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A walk in the clouds

Shrouded in fog and dotted with waterfalls, Malshej Ghat beckons travellers every monsoon. Monali G couldn’t resist the temptation any longer

Monsoons in Maharashtra are synonymous with travel. Just a few showers and the dry, unwelcoming countryside metamorphoses into little bits of heaven complete with a green carpet, gurgling waterfalls at every corner and sparkling brooks. And one such itsy-bitsy slice of celestial beauty is Malshej Ghat.

So, when the rains hit this year and the travel bug bit me once again, I picked up my overnight bag and headed off into the valleys of Malshej Ghat.

Getting there
Malshej Ghat is a favourite weekend getaway for Mumbaikars and Puneites. Located in Pune district, near the borders of Thane and Ahmednagar districts, it’s the perfect destination for a one-day trip. You can ride out on your bikes, hire a car or just hop on to a state transport bus. But whatever your mode of transport, the thought when you get there is the same. You never wanna go back!

For those going from Mumbai or via it, Malshej Ghat is about 154 km away. Take the NH3 to Bhiwandi and turn towards Murbad or take state highway via Kalyan, Murbad, Saralgaon and Vaishakhare to reach Malshej ghat.
For those coming from Pune, It’s about 160 kms away. Take NH50 (Pune-Nasik highway), turn left at Narayangaon and pass through Junar.

The closet railway station is Kalyan. From there you can get autorickshaws to your destination. The roads after Kalyan are amazing. They are clean, pothole free and bordered with trees and lush greenery on both sides. The trip to Malshej Ghat is just as breathtaking as the place itself. There are numerous waterfalls on the way just begging you to get drenched. The adventurous sorts can ditch their vehicles and trek up to the peak. The walk through the clouds is an experience you will never forget.

In the ghat
As you near Malshej Ghat, you’ll numerous waterfalls trickling down the sides of the road and hordes of people frolicking to them. All this happens on the highway and sometimes ends up causing massive traffic jams. Zero visibility or hooligans blocking the way often contribute to it. When I was there, there was a bunch of guys who stopped every passing vehicle, danced in front of it for a couple of minutes before letting it pass. However, everyone takes the madness in good sprits and that just adds to the charm of this place.

What to do?
There is nothing much to do here actually other than gasp at the breathtaking views and soak yourself in the waterfalls. So, more the number of people in your group, the merrier it shall be!. Also, there are many groups of drunken idiots around, and going in a large group ensures that they refrain from causing trouble for you. For added safety, there is constant police patrolling there to keep things under control.

Malshej ghat is also a nesting site for different species of birds, especially flamingoes. So, if you don’t find any chicks to ogle, you can indulge in some real bird watching.

Khaana peena
There is almost nothing here for the foodies. So, make sure you carry a picnic basket along to take care of those hunger pangs. The closest place to stay overnight or grab a bite is the MTDC resort called Flamingo Resort. Whatever you go there for, don’t expect too much. The only saving grace of the resort is its location. The service and rooms are not great, but the view is spectacular, with clouds sometimes creeping into your room (beat that!). This resort is choc-a-bloc through out the monsoon and people wait for as long as two months for their turn. So, if you are planning to stay here, make sure you book in advance.

Alternatively you can go to Sushant resort just 2 kms ahead of the MTDC resort, which serves fairly good food.

What else?
If you are up for more adventure after you are done exploring Malshej Ghat, you can head to Shivneri fort, which is just 30 kms from here. This fort is the birth place of the great Shivaji Maharaj and it takes you back to history with its rugged beauty.

This place has to be on your must-see-before-I-die list. As for me, after I reluctantly returned from there, I have been persuading my boss to increase my salary, so that I can buy some land there and build a farm house.

– Monali G

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