Trekking in the Western Ghats is a fascinating experience. Apart from being older than the Himalayan Mountain Range, the Western Ghats are also a lot more diverse. In fact, parts of the Western Ghats are declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The range is one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world.
Varied landscapes: The trails in the Ghats span across multiple landscapes, from dense tropical forests to barren plateaus and from deep valleys with gushing rivers to steep waterfalls and grand meadows. The Ghats have it all.
Rich history: The one thing that sets the Ghats apart from other mountain ranges is its rich history with respect to forts and other palaces located all over the mountain range on top of steep mountains with stunning views of the lush green forests and deep valleys.
Unfortunately, there are multiple Trekking Myths about the Western Ghats, leading to trekkers avoiding trekking in the Ghats. Trekking in the Western Ghats is open all year round. To see the diversity, you must visit a trail at least in two different seasons.
Western Ghat Trekking Myths
Although these Ghats have gained significant popularity for trekking, these are the most common Trekking Myths in the Western Ghats:
Myth No. 1 – There are no summer treks in the Western Ghats
A lot of people have written and mentioned that the ideal time for trekking in the Western Ghats is post monsoon months (October to September) and winter (December to February).
Most people often believe that the summers are not ideal for trekking in the Ghats as the temperatures are soaring and trekking in these conditions will be too difficult or not enjoyable. This is simply not true.
The Western Ghats are open for trekking all year long and while the summer months do get hot in the cities and towns, the Western Ghats have multiple cool, breezy treks for interested trekkers.
In fact, the summer months are ideal for Mullayanagiri trek and Chembra peak trek to name a few.
Myth No. 2 – You cannot trek in the Western Ghats in the monsoons
This is not true. While the Western Ghats do receive a lot of rainfall during the monsoon months, it does not rain all day long for three months straight. Although, in fairness – trekking in the rain is the monsoon experience that the Western Ghats are known for. Unlike the Himalayan Treks, Western Ghat monsoon treks can be completed in a day, this implies that trekkers can do the Western Ghat treks without poncho or raincoat and still not fall sick.
The monsoons rejuvenate the ghats after the harsh summers. The parched landscape transforms into a lush green paradise with seasonal waterfalls and blooming flowers across the Ghats during the monsoons.
The Ghats are considered to be the prettiest during the monsoon. The monsoon season is also great for treks such as Harishchandragad trek, Sinhagad trek, Kalsubai Trek, Rajgad fort trek and many more. To know more about such treks click here.
The lush greenery during the months of monsoon on the Kalsubai trek. Picture by Jay Mehta
Myth No. 3 – Treks in the Western Ghats are easy
This is one of the most common Trekking Myths!
People believe that Himalayan treks are far more challenging than the Western Ghat treks simply because they are higher and require trekking in snow. It is not so.
The Western Ghats are home to some of the toughest trails in India. The ascents in some of these trails are steeper than most ascents in any Himalayan trek.
For example, in the Chanderi Fort trek, trekkers gain nearly 2000 feet within a short distance of 3 km. That’s the equivalent of climbing nearly 200 floors! and treks like Alang Madan Kulang requires technical expertise!
These treks require trekkers to be well-prepared, both physically and mentally. It is foolish to presume that treks in the Western Ghats can be done without any preparation.
One of the trekkers rappelling down the vertical wall with the help of a rope, harness, mittens (gloves) and a helmet. Picture by Nitesh Kumar
Myth No. 4 – Treks in the Western Ghats are only a day long
Yes, Western Ghats are home to many one-day treks. But the Ghats are also home to far longer treks.
Trekkers often have the misconception that one should only trek in the Western Ghats when they are short on time, otherwise a Himalayan trek is far more rewarding and challenging.
Truth is, Western Ghat treks can be far longer than Himalayan treks. However, they are curated in a manner to encourage tourists to explore trekking over the weekend.
Case in point, The IIT-B Mountclub conducted a Trans Sahyadri trek beginning from North Maharashtra to the Southern End of the Sahyadri (Western Ghats section beginning in Gujarat and ending just after Panaji in Goa). This trail required trekkers to trek the Ghats for over a month, and by trekking, I do mean no use of cars or vehicles and camping for a month in the Ghats (except for a short period of time). Similarly, there are other longer treks such as the Naneghat to Bhimashankar Trek and Baglan Circuit Trek to name a few.
So, it is a myth that there are no long treks in the Western Ghats. In fact, for trekkers who enjoy less popular routes, the longer treks in the Ghats are a lot more secluded and immersive as compared to shorter Western Ghat treks or for that matter even Himalayan treks.
Beautifully lined up waterfalls on the way to Bhimashankar. Picture by Saurabh Sawant
Myth No. 5 – Trekking in the Western Ghats does not require a guide
While many Western Ghat trails are relatively easy and do not require any assistance or guidance, this is not true for all Western Ghats treks.
The Ghats are home to some of the most diverse terrains and there is a high chance that trekkers can injure themselves if they do not take the necessary precautions.
Case in point – 17 Mumbai Trekkers Rescued and 3 Trekkers lost in Andharban Trek.
For example, treks like the Alang-Madan-Kulang Trek and the Andharban Trek near Pune have certain sections that require rock climbing skills and the ability to navigate trails through dense forests. You need guidance for this.
Trekkers ascending the vertical rock face with the help of a guide. Picture by Nitesh Kumar
Myth No. 6 – Terrain in the Western Ghats are the same and there is no diversity
Another one of the most widespread Trekking Myths, especially amongst the people living in bigger cities and town. The common belief is that the Western Ghats have similar geography and ecosystem throughout the entire 1600 km long mountain range. This is not only false but impossible.
The Western Ghats are home to some of the most pristine waterfalls, forests, lakes and valleys. The Ghats also act as the origination point of many major rivers and is home to the last untouched evergreen tropical forest in India (Silent Valley National Park).
In fact, the positioning of the Western Ghats (North-South) ensures that the sections of the Ghats are in different temperature zones, thus leading to completely unique ecosystems every few kilometres.
It’s this diversity that makes the Western Ghats such an attractive trekking zone.
For those who still believe that the Western Ghats has no diversity, I highly recommend going for a trek in any region of the Western Ghats and seeing for yourself, the diversity on offer.
Myth No. 7 – Western Ghats treks are only available near Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore or parts of Goa
Due to the population density of major cities like Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore, trekking communities have invested time to identify and promote trails in and around these population centres.
However, there are multiple treks located in other regions of the Ghats, such as the Ratangad Fort trek, Chembra Peak trek, Kodachadri Hills trek, Bhimashankar Trek and the Sankleshpur trek.
It is a myth that the only trekkable trails in the Western Ghats are near the major cities. There are multiple trails across the region and more often the longer trails are actually further away from the big cities.
Heart shaped lake on the Chembra Peak trek, Kerala. Picture by Meghana Jambhe
Myth No. 8 – Trekking in the Western Ghats will lead to getting diseases such as Malaria, Dengue or Cholera
A common question we receive is – how likely is it for us to get Malaria or Dengue or Cholera while going for a Western Ghat trek. Our answer, as likely as it is for you to get the same diseases in a Himalayan trek.
Diseases such as Malaria, Dengue and Cholera are generally found in regions which have poor water quality, overpopulated and have poor hygiene standards.
In the Ghats, none of these factors is applicable. The water is probably cleaner than the RO water you drink at home and there is no scope of overpopulation or lack of hygiene standards in regions with almost no human population.
Therefore, it is highly unlikely for you to get any of these diseases while on a trek. It is possible that you might fall sick in a monsoon trek if you don’t protect yourself from the rains, however, it is not true that you are more likely to get these diseases on a Western Ghats trek.
This is, unfortunately, one of the most common and damaging trekking myths about the Western Ghats amongst trekkers.
Now that we busted most of the popular myths around the Western Ghats, tell us in comments – which of these myths did you believe in?