Come a weekend or an extended one or a short getaway if they want, the residents of a fast paced city of Mumbai want to get away from the dust, pollution and noise and relax And ask any Mumbai-kar where he goes and Khandala/Lonavla/Matheran/Alibaug would be the usual replies. But quaint little hill stations or fishing villages that these once were, today are extremely popular tourist destinations. Numerous hotels offering “the best weekend packages” each trying to outdo the other have left these place high and dry of their naive charm. Add to that these hotels have their deals cut out with the local travel agents in Mumbai and in case you go to any of them they will eventually try to sell the same.
So come a weekend, people drive up to Khandala/Lonavla/Alibaug get their pictures clicked on the beach or one of those valley view points, buy chikki or pickled seafood and come back home on a late Sunday night totally exhausted. The next time you find yourself wondering where should be spending the weekend, give up on the usual and try Malshej Ghat. I bet you will come back relaxed and here’s why!
For starters Malshej Ghat is just that - a ghat - Marathi word for a mountain pass. #1 Its not a hill station, a beach town or a pilgrimage city. ITS JUST A PASS!!!! Although you would pass through a couple of more villages before and after the the ghat, the ghat in itself is a 7-10 kilometer scenic stretch with just a couple of resorts Read : Hotels with minimal services. No swimming pool, No Wifi, May or may not have hot running water, no room services
#2 One of these resorts is the MTDC Flamingo resort which has something to offer to most of the people who come. Situated a bit away from the highway, atop the ghat itself, with access to the cliff of mountain, its location is to die for. With airy rooms, some with terraces and balconies it would be your safest and the best bet, where you can wake up to the sun rising on one side of the mountain and going down beyond the cliff in the evenings. A single carom board and a table of ping pong adorn the game room above the restaurant which serves vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian varieties of the North Indian (decently good) and Maharashtrian ( the better choice ) fare. For families with little kids you have a play area with a few swings, see-saws and slides. And for those looking for a bit of a quiet you can find yourself a tree in the large open space and open to that book which you haven’t had a chance to in a while.
And nothing to distract you like pesky tele-callers trying to sell you insurance or offering the best tariff plans to switch over from your network to theirs. Because the cell phone reception, most of the times is negligible. #3Pretty disconnected you would be and that would be not just from you cell phone signal, but also the nearest village or a settlement from the resort is at least a 10-12 min walk from the resort. And though almost equal in distance from Mumbai as compare to an Khandala, Lonavala there are no local travel agents selling a Malshej ghat because they do not have a Malshej Ghat product. And the connecting roads are not as fantastic as the Mumbai Pune Express way and hence very few people drive here as well.
In fact during the monsoons and a month or two thereafter, its a bit pot holed as we get closer to the ghat. #4But monsoon and just afterwards is the best time to visit the ghat. The entire landscape turns to a sheet of green starting from almost 60-80 km before the ghat and as you start the ascent it gets so misty that you feel like driving through clouds. And not to miss out the fact that there are numerous streams and waterfalls along the highway that you can enjoy to the maximum because the crowds are pretty less. But do take care because at times you may find drunk miscreants.
#5To the nature lovers there are various trails which ideal for a long walk in the rains which open up to awesome views of the mountains in the Malshej ghat region. The outdoor-sy guys can put up their tent anywhere they want to except in monsoons. The bird watchers would love seeing pink legged Flamingos during monsoons and species including the Alpine Swift, Purple Moorhen, Pitta, Quail, Whistling Thrush, Green Pigeon, Pied Crested Cuckoo can be also be sighted in the mountains. #6People interested in bit of a history of the region can trek the Naneghat – trade route that was used as far back as 200 BC, Harishchandragad - a trail to this a citadel from 6th century and Shivneri fort – birth place of one of the greatest Maratha warriors is 20 odd kilometers from here.
Lack of commercialization, Nature, Mountains, less tourists, as many reasons as you may want its all there at Malshej ghat Infact for somebody like my friends or myself, we go there whenever we get bored. There is so much to do and so much to see at Malshej Ghat why not really try this place out the next time???