The 21st century is passing through at the speed of light. Life in the city is even more fast-paced over the weekends. Mumbaikars and Punekars yearn to enjoy their short-lasting weekends every year. Fortunately, there are the Western Ghats for the rescue they need. More specifically, Karjat in the Raigad district.
The Raigad district consists of the famous hill station of Matheran, beautiful majestic waterfalls, and hilltop forts. The closest nature embedded place near Mumbai is Karjat. The place is an ecozone and the locals have made sure it stays that way. Amongst the lush green landscape of peaks, rivers, waterfalls, and fields, there lies the Sondai Fort. This short one distance trek is an ideal pocket-friendly getaway from Mumbai.
The base village is Karjat. The village is well connected by the Central Railway and one can directly embark the train from CSMT to Karjat without having to change lines. One can either travel via train or private vehicle or cabs. The Sondai fort is approximately 9 kms away from Karjat railway station. The Sondai fort trek is fairly easy with a height of 1200ft and due to the installation of stairs and rails along with it. The trek trail consists of a muddy narrow path with open green fields on both sides. The trek is quite easy and can be completed within 90 minutes. The fort was supposedly a watch tower in the early years. Once you reach the summit after a hike of an hour, you will be witnessing the valley free from civilization and glowing in natural habitat. The monsoon is the best season to visit this fort. The monsoon views are stunning with clouds cutting through the peak.
The trail would be like a piece of cake for the expert trekkers. Since the fort takes an hour or so of your time, there are no toilets or refreshment facilities near the foothills. You will find hotels, restaurants along the highway to Karjat. By road, Karjat is merely 63 kms from Mumbai. It is advised to wear trekking shoes and avoid sandals or slip ons which do not protect your feet. The rain makes it slippery and risky to hike hence traveling with a wind-cheater and good quality shoes is a must. The winters in Karjat are cold and foggy. The visibility drastically decreases in December due to fog. Hiking in the winters would also result in a refreshing experience. The only thing that makes this trek a monsoon trek is the waterfalls created along the rocky terrain giving it a scenic look to capture.
The Morbe dam can be seen from the summit along with Matheran ranges. You can visit the dam or even choose to camp in the nearby campsite.
The nearby attractions include;
- Matheran hill station
- Garbett Plateau
- Vikatgad Peb Fort
Karjat and nearby areas are famous for weekend homes, farm houses, resorts and villas. The high-end cafes like Namak, Saltt in Oleander Farms are some of the underrated places in Karjat. The Oleander Farms is a 140 acre land established by a British family back in the day. The widely spread farm is an ideal location for events like weddings, christmas parties, new year parties and many more. The Saltt restaurant is an aesthetically pleasing cafe which is totally instagram worthy. The vibe, food and location of the place is antique, fresh and amiable.
Another recommended place would be The Village restaurant on the Karjat Highway close to the N.D studios. Also, don’t miss out on the opportunity to click photos near N.D studios where several Bollywood movies were shot. The sets of Jodha-Akbar are located here.
On the other hand, we have Matheran which was founded by Hugh Poyntz Malet who was the district collector of Raigad in 1850. At an elevation of just 800m, Matheran has made a significant impact on Raigad’s economy. What sets it apart from all the hill stations in India is its intertransport facility. The hill station does not allow motorized vehicles like bikes, cars, trucks etc. Tourists visiting Matheran either travel by horses or pull carts. The hill station is completely eco-friendly and free from the polluted air that vehicles emit. You will be cohabitating with monkeys and horses while staying in Matheran. There are ample hotels, homestays and resorts in Matheran which enhance the region’s economy whilst maintaining the environment.
Grab your travel bag and set your foot on the train to Karjat for an amazing impromptu escape with your friends.