Full of lush green, Mrugagad is a treat to the eyes in the monsoon. Mrugagad, which is also known as Bhelivcha killa is located in the Sudhagad Taluka (Raigad District). Located near Lonavala, Khopoli and Khandala, it is 95.5 kms away from Mumbai and 114.6 kms from Pune. This one hour climb from the base village Bheliv will take you through a dense forest and scenic view of the western ghats. One of the best features are the small caves and the view from one such cave is breathtaking. Be careful while reaching out the fort as the route is carved with rocky patches which is wide enough for a single person. But it was worth it as beyond the caves lies a scenic view of the western ghats which totally made me in awe. Mrugagad in monsoon is a bliss and I would definitely recommend you visit this beauty at least once.
2. Duke’s Nose-
Duke’s nose which is also known as Nagphani is a famous spot to hike in Khandala/ Lonavala as it is easily accessible for Punekars as well as Mumbaikars. Duke’s is comparatively an easy hike which makes it a nice detour point for families visiting Lonavala/ Khandala and are looking for some adventure. It is located in Kurvande village and is 73.7 kms from Pune and 85.8 kms from Mumbai. Duke’s Nose offers you a panoramic and a beautiful view of Khandala/ Lonavala which you surely would not want to miss. Duke’s nose is also a perfect place to camp and stargaze during clear skies. Duke's nose also witnesses people slackline as it has a beautiful valley. Oh, to watch a train pass by while sitting on the top of Duke’s Nose is not something you would want to miss.
3. Visapur/ Lohagad-
Located in Malavli district, Lohagad and Visapur are two forts which are easily accessible from Pune and Mumbai with the distance of 62.5 kms and 98.2 kms, respectively. The name of these two twin forts always precede each other in almost every hiker’s mouth. One can ascend both the forts in one day as well. When the trails split, the right one will lead you to Lohagad fort and the left one will lead you to Visapur fort. The trails of visapur in monsoon will give you the fun experience walking in water between the rocky terrain. There is also an offbeat place toward the backside of the visapur fort. A brief hike will lead you to an amazing view.
4. Korigad Fort-
Korigad is situated near Amby Valley in Lonavala, it is 94.1 kms from Pune and 107.3 kms from Mumbai. Hike to Korigad starts with a forest trail and then gets merged with stone paved stairs which makes it perfect for beginners as well. The view while the climb is just mesmerizing. There is a temple inside the fort of goddess Koraidevi. There is also a pond/ lake located above. The walk around the perimeters of the walls of the fort gives you a beautiful and scenic view. Korigad provides you peace, serenity and an escape from your mundane reality.
Rajmachi is again one of the most famous hiking destinations which avid hikers haven’t been able to keep their eyes off from. Also known as the stairway to heaven, Rajmachi is 171.5 kms and 314.2 kms from Pune and Mumbai, respectively. One can plan an overnight camping stay in tents and wake up to a serene view of nature. Rajmachi basically consists of twin forts- Shrivardhan and Manaranjan forts. Rajmachi provides a rich experience of lush greens and scenery. Rajmachi provides scenic views of sahyadri, lush greens, waterfalls, twin forts and if that is not all, you can also experience the magical beauty of fireflies.
Harishchandragad is a fort which has fallen into the ears of many hikers. It is a hill fort located in the district of Ahmednagar carrying history and caves with temples placed on its shoulder. The distance from Pune and Mumbai is One of the very famous caves is Kedareshwar Cave and has a Shivling which is surrounded by water inside the cave. There are also 4 pillars built around the Shivling and a local legend says that when the fourth pillar breaks, the world will come to an end. (source- wikipedia). As beautiful and stunning the view is while climbing one has to make sure to have proper mountain hiking shoes as the hike is not an easy one. You can find Mountain Hiking Shoes here. Even though Harishchandragad requires a vigorous hike, the view compensates for it. One of the best parts is that the pre- monsoon clouds gather below the altitude of the fort. This absolutely surreal experience just cleanses your soul.
7. Sondai Fort-
Sondewadi village near Karjat locates a lesser known fort known as Sondai Fort. It is 106 kms and 62.6 kms from Pune and Mumbai. The fort has a temple at the summit of Sondai devi and a carved steps and iron ladder has been installed for the hike. The view in the monsoon season is absolutely beautiful and peaceful. Beginners can also cherish the memories of the climb. A perfect, easily accessible getaway for mumbaikars for a nice refreshing hike.
8. Devkund Waterfall-
While talking about monsoon hikes, how can I not mention Devkund Waterfall? Devkund is located 123.5 kms and 98.8 kms from Mumbai and Pune, respectively. Although the gates are many times closed due to heavy monsoon, you can research well and go when the rains are less aggressive. The trails are well marked but it is advisable to hire a guide as the trails could get confusing. A 2-3 hour hike through a dense forest and crossing a couple of streams will take you to one of the most beautiful and well- known waterfalls in Maharashtra. This beautiful picturesque waterfall located in a dense forest has attracted a lot of hikers. A raincoat would be recommended due to unpredictable rains. You can find hiking raincoats here.
9. Dodhani waterfall-
I don’t think a monsoon hike journey is complete without a hike to the waterfall. Dodhani waterfall is located near Panvel at a distance of 52.5 kms and 138.6 kms from Mumbai and Pune, respectively. A walk in/ beside the stream with a view of lush farms and fresh green hills and a hike in the forest, Dodhani offers you all. The mist falling on your face from the waterfall surely is refreshing. Dodhani offers you a quick and easy getaway for Mumbaikars with picturesque views only around 20kms away from Panvel. Adventure activities such as waterfall rappelling is also conducted there. Wearing strong gripped shoes is strongly recommended as to avoid slipping while hiking on the slippery rocky terrain. You can check some hiking shoes here.