Trekking in Mumbai

Karnala Fort and bird sanctuary

Karnala is more a weekend spot, because of its easy access to Mumbai via the highway (60 km). An ideal stopping point en route to Goa or Alibaug, but what is not so known is that the Karnala Fort offers good opportunities for short treks and rock climbing, especially for the first-timer. Bird watching is best done in the winter, while monsoon is a great time to trek, if you like the rains. It isn't too tiring, and the climb isn't steep, so one doesn't have to be in great shape to enjoy it. Begin the trek as early as possible, to avoid the noon sun.

Matheran

The hill station of Matheran is nearly halfway between Mumbai and Pune, which gets really lush during the monsoon. A basic tar road walk up the hill is through the Neral-Matheran tarred road (11 km), which begins near Neral Railway Station. This is best done at night. Other routes are more enjoyable, though. The 13 km Garbut Point climb, which takes trekkers up the Garbut Plateau through easy mud tracks, begins near Bhivpuri Road Railway Station, on the local train route. If the idea of climbing up waterfalls and traversing forests excites you, try the One Tree Hill route. Start the trek from Chowk, near Karjat. Another route from Chowk to Matheran goes up Shivaji Ladder (10 km). From Dhudhani village, near Panvel, Navi Mumbai, there is another trek upto Porcupine Point, in Matheran, which should take two-three hours.

Lohgad and Visapur forts

These forts are near Lonavala, a popular hill station. The scenery is dazzlingly green during and just after the monsoons, and the fort structures are still in great shape, especially Lohgad. Though Lohgad is an uncomplicated two-hour trek, it can be extended to include a visit to the nearby Buddhist Bhaja and Karla Caves, the adjoining Visapur Fort. To reach Lohgad, alight at Melawli Railway Station on the Central Railway route, by mail or passenger train, or Pune local train. Both forts are accessible from here. Enquire about train timings, and reserve a little in advance.

Harishchandragad

Known as the Queen of the Sahyadri forts, this trek isn't for those who tire easily. The ancient Shiva temple, on top of the hill, is listed as a heritage structure by the Archaeological Survey of India, but the real attraction here is 'Konkan Kada,' a huge sweeping crescent-shaped hill with a sheer drop into the plains. Throw a branch from the top, and the wind sends it flying back to you. Bring along a sleeping bag, carry mat, be ready to cook, just in case a local villager, who normally cooks for trekkers, isn't around anymore. Shelter is available in two caves on top of the hill. The point to start would be Malsej Ghat, on the Kalyan-Murbad Road, where accommodation is available at the MTDC's Flamingo Resort.

Though trekking infrastructure hasn't been developed in these parts, if you are willing to rough it out, very basic meals and accommodation can be obtained at villages that dot the trekking routes. Many forts have perennial ancient water cisterns, which tap spring water and even supply drinking water to trekkers nearby. If you are unsure about doing all this, you might want to go to a trekking agency or club.


Life has become busier with no time to spare. Work commitments, hectic commutes and other uncountable liabilities, hardly leave time to take a break and unwind. Considering the fact that even the tourist spots have become crowded and commercialised, here are some lesser-known destinations near Mumbai. All you need to do is pack a backpack, put on your trekking shoes and get ready to hike.

Peth Fort

It is a small fort characterised by an interesting fortification on top in the shape of funnel. A few km ahead of Karjat, this is an ideal spot for weekend hikes. Though a moderate climb, the view from the top makes it all worthwhile.

Lohgad Fort

About 12 km from Bhaje starts a good three-hour hike to Lohgad fort. Built by Shivaji, the fort soars you to a height of almost 1,025 meters and is situated atop an enormous cliff of sleek rock. Check out the beautiful Scorpion's sting, so called because of the view from the peak.

Malshej Ghat

Verdant undulate meadows, mist kissed mountain slopes and incomparable tranquility are just a few of nature's bounties that await you at Malshej Ghat. One can reach there by road via Kalyan and Murbad in about 4hrs from Mumbai. Close at hand is Shivneri fort (approx 40km), Shivaji's birthplace.

Naneghat

Situated a little further from Malshej Ghat, it is also called Nanacha Angtha. Most of the hikes are rocky and slippery, the later because the trail follows a stream. The walls of the natural caves are carved with hieroglyphic symbols by the ancient traders who frequented this trail.

Bhandardara

At an altitude of 2,400 feet, Bhandardara in the Kasara range beckons the adventurous for exciting treks. Wilson Dam, which is the most popular name of the Bhandardara Lake, is ideal for picnics. The lake also offers facilities for boating. The treks to surrounding ranges start from Wilson Dam. Regular buses run between Igatpuri and Bhandardara.

5 backpacking essentials

  • Home made food wrapped in an aluminum foil is good for one-day hikes
  • For longer trips, carry canned food
  • Water sources are easily available in the wilderness, but carry chlorine drops along. One drop purifies a litre of water
  • Carry a spare set of clothes and a first aid kit
  • Don't forget to carry cash because you never know when it may come handy

Also check out the method of communication and landmarks, accommodation available, food and detailed information of the points and places to visit. A map, if available, always comes in handy.