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The monsoon may be an inconvenience in the city, but it does green the Ghats and feed the streams and falls to which tourists are drawn.
Mumbaikars would agree that the monsoon is the city’s best and most beautiful season. It is almost as if the metro’s madness cools off on those rainy weekends. While there are several weekend getaways, nothing beats the seasonal waterfalls that sprout all across the geography in this weather. So, switch off your vehicle’s AC, roll down those tinted windows and let the crisp fresh air work its magic on your senses.
Here are the places you don’t want to miss this season.
Tamhini Ghat, near Mulshi (Pune), has the most picturesque waterfalls between June and September. The drive from Mumbai (Pune-Mulshi-Tamhini) is full of hairpin bends and five or six hours long, depending on your route and the weather conditions. Even on the way there, the many tiny waterfalls that you will come across will be a delight.
Tamhini Ghat’s waterfalls, big and small, are surrounded by lush greenery. While you cannot escape the holiday crowds, venture a little further towards Kola and you will come to Sutarwadi village. From this village, you can have your very own jungle walk to the Kundalika River. Just make sure you carry a GPS device or a smartphone with Google Earth maps, which will come in handy.
Located a few kilometres from the Vasai highway is this beautiful picnic spot. Chinchoti’s main attraction is the small and big waterfalls that emerge from the surrounding dense forests. While it is closer to Mumbai, just 40-50 km, it does get a bit unsafe in evenings as it is surrounded by forest land where wild animals roam about. The waterfall is said to be about 100 ft high and 20 ft wide, and it has a strong current. Be careful with children.
Near Chinchoti waterfalls are the towns of Tungareshwar and Kamandurga. Tungareshwar is a small place popular among weekend crowds during the monsoon. Its thickly forested plateau is said to be the highest in this region. Kamandurga is a peaceful dome-shaped peak near Tungareshwar. It is popular among trekkers.
The city of Vasai has several good stay options like private resorts, and MTDC guest houses with basic amenities. Prior booking is necessary.
Called the Kullu-Manali of Maharashtra, Malshej is a friendly getaway, the kind where you travel with friends on a wet Saturday morning. Hordes of Mumbaikars drive 150 km to the rain-soaked, misty ghats of Malshej for greenery, clean air and a taste of cold water in the waterfalls of the Sahyadri hills.
The road from Murbad goes straight to the ghats, and from there takes an upward gradient with thick woods on either side. Most of the waterfalls will be visible from the road itself. So, park your vehicle at a convenient location and then walk up and down the 2-3 km stretch that has the most waterfalls and the best views.
Malshej Ghat also has Shivneri Fort where Shivaji was born. Your itinerary should include a visit to places like the Buddhist caves constructed in the 3rd century, Harishchandragadh, and the nearby Ganesh and Shiva temple. Once you have had your fill, there’s a Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation resort at the head of Malshej Ghat, though prior booking is necessary.
Thoseghar is close to Satara so you need to drive to Pune first and then proceed towards Satara. Thoseghar is about 25 km from Satara. Since this place is one of the newest developing picnic spots, it is yet to get its full share of resorts. So plan your travel accordingly.
Thoseghar is famous for tall waterfalls. Most are as tall as 15-20 metres, while one of the main falls is reputed to be about 500 metres. The falls create a loud roaring noise against the still nature. With a lake, dark woods and highly hilly zone around it, this area is a visual treat for greenery-starved Mumbaikars. It promises scenery that you won’t forget easily. From Thoseghar, you can also proceed to Chalkewadi windmill farms to see the windmills. The windmill farm lies around 5 km ahead of Thoseghar and has hundreds of windmills spread over acres of land.