Rajmachi worthwhile even for the seasoned trekker.
The trek to Sinhagad Fort from Katraj Ghats, which is also called the Old Tunnel, is popularly known as K2S (Katraj to Sinhagad). The K2S route is actually a very popular one from Pune, covering 16 kilometers that take you through the range of hills. The trek is pretty long and difficult, but at night you get to walk under the cover of stars, reaching the fort from which you get an incredible view of the sun rise over the valleys and hills. You also get a great view of the Khadakvasla dam from here. Suited for the more active trekker, this is something that you can do with your usual group. Along the way, you get to see the massive Bini Darawaja entrance to the fort and the picturesque Zunzar Machi.
Prabalgad and Kalvantin
Prabalgad, Photograph courtesy: Avinash Bhanu/Creative Commons
Lying a little off Panvel on the Mumbai-Pune Road, Kalavantin Durg is a fort that adjoins Prabalgad, one of the largest forts in the Sahyadri range. In fact, Prabalgad is even larger than Harischandragad, and both these forts can be visited in a single trek over the weekend. From Kalavantin, you get commanding views of the Prabalgad as well as other features, including Manikgad, Karnala, Chanderi and Matheran. The trek starts from Thakurwadi village and takes around three hours to complete. The route takes you through rock-cut stairs to traverse the steep slope. Prabalgad, meanwhile, is massive in scale with two caves to explore and several view points, including sunset point and echo point. NOW READ: Fantastic fireflies and where to find them in Maharashtra
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