“The Hills are Alive.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 25 May 2015 NEW
The Western Ghats is a mountain range in India, which starts near the border between the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, runs down into Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It ends at the southern tip of India near Kanyakumari. It is also known as the Sahyadri Hills in India. It has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its biological diversity.
There are many hill stations in the Sahyadris where a nature lover and tourist and can stay and enjoy the beauties of nature. There are also many forts located at vantage points on these hills, built by the famous Maratha warrior king Shivaji. Since there is a lot of rainfall on the western side of the hills, there are a good number of wildlife sanctuaries and nature parks too. The climate is cooler than in the plains near the coast. As you travel east into the interiors the land flattens out and is called the ‘Deccan Plateau’.
Pune is a good base to explore many of hill resorts in and around Maharashtra. Pune is also the cultural capital of the state, and is about 160 km from the ‘Maximum City’, Mumbai, to which it is connected by a super-fast expressway.
As you travel along the expressway from Mumbai to Pune, and start the uphill climb on the Ghats (hills) you will feel a perceptible drop in temperature and less humidity in the atmosphere. Soon you will be passing the twin hill towns of Lonavla and Khandala. There are many resorts in both these towns where you can stop and refresh yourselves. This, in fact, is the starting point of your ‘Western Ghats’ experience. If you choose to carry on you will reach Pune within the hour.
From Pune you can branch out in different directions to explore the Sahyadris. In Pune itself you can climb high atop the Sinhagad (Lion) Fort and get a bird’s eye view of Pune district. There are some lakes and dams around Pune where the locals go for a weekend picnic during the monsoons (rainy season). About 60 km from Pune is the newly constructed city of Lavasa. It has been privately developed on the hillsides around a lake. It is a 2 hour drive from Pune.
The highest peak in the Maharashtra Sahyadris is Mt. Kalsubai. It is north of Pune near Bhandardara. This is a place with great natural beauty and worth a visit. It is also near the holy city of Nashik, which is situated on the banks of River Godavari. Igatpuri is another hill station north of Pune.
As you travel south along the Bangalore highway, a right turn off the highway takes you to Wai. From Wai the hill stations of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar is but a short climb up the picturesque Pasarni Ghat. Both these hill towns are replete with viewing points from where you get grand views of the surrounding hills and valleys. A lot of holiday resorts are located here. Panchgani is 102 km and Mahabaleshwar about 120 km from Pune.
Further south, near Kolhapur, are the lesser known hill resorts of Panhala and Amboli. Amboli is also a stopover point for travellers to the famous beaches of Malvan and Goa.
The best season to explore the Ghats starts with the monsoon rains, when the temperature cools and a mesmerising mist envelops the hillsides. Avid trekkers bring out their gear and start criss-crossing the well trodden paths. Till the middle of March is a good time to explore the Western Ghats, as the scenery remains lush and green, even after the rains stop.
Visited March 2015
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