sahyadris

 

This region comprises the stretch of the Sahyadris from Harishchandragad in the north to Bhimashankar in the south. There are three passes for motor vehicles travelling from Mumbai to the Deccan plateau. These are the Thal Ghat in the north (from Kasara to Igatpuri), the Malshej Ghat in the middle (from Thitbi to Khubi) and the Bhor Ghat in the south (from Karjat to Khandala, or Khopoli to Khandala). Trains also ply along the Thal and the Bhor Ghat but not along the Malshej Ghat. Hence this region is rather remote. The only way of travelling to this region is by bus from Kalyan, via Murbad. The Kasara local leaving Mumbai CST at 4am reaches Kalyan at 5:40am. At 5:55am there is a bus from Kalyan crossing the Malshej Ghat (usually going to places like Shiroor, Alephata, and Nagar). It takes 45 minutes to reach Murbad, 80 minutes to reach Tokawada where there is a 10 minute halt and 2 and a half hours to reach Khubiphata Khireshwar. Murbad is 30km, Tokawada is 55km and Khubiphata is 91km from Kalyan. Nowadays, till about 9:00pm buses are available from Khubiphata towards Murbad and Kalyan, once every 20 to 30 minutes. One also gets jeeps going towards Tokawada and Murbad till about 8:00pm from Khubiphata area.
A trek in the Malshej Ghat region offers a unique feeling of remoteness and wildness, maybe because this region is less frequented by trekkers. All along the Konkan, the average drop in these mountains is about 900m, and the drops are rather steep. Amazing views can be got from the top of the mountains, of both the Konkan plains, as well as nearby and distant peaks and valleys. But because of less frequent transport connections, one should be careful about the first and last bus.

Nane Ghat Area

This area comprises the valley of the Kukdi river. The Kukdi river runs along an east-west direction, and parallel to it, is a east-west branch of the Sahyadris. This range rises entirely from the Deccan plateau, which is at an average height of 750m here. The Narayangaon plateau is a part of this range, and it overlooks the Kukdi river and lake. The main range of the Sahyadri runs to the west of the Kukdi lake, in a north south direction. In the main range, lies the pass of Nane Ghat which climbs gently from the Konkan to the Deccan plateau at a height of 775m. From the pass a jeep track on the plateau leads to Ghatgar village (5km from Nane Ghat by kuccha track), Kukdi lake and finally to Junnar. Junnar is connected by bus to Pune and Kalyan. Peaks here can thus be approached from the Junnar-Ghatgar road, but it is much more fun to climb from the Konkan via Nane Ghat and then approach these peaks. For a trek to this region, one should take the 5:55am bus from Kalyan mentioned above, and either get down at Tokawada and walk to the 60km stone from Kalyan (5km walk), or take a jeep going to Vaishakhare (3km from Tokawada, and walk the last 2km), or request the bus driver politely to halt for Nane Ghat (bus drivers these days know where to halt for Nane Ghat, and usually agree to such requests). At any rate, one should reach the 60km stone from Kalyan and next to it, one can see a track going eastwards into the fields, towards the Ghat. This track is the one which finally leads to Nane Ghat pass.

Nane Ghat

This is a gentle pass which leads from the Malshej Ghat road at the 60km stone from Kalyan to the Deccan plateau. It is a broad route, with large stone slabs in the higher parts which aid in climbing!

Naneghat

It is a 6km walk from the road to the pass, which is 775m high. The route starts from the 60km stone, and traverses across some fields for about 3km crossing dry streams thrice on the way. It then climbs gently to a small plateau from where one gets good views of the twin cliffs of Nane Ghat, and Jivdhan. The pass is located between two cliffs which are very noticeable from far away in the Konkan. From the plateau, the route starts climbing gently through a forest and soon, the stone slabs appear, which aid in climbing, but which can be slippery in the monsoon for the uninitiated. Now the route directly leads one to the pass. A little before reaching the pass, one passes next to the base of the lower cliff called Nanacha Aangthaa. The actual pass looks like a narrow gorge, and a cool breeze is always blowing here because of the tunnel effect. There is a beautiful cave at the mouth of the pass. Proceeding ahead from the cave, one suddenly sees fields ahead, instead of the rock slabs on which one is climbing. This is the Deccan plateau, 775m high. From here one can see the jeep track to Ghatgar village. It takes about two hours to reach the pass from the road.
This pass was an important trading route since the first century BC. One can see a water cistern on the Deccan plateau near the mouth of the pass dating to that age. Also, the cave has one wall with writings in the Brahmi script. It is sad that the other walls have been defaced with more modern scripts indicating who visited there and who loves whom. The cave is big, dry and can accomodate a large group of people. Thus, it is a good place to spend the night (but it can be a bit cold in the night because of the constant breeze in the pass). There are water tanks with reasonably clean water next to the cave. One can see other small tanks and incomplete caves nearby, indicating that this was a popular halt on a trade route.
From the Deccan plateau, one can easily climb both of the twin peaks. The lower one is very near, and can be climbed in 20min from the plateau. The higher one is farther away, and it takes about 45 min. to reach its top. The route to the higher cliff passes below an electric power line. Both the cliffs have vertical drops almost all the way to Konkan. The lower one of the twin cliffs is 830m high and the higher one is 875m high. The cliffs jut out from the line of the ghats and hence command a magnificent view of the great bend in the Sahyadris from Bhimashankar to Harishchandragad. A lot of peaks like Harishchandragad, Napta, Jivdhan, Bagheria, Bhairavgad, Dhakoba, Siddhagad, Bhimashankar, Matheran, Haji Malang, Chanderi and Mahuli can be seen. The Konkan on the west and the Deccan plateau on the east present a grand sight. One can see the Kalyan-Malshej Ghat road in the distance, and sometimes even hear the horns of the vehicles! Overall, there is a feeling of remoteness standing on the cliffs and contemplating the panorama.

Jivdhan

This is a mighty fort 1145m high situated just south of the Nane Ghat pass. It is one of the best one day treks from Mumbai (first climbing Nane Ghat from Konkan, and then climbing Jivdhan) and gives a flavour of route finding, rock climbing etc. without any exposure. It commands a good view of the southern Malshej Ghat region and also the Konkan plains and the Deccan plateau. There are two routes to climb Jivdhan from the Deccan plateau, one from Ghatgar village (the usual route) and one from the Nane Ghat pass side (the “secret” route).

Jivdhan

There are two ways to climb Jivdhan. The Chor darwaza and the Ghatghar route. Both are interesting routes, but the Ghatghar route has one hour of additional walking on the plateau which can be very painful especially if you are returning this way. There are very impressive views of the Ahupe/Dhakoba region, and also Varlya (of Naneghat). Bhairavgad, and Harishchandragad are also seen. The entire hike is quite long but quite pleasant and worthwhile.

Chor Darwaza

This is an impressive route which traverses the face of the mountain, and climbs up the huge crack visible from Naneghat (marked by an arrow in the photo on the pictures page). One small non-exposed rock patch.
From the top of Naneghat, walk straight towards the pinnacle of Jivdhan. Along the way, there are occasional arrows on the rocks to help you along. Near the base of Jivdhan, there are bamboo thickets (see the photograph) which are penetrated at one point (pretty much in front of you) by a faint trail. In the jungle further on, the trail becomes better, and climbs to pretty much the base of the pinnacle at which point there are rock-hewn steps which traverse the mountain to the crack. This part is very mildly exposed. In the crack (no exposure here at all) there is one small rock patch which needs to be climbed (not difficult). The route exits on the top of the mountain through a hole in the ground which was a doorway. This hole can be found on the top ( in case you choose to descend this way) by walking around the side closest to Naneghat.
Total time from Naneghat: about two and a half hours.

Ghatghar route

This fairly interesting route is longer than the other and involves walking upto Ghatghar village (one hour) on the plateau. As such it is better if you ascend Jivdhan this way and descend via the other route. From ghatghar village continue walking along the side of the mountain till you are pretty much below the steps descending from the top (these are visible from the ground). At this point you must head into the jungle towards the steps pretty much straight. The trail is quite visible but not well marked although there are the occasional arrows. At the top one meets steps coming down from the gateway by another crack.
There is no cover on the top, but there are two water tanks, with good drinking water (after you chlorinate them, I guess). The best place for resting is one of the two gateways — the Cave with ashes is terribly dirty.

Dhakoba

This is a huge mountain, the tallest in this range with a sheer rock face and a distinctive flat top. The route up is via the Amboli ghat, and is a steep climb which can be pretty strenuous in the wrong weather. There are excellent views from the top of the surrounding mountains. This trek is an exhausting long one day trek, but one can find a place to stay in Amboli village. There are also routes from Junnar via Amboli to the top of Dhakoba.

Dhakoba

Dhakoba is the tallest mountain in this part of the Sahyadris. At 1264m, its huge size and flat top are quite distinctive, and provides one full long tiring but in the end, excellent day’s worth of trekking.

From Kalyan, via Murbad you reach Dhasai by taking a jeep or a bus. From Dhasai, take a jeep to a village called Palu ( written Pale in HK’s book) about 6-7 km away. At Palu follow the road onward till you reach another village, and follow the prominent trail out of this village from the left, heading towards Dhakoba/Amboli Ghat.

This trail always keeps close to the edge of a nala, and in the beginning appears to head straight to the rock face of Dhakoba, but once in the jungle steers towards Amboli ghat. This part of the trip is about an hour long, maybe more.

The climb in the latter part is through the nala, and is pretty steep. In fact the entire hike from once you are out of the village to the top of Dhakoba is quite steep and pretty strenuous. This part of the trek is about two to two and a half hours long.

Once you reach the khind, where there is a sort of a “temple”, not the one mentioned in HK, the scramble to the top is immediately to the right, and is a little exposed at the beginning. This route to the top sticks close to the edge of a ridge and climbs up through thick vegetation which includes a whole lot of POISON IVY ( can be a very terrible nuisance). This takes an hour almost.

From the top of this ridge, you should continue to the actual top which is still further away. Maybe a further hour or more. Remember that, the route back to the khind is unique, in the sense that if you lose your way, you will quickly run up against a rock face.

You will require a good deal of water, and in the latter part there is no water to be found.Before you start climbing the nala, there is a stream which provides good water for drinking as well as a nice place to have a bath. Mosquitoes are present. You get terrific views of Jivdhan, Naneghat. And Durga Killa, Siddhagad, Damdamia, Gorakhgad and Machindra are all clearly visible.

Siddhagad Area

This area constitutes the southern reaches of the Malshej Ghat region. Siddhagad, Gorakhgad and Machindra are three peaks close to each other, and they are detached from the main range of the Sahyadri. Because of this, they command some unique views of the near vertical wall of the main range (average height 900m) of the Sahyadri. The main range of the Sahyadri comes from Bhimashankar (put in Karjat region because of easy accessibility from Karjat) in the south, and continues via Ghonemal and Damdamia and then proceeds north towards Ahupe Ghat. Gorakhgad and Siddhagad are popular trekking spots, but the others are not yet so. Nevertheless, some great (and long!) one day treks are possible in this region, and especially in the monsoon, this region has many waterfalls, gushing mountain streams etc. Also, a trek to the main range (Damdamia area) offers many spectacular views of narrow gorges, and in the monsoon, the gorges become waterfalls!
For a trek to this area, one should reach Murbad by bus from Kalyan. The best thing would be to take the 5:55am bus mentioned above, but later buses can also be taken since there are many buses to Murbad, and it is not very far from Kalyan. The 5:55am bus reaches Murbad by 6:35am. At 7:05am, there is a bus from Murbad which goes to Dhasai via Mhasa. It passes thru Nariwali (for Siddhagad and Damdamia), Dehri (for Gorakhgad and Machindra) and Khopiwali (for Ahupe Ghat). It takes about 30min. to reach Nariwali and about 45min. to reach Dehri and Khopiwali. It takes about one hour to reach Dhasai (read more about Dhasai in the description of the Dhakoba area). Note that if one is going to Nariwali, the next bus is almost two hours later, but these days one can find jeeps at Murbad travelling to Dehri on this route. While travelling on this route, one can get great views of Siddhagad and the other mountains in this area.

Siddhagad

Siddhagad is a mountain 982m high, detached from the main range of the Sahyadri. Behind it, lies Damdamia on the main range. The top offers good views of the Konkan, and Gorakhgad-Machindra, but the view towards the Deccan plateau is blocked by Damdamia, which is slightly higher. The shape of this mountain is very interesting. Imagine a big cylinder of rock, 600m high. On top of this, place a triangular prism, with the height of its triangular cross section 350m, on one of its rectangular faces. Make the top edge of the prism slightly non-horizontal. This is a good approximation of the shape of Siddhagad. Because of this shape, one can get to see Siddhagad looking vastly different from different places in the Konkan. Even while travelling from Murbad to Nariwali, one can see the shape of Siddhagad changing, depending on one’s location.

Siddhagad

Siddhagad is one of the best one day treks. After getting down at Nariwali, walk towards the mountains. Initially the route goes through some fields, and so it can be ill-defined. But there are wadis on the way, so one can keep ascertaining the direction. A general rule of thumb is to keep moving to the left, aiming towards a small pinnacle between Siddhagad and Damdamia. On this route, at times, one feels as if one is going too much towards Gorakhgad, but it is not so! After walking for 30min., the route slowly starts climbing upwards. Just when the route starts climbing, there are a few huts, so one can again ascertain the direction. The route is quite broad and climbs gently through a forest. At some distance up, there is a big well. The route reaches a plateau at a height of 600m. One can see parts of a fort wall at the edge of the plateau, and a doorway in the wall. After going through the doorway, in about 15min. walk, one reaches the beautiful village of Siddhagadwadi. Totally, it takes two hours to reach Siddhagadwadi from Nariwali. The villagers of Siddhagadwadi frequent this route to Nariwali a lot, and one can sometimes get to meet them on the route. Up to Siddhagadwadi, the trek is gentle and pleasant. But from Siddhagadwadi to the top of Siddhagad is steep and exposed in many parts. One has to climb along rock cut steps, and the exposure keeps increasing as one gets higher. Hence it should not be attempted by absolute beginners. But actually, the route is safe and can be done even in the monsoon (actually it might be a better idea to do it in the monsoon because one cannot see the exposure then!). There is a cave on this route, where a Sadhu baba stays, about 100m higher from the village. Up to this cave, the route is easy. One should ask a villager of Siddhagadwadi to point out the exact start of the route, or else one can get stuck. But soon beyond the Sadhu baba cave, there is another small cave, and after that the rock cut steps appear and the exposure starts. The deceptive thing about Siddhagad is that as the exposure increases gradually, a person might actually go up some distance without realising it before acrophobia gets in and then he can neither go up, nor come down. Very near the top, the gradient eases out, but there is scree on this section, and so coming down on this stretch, one has to be careful. The top is narrow, and one end is higher than the other. There are two water tanks at the top, but they are too deep to take water from. Hence its best to fill water at the Siddhagadwadi village. It takes about an hour and a half to reach the top from Siddhagadwadi. The descent is along the same route, and one should be very careful in the exposed stretches.

Gorakhgad

Gorakhgad is a hill 652m high, near Ahupe Ghat. It is connected to Machindra by a common col. This is a short and easy trek, but fun in the monsoons.

Gorakhgad

After getting down at Dehri, there is a short walk eastwards towards the mountains, after which the route starts climbing. The route is well defined, and Gorakhgad is probably the most popular trek in this region. In fact, the bus conductor, on seeing people with rucksacks, assumes by default that one is going to Dehri and Gorakhgad! The route leads to the base of a cylindrical rock face. There is a cave here with a water tank. To reach the top, there are rock cut steps on this rock face. An easy ladder-like climb on these steps leads one to the top. The top offers great views of Machindra, Konkan plains, Sidhhagad and the Ahupe Ghat. Since the main wall of the Sahyadri is about 900m high here, and quite vertical, with narrow gorges running down, the view of the wall of the Sahydris is like a balcony seat in a theatre, and very thrilling. It takes about 2 hours to reach the top from Dehri. One can either do a relaxed one day trek to Gorakhgad, in a large group, or climb up and down quickly and proceed towards Ahupe Ghat for a strenous one day trek. There is no connection to Ahupe Ghat, and one will have to descend totally to Konkan to proceed to Ahupe.Ahupe Ghat

Ahupe Ghat is a pass leading from Khopiwali in the Konkan, to Ahupe village in the Ghats. Ahupe village is at a height of about 850m. This is a pleasant one day hike especially in the monsoons, with rather dramatic views from the top. The Ghat drops vertically to the Konkan all around Ahupe, and there are many narrow gorges, with breathtaking drops. In the monsoons, the there are waterfalls all around and gushing streams in the gorges. In fact, the route from Khopiwali to Ahupe, near its upper reaches, is very narrow, and almost a gorge. It passes next to a stream, keeps intersecting it many times. Ahupe village is very picturesque, with a lake and an irrigation system. It looks like a remote hamlet because on one side, is the steep drop to the Konkan, and on the remaining three sides, there is a mountain range enclosing it, cutting it off from the Deccan plateau proper. Thus to go from Ahupe to the Deccan plateau proper, one has to cross these hills which are about 200m higher than Ahupe. The route is nala-like for most stretches, and climbs up steeply. It can be a little slippery during the monsoons for the uninitiated.
Khopiwali can be reached from Murbad via Mhasa, as described above. Another possiblity (esp. in the evening, if one is slightly late) is to take jeeps going towards Dhasai, which is well connected by jeeps to Murbad, till 8pm. The Khopiwali-Ahupe route is nala-like for most stretches, and can be somewhat steep and a little slippery during the monsoon for the uninitiated.

Ahupe

From Khopiwali head out south towards a group of clefts in the wall of the Sahyadri (Ahupe ghat is unusual because this is a north-south pass, instead of west-east passes like most other Sahyadri passes). From the Khopiwali bus stop, the wall looks vertical, with a group of clefts, and it is impossible to make out which one of this clefts is the Ahupe Ghat (from a distance, all of them look unclimbable). But behind the Khopiwali village, there is a route going south, which crosses a river behind the village. This route soon starts rising, and leads up a nala (the left most amongs the clefts). A useful rule is to head left, when in doubt (while going up, of course). One should also ascertain the route and the direction at the beginning from the villagers of Khopiwali. But once you cross the river behind Khopiwali, and start climbing up the nala-like cleft, the path is very well defined. In fact, this is the only cleft which is climbable, the others soon get vertical. There is some water available en route, in monsoons ( you are going up a nala and there is clean flowing water) although in other seasons there may not be much. Further, there are mosquitoes in the monsoons. It takes about two hours to climb to Ahupe from Khopiwali. The route is nala-like for most stretches, and climbs up steeply. It can be a little slippery during the monsoons for the uninitiated. Khopiwali can be reached from Murbad via Mhasa, as described above. Another possiblity (esp. in the evening, if one is slightly late) is to take jeeps going towards Dhasai, which is well connected by jeeps to Murbad, till 8pm. The Khopiwali-Ahupe route is nala-like for most stretches, and can be somewhat steep and a little slippery during the monsoon for the uninitiated

Damdamia

Damdamia is a hill 1008m high on the main range of the Sahyadri. It is next to Siddhagad and commands good views of the Deccan plateau. The view towards the Konkan is mostly blocked by Siddhagad.

Damdamia

To trek to Damdamia, one should reach the plateau of Siddhagadwadi (see description of Siddhagad). But instead of entering the doorway (which will lead to Siddhagadwadi), one should turn left and proceed towards the main wall of the Sahyadri. Soon one finds oneself walking at the edge, with sharp drops to the Konkan on the left, and the wall of the Sahyadri on the right. This path is the Ahupe-Siddhagadwadi path (see the description of Ahupe). Walking below the wall of the Sahyadri on this path is a great experience, and one crosses a lot of waterfalls in the monsoon, and many narrow gorges with fabulous drops on the way. The traverse on this path is more or less flat. After walking for about 45 min. on this path, one reaches a point below Damdamia where there is a bifurcation. To the right, one can see a branch climbing up towards Damdamia, which is what one should take. Taking this bifurcation leads one to the Deccan plateau (900m) in about 45min, and just after reaching the Deccan plateau, there is a path to the right into the forest climbing up to the top of Damdamia. This bifurcation is same one as mentioned on the Ahupe-Sidhhagadwadi route (see description of Ahupe). However, it is possible that one might miss this bifurcation and go ahead on the main (Siddhagadwadi Ahupe route). If that happens, one can realise it as follows. From the bifurcation point, if one goes ahead on the main route, one sees the route widening up a bit, to allow some farming to be done there. At the farming area the wall of the Sahyadri is to one’s right, but the edge is some distance away on the left. From here looking back, one can see Damdamia. One realises that one is standing below another peak north of Damdamia, and one can see some sort of a cleft between this peak and Damdamia. If this happens, then one can clearly realise that one has overshot Damdamia, and then one can walk backwards on the route for about 15min, and see the bifurcation (now the route to Damdamia is on the left).
From Damdamia, one can proceed to Ahupe Ghat by walking on the Deccan plateau. The route is described in the Ahupe section. In fact, the Damdamia-Ahupe Ghat trek (climbing Damdamia from Nariwali via Siddhagadwadi plateau, walking on Deccan plateau towards Ahupe, crossing the Ahupe ring of hills to reach Ahupe village, and descending from Ahupe village to Khopiwali via Ahupe Ghat) can be done in one day (but one should be careful about route finding, especially in the monsoon). This combined trek is a great one day trek, especially in the monsoon, thrilling and a bit strenous, about 30km walk in total.

Harishchandragad Area

This area consists of Harishchandragad, Karkai Dongar, Bhairavgad and other peaks near the pass of Malshej.

Harishchandragad

This is a gigantic mountain and is usually visited as a two day trek from Mumbai. The best part of Harishchandragad is the Konkan Kada, which is a unique sight in the Sahyadris. In fact if one just wants to visit Konkan Kada, then a one day trek suffices, but in a two day trek one can get to see and enjoy many more things.

Harishchandragad

First, HC is something of a no-no during monsoon, because you can be so completely in the clouds that you may not be able to see anything.On the other hand, if you are going to wait for the sights to clear ….

First take a bus — going towards Sherur or something from Kalyan, and get off at Khubi Phata (Khireshwar turning; remember the location of the bus stop). There is a long walk from Khubi Phata to Khireshwar, along the side of the tank bund. Could be fun, but it somewhat a pain when you are returning from the top, tired. At the end of the long road, just head into the jungle; there is a clear path that leads you all the way up to the col (Tolar Khind). The mountain to your right as you are walking is quite impressive called XXX.

At the Khind, you start climbing to your left. There are some slippery and a little exposed rocks here that you will have to navigate — but these days there are metal railings that will help you. Just follow the well defined route till you reach the top. At the top there is a longish walk, till you come to long stone wall, at this wall you will have to turn left(?) to reach the temple. The route to Konkan Kada (about 20-30 mins from the temple) is behind the temple complex.

Nali Vat route

(warning: not for beginners and NOT in the monsoon)

At the end of the long road, just head into the jungle; there is a clear path that leads you all the way up to the col (Tolar Khind). The mountain to your right as you are walking is quite impressive called XXX.

At the Khind, you start climbing to your left. There are some slippery and a little exposed rocks here that you will have to navigate — but these days there are metal railings that will help you. Just follow the well defind route till you This is a sexy alternative to the above — but very steep, and some exposure, lots of rocks, even a little mess in the jungle. But, its worth it: you are climbing right next to the Kada all the time. In fact, I believe that it is this route that is described in Kapadia’s book under Sadhle Ghat (Sadhle ghat itself is still further away — and hopefully will be written up in these pages some day).

For this route, you go the village called YYYY, and then from back of the village walk straight towards Konkan Kada (walk till you are surrounded on three sides by the rock walls –) here there is a huge rock shelf where some signs are painted. At this point the route branches left, and starts climbing almost immediately. The route up is through a gully, which one, it is pretty obvious. After navigating lots of rocks etc., and nearing the top, you will have to switch from this gully to the one on your right. This is a tricky bit, scree, exposed, and a tricky dance, but there is a beautifully anchored tree that will aid you. Then go around to the other gully, and there is a slight scree step — a little exposed.

A few more steps and then you are on the top, except that there is a jungle cover there which is a pretty puzzle. I believe that the route thru it is at the far end to your left — if you penetrate the jungle there is a 2m rock face at the back which needs climbing. After all this you are about half an hour flat walk from the Konkan Kada — there is a clear path.

At the end of the long road, just head into the jungle; there is a clear path that leads you all the way up to the col (Tolar Khind). The mountain to your right as you are walking is quite impressive called XXX.

At the Khind, you start climbing to your left. There are some slippery and a little exposed rocks here that you will have to navigate — but these days there are metal railings that will help you. Just follow the well defind route till you This entire climb should take you about two hours.

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