(Written by Anoushka Gahilot)
Kundalika Valley is situated in the dense jungle of the Tamhini ghat region, 60-70 km from Pune. While the valley offers a great drive, a jungle trek in the Andharbans is also extremely popular in the rainy season. There are several streams, cascades and waterfalls. Devkund Waterfall Trek, inside the forest area near Bhira village, is a particularly delightful trail. It is the confluence of three waterfalls and is said to be the origin of river Kundalika.
Located in the district of Ahmednagar, Ratangad is an ancient hill fort on Ajoba Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Sahyadri range. Ratangad is almost 400 years old and is also called “Jewels of the Fort”. There are numerous trails around the fort that offer a spectacular view of the valley and waterfalls that form during the monsoons. On the weekend, villagers erect small shacks on the way to provide tea and snacks to trekkers.
Trekkers in the area of Rajmachi Fort, also located in the rugged Sahyadri mountains, can view the fort, waterfalls, temples and ancient Buddhist caves in the green forests. There are two forts — Shrivardhan and Manaranjan.
Placed at a height of around 3,250 feet, Bhimashankar is surrounded by dense forests. It is situated at the extreme end of the Sahyadri range. The trekking route passes through rivers and streams and one can spot rare flora and fauna. The forest department has also made some campsites within the wildlife sanctuary in the area for overnight stays.
The Lohagad trek is ideal for beginners, with stairs at the end of the trail leading upto the fort. The caves and Shiv temple at the fort also attract numerous visitors.
Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in Baramati, around 70-75 kms from Pune, Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is a grassland habitat that is usually dry and barren during summers. It becomes lush green during the rains. The Chinkara species are abundant in this area, as are foxes, reptiles and eagles. The baya weavers in the area also make hanging nests during the rainy season.
Various adventure groups such as Rivers and Ridges and Explorers organise group treks to these locations. Some of them also provide tents for overnight stay. Rohan Ratanpal, business head of River and Ridges, says, “We mostly try to stay near the locals to give a first-hand experience to people. Along with fun activities, we also educate them about organic farming and rain harvesting.” Paresh Deshmukh, co-founder of Footloose Journeys, says, “While we plan camps to witness the attributes of nature, we must also take care to respect it and not cause harm in any way. The smallest of creatures are part of a larger ecological cycle and must