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The Complete Guide to Bhoot Bangla Trek

Bhoot Bangla is the colloquial name of a forest rest house that was built during British rule. The British civil engineer, who was looking over the dam project on the three lakes, built this as a summer retreat. This dilapidated structure stands in ruins, in the middle of the forest, looking very much like a Bhoot Bangla. One can still find remnants of a fireplace, a broken bathtub, servant quarters and a spacious three-bedroom area. With a beautiful view of Tulsi Lake from its balcony, it’s not hard to imagine why they built this property away from the suburbs of Bombay.

The approach to Bhoot Bangla is via a trek of over 11 kilometres (one way) to the banks of Tusli Lake. It is in the middle of the National Park, away from most visitors and morning walkers.

From here, multiple trails are shooting out in all directions. The trail going north connects you with “Yeoor hill trail,” which leads you into the greenest section of the park, all the way to Thane. The trail heading east connects you with the “Viewpoint trail,” which is the highest point in Mumbai, and offers superb views of three lakes. The trail going southeast takes you to the Muland West Gate exit. One can return to Borivali East entry gate from Bhoot Bangla, taking the same trail to reach here.

➤ Highlights

Bhoot Bangla is the colloquial name of a forest rest house that was built during British rule. The British civil engineer, who was looking over the dam project on the three lakes, built this as a summer retreat. This dilapidated structure stands in ruins, in the middle of the forest, looking very much like a bhoot bangla. One can still find remnants of a fireplace, a broken bathtub, servant quarters and a spacious three-bedroom area. With a beautiful view of Tulsi Lake from its balcony, it’s not hard to imagine why they built this property away from the suburbs of Bombay. The approach to Bhoot Bangla is via a trek of over 11 kilometres (one way) to the banks of Tusli Lake. It is in the middle of the National Park, away from most visitors and morning walkers. From here, multiple trails are shooting out in all directions. The trail going north connects you with “Yeoor hill trail,” which leads you into the greenest section of the park, all the way to Thane. The trail heading east connects you with the “Viewpoint trail,” which is the highest point in Mumbai, and offers superb views of three lakes. The trail going southeast takes you to the Muland West Gate exit. One can return to Borivali East entry gate from Bhoot Bangla, taking the same trail to reach here.

➤ Short Itinerary

Hiking on forested “phantom” trails

  • In the heart of a thriving Sanjay Gandhi National Park on the northern fringes of Mumbai, lies a relic from the British era. Its secluded location and spooky appearance lend it the name Bhoot Bangla (Haunted House). A trek to this house is a sheer thrill, not because of the “spookiness” but because of the beauty of the forested trail, especially post-monsoon. A placid lake next to the house adds to the scenery and is reason enough to trek to this place on a weekend.
  • This lake provides Mumbaikars with drinking water. This trail is linked to an urban legend of a phantom hitchhiker, who keeps a close watch on the forest trail and asks for free rides from passers-by. And the forest guard swears by the presence of this dubious entity.  Needless to say, believers and nature lovers will both find themselves at home, hitch-hiking the phantom trails to Bhoot Bangla.

➤ Trail Information

Day 1: SGNP Entry gate, Borivali East – Kanheri Cave trail – Tulsi Lake – Bhoot Bangla – Muland West Exit Gate

  • Distance: 20 – 22 km approx.
  • Time took: 5 – 6 hours

The trek starts from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park entry Gate at Borivali East, Mumbai. After taking an entry pass from the Forest counter, one is allowed to drive to Kanheri Cave. The distance to Kanheri Cave from the entrance is about 7.5 km. One can also take the shuttle vehicle that drops passengers at Kanheri Cave. One can also choose to trek this distance on foot, though this trail is crowded with visitors.

Forest view of Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Forest view of Sanjay Gandhi National Park

The trek is best done in monsoon, for its greenery and fully replenished water bodies. You might need to be accompanied by a forest guard if you’re trekking in the interiors of the forest. Trekking further to Yeoor Hill Trail, View Point Trail, Shilonda Trail, etc, would require a separate permit ticket. Since there might be leopards in the forest, it’s best to trek in a group. Avoid trekking solo. The trek from the entry gate to Bhoot Bangla is around 11 kilometres. If one takes a drop till Kanheri Cave, then the actual one-way trek is reduced to 4 kilometres. The trail till Kanheri Cave is on a motorable road that goes across Gandhi Samarak. It takes about two hours to reach Kanheri Cave on foot.

Green Meadow ridge comes alive in monsoon season

Green Meadow ridge comes alive in monsoon season

Feel free to take a detour and see the ancient Kanheri Caves, with lovely Buddhist sculptures. From here, the trail narrows down and meanders into a dense forest. You now enter a restricted area of the Park, which requires permits from the Forest Department. Multiple rivulets pass by the trail. In monsoon, they are overflowing and look very inviting. The trail takes you to the Forest Department Log Hut. This section of the trail is very picturesque. Look out for small herds of deer. They are very common on this trail. There is a wide array of flowers, especially wild turmeric and Crepe Ginger flowers. During monsoon, one can find many white crabs hiding behind thick foliage. As you proceed on the dirt trail, there are a few rivulets that need to be forded. In monsoon, the water levels are high and it is fun to cross over there on bare feet. The Forest Hut from here is only half an hour away. From the Forest Hut, the route to Bhoot Bangla is an hour-long hike alongside the periphery of Tusli Lake.

Ruins of Bhoot Bangla

Ruins of Bhoot Bangla

On this trail, you’ll pass by a small meadow before entering a forest trail again. You’ll get your first glimpse of the Tusli Lake on your right close to the entry point to the Bhoot Bangla. The trail then takes a U-turn, as you reach the entry gate to the Bhoot Bangla. From here, the trail ascends gradually till you see a dilapidated building surrounded by forest cover. This is the famous Bhoot Bangla. The building is situated at a fantastic vantage point, with a beautiful view of the lake. It is plausible that British engineers used this as a summer retreat and for their favourite pastime, hunting. Walk towards the lakeside to get a beautiful view of Tulsi Lake and Vihar lake behind it. One can trek further to the View Point Trail to view the three famous lakes in the region.

Tulsi lake and Powai urban setting in the far background.

Tulsi lake and Powai urban setting in the far background.

You can exit from the building by taking the same route and leaving through the Borivali East Gate. One can also exit by trekking via a new route south to Mulund West gate. However, one has to check with the Forest Guard for permission for the latter trail. Cover picture by Kothanda Srinivasan. The rest of the pictures are by Sadanand Kamath.

➤ What to Pack for the Trek

The Bhoot Bangla trek is just a one day trek. You will only need the following things.

  • Small 20L backpack
  • Two litre bottle
  • A jacket or poncho in case of rain
  • Snacks
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