There’s something about the mountains that keeps calling you back. If you’re a trekker, you will agree when I say, ‘You can never stop at one!’ Every trek you do just inspires and urges you to do more. Monsoons are the most awaited season of picturesque treks in the Sahayadris! The most beautiful views can be witnessed in the mountains of Maharashtra during this season. Almost every other weekend starting June to December, my friends and I are off for some adventure in the mountains. This year was no different. Just when the rains took over the sanity of Mumbai city, our excitement shot up with no leaps and bounds.
Being our first trek of the season and also since we had a few friends who hadn’t trekked before, we made a group of 12 and headed to the mountains in Lonavala. The mountain ranges in Lonavala are easier to trek as compared to the ones located in other parts of the state. Located 20 kms to the South of Lonavala is Korigad – a fort that was forcibly taken over into his kingdom by Chhtrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The fort is around 3000 feet above sea level and is believed to have been built in the 1500’s. At the Southern and Eastern foothills of Korigad is Amby Valley. Amby Valley’s helipad and 2 artificial lakes make for a brilliant view from the top. Korigad’s massive gate is still intact. In addition, several ruins of structures within the fort still exist. There are 6 massive cannons – the largest of which is called the Laxmi Toph and is located just near the temple. There are also 2 cute little lakes on the top of the mountain.
We got to the base of Korigad only by late afternoon with the idea of spending the night atop. It took us about 2 hours to ascend, which was quite easy but really slippery because of the downpour. The trail was crowded with a lot of people returning from their trek. However, the beauty of the valley compensates for it all. Most of the latter part of the trek is climbing rock cut stairs which literally turns into a waterfall during rains. But again, there is enough space for ascenders and descenders to hike, so there is nothing to worry about. Once you reach the top, you actually feel like you’re in heaven. The weather, the view, the temple absolutely everything on the top of this mountain is so serene and calming. That’s all you would expect out of a trek once you reach the top.
If you visit Korigad in any other season but monsoon, there is enough and more space to enjoy camping on the mountain top. But be assured no matter what you do in the rains, you will never be able to pitch or sustain a tent in that weather. Yes, that’s how windy and chilly it gets here at night. So, in spite of carrying tents, we spent the night at the temple.
The temple is quaint and lovely with space for travellers and trekkers to rest. It can accommodate up to 15 people at a time and helps you stay comparatively warm than the outdoors (You will still freeze. Please ensure you carry warm clothing for the night if you plan an overnight stay at Korigad)
We spent the night dancing (to save ourselves from the midnight chill), singing and listening to some lovely soothing music all night long. We literally had the mountain to ourselves and it was the most calming and fulfilling experiences to spend the night on an eerily calm mountain top with soft music and great conversations.
By midnight, we had surprise visitors and being welcoming and cordial only led to inhumanly squeezing in 15 more people in the temple premises. Not the best idea, but what the hell, don’t things like these make up for crazy memories? Also, it is public property, you just need to accommodate and adjust if you end up with fellow trekkers. So be prepared.
It was an early morning for us, while most of the trekkers were still asleep, we ended up going for a walk exploring the ruins of this fort. The early morning walk is something you shouldn’t miss. If you’re there during the rains, the morning mist, the faint hues of sunrise in the foggy skies will make for the best start to your day. Visit during any other season and the gorgeous sunrise is what will make you smile.
Food and Water
Since Korigad is quite well-known, the locals run mini restaurants along the trail and on top to provide you with food (vada pao, bhajjiya, pohe and chai) and bottled water. I would still suggest you carry your own water just in case.
The villagers are extremely helpful and kind and will make sure they help you in whatever way they can if need be.
Getting to Korigad is pretty easy from Mumbai. Just take the ST bus from Mumbai to Lonavala. From Lonavala ST bus stop, you can take a tuktuk or hire a cab to Korigad base village. It takes around 45 mins to an hour to get to the base from Lonavala bus station. The vehicle will drop you off exactly where you need to begin the climb to the top. Taking your personal vehicle will definitely be more convenient.
Those of you who are looking for a simple yet surreal adventure, do not miss out on Korigad!