Monsoon Travel: Nature Trails

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Nature Trails
Nature Trails and Treks
Nature Trails and Treks

There is no joy greater than taking a walk amidst a lush green forest, silently taking in the sights and sounds it has to offer you. These four months of rain bring about a complete overhaul to the forests of the ghats. The brown dried plateaus are covered in a carpet of green as new life abounds in this region. And it is absolutely fascinating to become a spectator and watch life bloom in all its splendour. Although, it is easy to spot a wide variety of flora and fauna at a lot of places around the ghats, there are a few interesting areas, with comparatively lesser human presence which offer a unique opportunity to explore the endemic species of this region.

Nature Trails
Nature Trails

1. Shilonda
Shilonda lies within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and the authorities charge a Rs. 50 extra per person to allow entry. They send a Forest Guard along with you and you are free to explore the area. During the monsoons, the river cutting through the trail swells up and is best crossed carefully.

Greater Coucal, Racquet Tailed Drongos, Crested Serpent Eagle are some of the birds you should look out for. Apart from the birds, you might just come across a herd of Spotted Deer (Chital) or a mongoose shuttling around. Also, a variety of spiders, geckos, butterflies can be spotted. If you are interested in plants and flowers, you will not be disappointed!

Nature Trails
Nature Trails

2. Nagla Block
The extreme north end of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, this trail is located just off the Western Express highway. It is visited mostly by environment enthusiasts and not by tourists. This has preserved most of its ecology. A wide variety of butterflies, insects, spiders, birds, reptiles can be spotted. Walk down deep inside to come across the Vasai Creek that separates the block from the national park and observe the waders go about their business in the water.

Enjoy The Greenery
Enjoy The Greenery

3. Bhimashankar
Home to the Shekru or The Indian Giant Squirrel, the state animal of Maharashtra, this region has been declared a wildlife sanctuary thus bringing a protective cover over this beautiful region. It is located close to Karjat and can be explored on foot through 2-3 different routes. It is also home to one of the twelve jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ladders have been affixed to make the climb easier at various places and during the monsoons, it is easy to spot snakes such as the Bamboo Pit Viper, Malabar Pit Viper so one has to be careful while walking around. If you are lucky, the Small Indian Civet or a Barking Deer might pay you a visit too!

Naneghat
Naneghat

4. Malshej Ghat and Naneghat
I have already covered Malshej Ghat in my previous post on driving around but Naneghat is a different experience altogether. It is a hike, a long one at that but passes through streams, dense forests and provides splendid views of the valley below. Naneghat was an important trade route connecting Junnar and ports of Sopara and Kalyan. Nane means coins in Marathi and since coins were collected as a toll to use this route, it came to be knowns as Naneghat. The Satvahana kings constructed a few caves and a water cistern at a peak which till date have inscriptions in Bhrami script on the floors of the caves. There are two routes to explore this trail, one can walk from Vaishakhare (Base village) upto the peak or drive down from Junnar right to the peak, but then most of the flora and fauna will be lost to the drive.

Naneghat Ancient Toll Coins Collection Box
Naneghat, Ancient Toll Coins Collection Box

Tips For Trail Blazers
Before you set out, a few things that you ought to bear in mind.

1. Wear full length pants, avoid shorts.
2. Shoes are a must especially if you consider walking around in thick foliage.
3. Mosquito repellents hardly work so it is better to cover yourself
4. Carry plenty of water

Soak In Nature
Soak In Nature

If you are an amateur, it is recommended that you go on organised trails, led by experts. Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Sprouts and a few environment enthusiasts organise regular trails to these areas. Carry a field guide which will help you identify the species and make you aware of the role it plays in the environment. Most importantly, ensure that you leave only footprints behind and take only photographs with you. Irresponsible tourism has already wrecked havoc and disturbed the ecology of the ghats, sustainable tourism is the way forward. So when you are out there, be sensitive towards the inhabitants of this beautiful region.

Have questions, need advice or want to share your own travel stories? Write to us below or at story@mumbaimag.com and we will be happy to chat.

Post By Rushikesh Kulkarni (22 Posts)

Runs Breakfree Journeys, a cult tourism outfit interested in outdoor travel and backpacking. On days that he is not wandering around the Western Ghats, he is spotted roaming in the bylanes of Bombay scouting for heritage history and good food.

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Rushikesh Kulkarni

Rushikesh Kulkarni
Runs Breakfree Journeys, a cult tourism outfit interested in outdoor travel and backpacking. On days that he is not wandering around the Western Ghats, he is spotted roaming in the bylanes of Bombay scouting for heritage history and good food.