It's a rainy day in Bangalore. Our office balcony has taken on a green glow from all the lushness around. The beech tree in our garden is heavy with the weight of rain. Tiny raindrops are glistening at the tip of every leaf. The smell of wet earth is intoxicating.
Our office team is getting ready to head out this weekend on a lovely trek near Bangalore.
I can't help but think about what the hillsides must be like right now. Cool and misty forests, tree trunks laden with velvety moss, lush grasslands teeming with flowers and tiny critters, rolling green hills in the distance. It's such a wonderful time of the year to trek.
That's why I thought that today, I'd talk about some offbeat treks you can do on your own. Not in the Himalayas, like I usually share. But somewhere close to your home, where you could trek to a hill, a lake, a river or a forest.
Of course, I cannot cover all states across the country, so today, I'm going to talk about some off-beat trails around popular regions -- Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Calcutta. I’ll share three treks around each of these regions, so that you have options. I hope this fills up your upcoming weekend. :)
Let's get started.
Top 3 Offbeat Monsoon Treks In Karnataka
1. Ballalarayana Durga:
This is an all time Western Ghats favourite at Indiahikes. The grasslands on this trek are other worldly. Once you step into them, you’ll never want to leave. Yet, as you carry on, the trail gets better and better, because within hours, you reach the Bandajje waterfall, not the base of the waterfall, but the very snout of the waterfall!
It takes a weekend to do this trek. You will need to camp at the base and have cooking gear with you. Typically you take an overnight bus on a Friday to Mudigere, trek on a Saturday and get back home by Sunday.
Starting point of the trek: Kalabhyraveshwara Temple, Durgadahalli, Mudigere
How far is it from Bangalore: 280 km
Best route to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/CG8Fg6yiD49yf834A
Find all details about the trek here - https://indiahikes.com/ballalarayana-durga-bandaje-falls-trek
Watch how to do Ballalarayana Durga on your own:
Ballalarayana Durga boasts of a few of the best meadows in the Western Ghats. Picture from Indiahikes archives.
2. Kurinjal Peak:
We all have heard of the Kudremukh trek endlessly, (so much so that the forest dept. has introduced a daily limit on the number of trekkers who can go on the trail). But here’s a trek hidden within the Kudremukh National Park, yet treading a completely untrodden trail.
It takes you through incredibly dense forests, usually thick with fog at this time of the year, beautiful streams that form the Bhadra river, and finally up a steep climb through meadows to get to the peak. The view from the top is similar to what you see from Kudremukh — endlessly rolling hills with unreal shades of green.
Starting point of the trek: Bhagavathi Nature Camp, Kalasa Main Road
How far is it from Bangalore: 310 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/LM4ov9QJXAJFW7H9A
You’ll find all details about this trek here - https://indiahikes.com/kurinjal-peak
A view from the first viewpoint on the Kurinjal Peak trek. The view only gets better and better. Picture by Naveen Ganiga
If you are not looking for an overnight trek, this is a wonderful option. It’s a day hike near Kolar, just around 2 hours away from Bangalore. You could easily take your family early in the morning and return by evening.
The initial trail starts with forests all around, and opens out into a mix of boulders and grassy knolls. It’s a breezy 1 hour trek, with terrific views from the top. You can easily spot the Nandi Hills range, including Skandagiri, Brahmagiri and Channagiri from here. As the name suggests, there are ruins of an old fort at the top, along with a small shrine dedicated to Anjaneya (Hanuman).
Starting point of the trek: Vaddahalli, Kolar
How far is it from Bangalore: 80 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/Ae41nPmTxX9Xs5qn9
You’ll find all details about this trek here - https://indiahikes.com/ambaji-durga-trek
Other good one-day trek options around Bangalore: Harihara Betta, Minchikall Betta, Channarayana Durga
Watch this video where we talk about 10 best day treks around Bangalore:
The initial climb towards Ambajidurga through sparse forests and bushy trails. Picture by Jothiranjan
Click on this link for 7 best monsoon treks in Karnataka that you must do
Top 3 Offbeat Monsoon Treks In Maharashtra
Disclaimer: In Maharashtra, rarely are treks offbeat, but well, these are not as common as the usual ones :)
1. Ghangad Fort
This is a short trail in the Sahyadris situated 35 km from Lonavala. The trail takes you to Ghangad Fort, which sits on top of a hill shaped like a trapezoid. Its unique shape and structure make it stand out, and it's tough not to notice it and be awed by its imposing size.
Ghangad is a short but an 'all in one package' trek, which can be done in a day or with camping. It has a forest section, a surprise at the boulder section, an adventurous climb up a steep metal ladder and a stunning 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains from the top. It is suitable for both fit beginners and experienced trekkers.
Starting point of the trek: Ekole, Pune
How far is it from Pune: 102 km from Pune
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/C4vmKZk6pA6nFjt79
You’ll find all details about the trek here - https://indiahikes.com/the-complete-guide-to-ghangad-fort-trek
Part of the Ghangad Fort Trek gives you a view of the Mulshi dam in the distance. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
2. Rohida / Vichitragad
When I asked a couple of hardcore trekkers from Maharashtra for a monsoon trek recommendation, this particular trek was right on top of their minds. Also called Vicitragad, this is one of those go-to treks in monsoon.
If you have never experienced raging winds, they say that you will see waterfalls billowing upwards, so fierce is the wind here.
Along with this, some breath-taking views of the farms and water dams can be seen from the bastions. There are a total of six bastions covering the fortification wall. All of these are still strong.
Starting point of the trek: Bajarwadi, Ratnagiri
How far is it from Pune: 62 km from Pune
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/7wJ5q66xW8Mm3jfPA
You’ll find all details about the trek here - https://indiahikes.com/rohida-vichitragad-trek
The approach towards Rohida in monsoon. Picture source: Wikimedia Commons
This trek is not off-beat by any means, but I cannot leave it out of a list of the best monsoon treks. Set in Karjat, this trek bursts to life with a wall of waterfalls during monsoon.
Not just that, the initial part of the trail is through dense jungles, further taking you to the fort, which is an architectural marvel. This fort was primarily used as a watchtower & ammunition depot by the ruling armies. The strategic location of the hill provides a commanding view of Padargad, Malanggad, Siddhagad, Chanderi fort, Bhimashankar & Matheran plateau in clear weather.
The Indiahikes Western Campus sits very close to the base of the trek at the campus of the Vijay Bhoomi University. We often take our trekkers on this trek. Everyone simply loves it!
Starting point of the trek: Ambivli, Karjat
How far is it from Mumbai: 90 km from Mumbai
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/zFiPygp7tQWGrgsF6
You’ll find all details about the trek here - https://indiahikes.com/kothaligad-peth-fort-trek
A faraway view of the Kothaligad fort. Picture by Shardul Neswankar
Top 3 Monsoon Treks In Tamil Nadu
1. Kookal Waterfalls
This is a trek we documented recently, with the help of an ardent explorer of treks in Tamil Nadu. This trek takes you to a gem of a waterfall in Kodaikanal. Despite Kodaikanal being one of the most popular hill stations in South India, this waterfall is a less-visited one, since it is a 6 km trek to the waterfall.
The trek starts at a lovely lake, called the Kookal Lake and then winds through dense forests most of the way. It finally enters some thick bushes until you hit the waterfall. You can hear the roar of the waterfall throughout the forest, which not only excites you, but also tells you that you’re on the right path. In monsoon, the waterfall is going to have swelled with rainwater, which is a huge reward at the end of the trek.
Starting point of the trek: Kookal, Kodaikanal
How far is it from Chennai: 559 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/UC5xMMa7riz36MwF7
You’ll find all details about the trek here: https://indiahikes.com/kookal-waterfalls-trek
The multi-layered Kookal Waterfalls. Picture by Parthiban
2. Musattu Hill Trek
Musattu is a small hill hidden away in Krishnagiri. It’s largely a day hike, which you can do within a day and come back home. Bangalore trekkers can take advantage of this.
The beautiful multiple farmlands, untried dense forest trail full of flowers and butterflies, a pretty isolated temple, and a spectacular view of mountain ranges are all you can expect from the Musattu hill trek.
Starting point of the trek: Varatanapalli, Krishnagiri
How far is it from Chennai: 255 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/9KCGfidm3Mq7PEkn7
You’ll find all details about the trek here: https://indiahikes.com/musattu-hill-trek
A view of the Musattu Hill in Krishnagiri. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
3. Parvathamalai Trek
Parvathamalai Trek is one of the most sacred and exciting treks in southern India. It is an Eastern ghats trail that falls inside the Parvathamalai reserved forest, within the Kanchi section of the Pudupalayam range.
The trek is known for its rough and challenging terrain that gives trekkers an adrenaline rush. Trekkers also love the expansive and serene views of the Eastern ghats they get to experience as they make their way to the top.
Interestingly, it is believed that the hill is a piece of the Sanjeevani Mountain that Lord Hanuman carried to revive Lord Laxman.
Starting point of the trek: Thenmathimangalam, Tiruvannamalai
How far is it from Chennai: 226 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/
You’ll find all details about the trek here: https://indiahikes.com/parvathamalai-trek
A wide view of the Parvathamalai hills in the Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Top 3 Monsoon Treks Around Delhi:
Since Delhi weather is still at a steaming 34°C, we’re suggesting treks that are an overnight journey to the foothills of the Himalayas. You can do all these treks over a weekend and be back home for a working Monday.
1. Benog Tibba
This trek has become a favorite at Indiahikes because of the dense forest cover, which gives you shelter, come rain or sun. It’s a short day hike in Mussoorie Wildlife Sanctuary.
Right from the very start, you are in the wilderness. Trekking through lush green forests teeming with birds. The fatigue of an otherwise steep trail doesn’t set in because of these settings. You could cover the trek in a single day, or you could explore a slightly longer route over two days.
Starting point of the trek: Forest Checkpost, Benog Wildlife Sanctuary
How far is it from Delhi: 316 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/b6F6MTPmgNx8GkMz8
You’ll find all details about the trek here: https://indiahikes.com/benog-tibba-trek
(We do run this trek at Indiahikes, but you can easily do it on your own too.)
Watch here what our founder, Arjun Majumdar has to say about Benog Tibba Trek
The forest sections of the Benog Tibba trek are the best part of the trek. Picture by Jothiranjan
2. Sainj Valley
Trekking inside Great Himalayan National Park is a privilege. It is one of the most pristine and uniquely rich ecosystem in the world. So much so, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And because of its unique protected status, not only are the rich flora and fauna of the park undisturbed, so are the communities living inside it. And the Sainj Valley trek takes you right to the heart of this!
Given the forests, the grasslands, views and the lake on this trek, in the foothills of the Himalayas, it seems like a trek that’s too good to be true on a weekend.
Starting point of the trek: Shangarh, Kullu
How far is it from Delhi: 500 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/dL78W8qUEYa4oFTM8
You’ll find all details about the trek here: https://indiahikes.com/sainj-valley-trek
A view of the Pundrik Lake in Sainj Valley. The lake almost always remains invisible under the thick growth on the surface. Picture by Braham Ghairola
3. Nag Thatch
This is one of our most recently documented treks. It’s a lovely day hike near Dehradun well suited for families with children. We actually discovered this trail thanks to the Forest Department of Uttarakhand, Bhadrigaad Division, who invited us to explore the region around Saindul.
The Nag Thatch trek overlooks the famed Nag Tibba trek, but it takes half the effort to give you the same views that you get from the top of Nag Tibba. Apart from the big mountain views, the trek also has pretty meadows of Nag Thatch and Sur Thatch (Thatch is a local word for ‘meadow’) that are lush green in monsoon.
Since you cannot camp anywhere on the trek, you will have to treat this as a day hike and arrange your stay somewhere around Dehradun or Mussoorie.
Starting point of the trek: Saindul, Tehri Garhwal
How far is it from Delhi: 345 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/oDRReNoc1fN9mhU46
You’ll find all details about the trek here: https://indiahikes.com/nag-thatch-trek
The Nag Thatch trek gives you the incredible views that Nag Tibba gives you, but with just half the effort. Picture by Mahipal Bisht
Top 3 Monsoon Treks Around Kolkata:
Disclaimer: I’ll be frank here. Our documentations of treks around Kolkata are not very strong. If you think you can help us update the information in these documentations, please get in touch with me. It will help other trekkers greatly.
1. Biharinath Hill Trek
Biharinath is a hill sandwiched between the Purulia Hills and Damodar River. It towers over tiny tribal villages. With a combination of a famous Lord Shiva temple, dense sal forests, mountains, some rock climbing, and refreshing springs, this area on the outskirts of the city has a lot going for it.
It’s a trek that can be done at any time of the year, but is especially luxuriant during monsoon. It’s a trek you can wrap up within 3 hours, so it makes for a wonderful day hike. It is even suited to families.
Of course, you would know that this region is more prone to rain than most other regions of our country, so ensure you always have rainwear on you!
Starting point of the trek: Biharinath Temple, Saltora
How far is it from Kolkata: 228 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/B7C4ZEkr5YnZLVHM7
You’ll find all details about the trek here: https://indiahikes.com/biharinath-hill-trek
A view of the Biharinath Hill in the distance. Picture by Suvodip Chakraborty
2. Ayodhya Hills
When it comes to trekking around Kolkata, Purulia is one of the first regions that comes to mind. These hills are known for their green cover, which is amplified during the monsoon season.
This particular trail was once considered a hot spot for rock climbers, it has now become popular among trekkers and travelers alike. The unique rugged characteristics of the mountains blend beautifully with the canopy of greenery that Purulia is famous for. You also come across a beautiful Tarpaniya Lake, which adds to the beauty of the trek.
Starting point of the trek: Kishore Bharati Ashram School, Sirkabad
How far is it from Kolkata: 354 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/4GJb1Ae8btvnwbdw8
You’ll find all details about the trek here: https://indiahikes.com/ayodhya-hills-trek
The Ayodhya Hills in Purulia are a lush green during monsoon. Picture source: Wikimedia Commons
3. Mulkarkha Lake, Sikkim
If you have a slightly longer weekend, this trek in Sikkim to the Mulkarkha Lake is a beautiful one. It’s rare to have a trek that will give you glimpses of peaks like the Kanchenjunga over just a weekend.
The trek to Mulkarkha lake goes through small villages of Jhusing, Tagathan, Mularkha and Aritar on the borders with Sikkim-West Bengal. There are dense forests, streams and waterfalls along the way. In monsoon, you can expect the forest trails to be a bit muddy and slushy. You can either do this trek within a day, or you can spread it over two days by staying in the home stays along the way.
Starting point of the trek: Rhenock
How far is it from Kolkata: 670 km
Best way to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/Jioq6eUZp7uAWzWz5
You’ll find all details about the trek here: https://indiahikes.com/mulkarkha-lake-trek
The Mulkarkha Lake in Sikkim. Picture by Sushobhan Roy
That brings me to the end of this list. I’m hoping to continue to add more and more to this list, from different states as well.
But if you are looking for treks near your city, you can check our Trek Library as well - https://indiahikes.com/do-it-yourself-treks
If you need specific recommendations, don’t hesitate to ask us. You're welcome to give us a call, or write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, if you can help us document these treks further, or new treks that trekkers can do on their own, do apply to be a Remote Trek Documenter.
It will greatly help us take DIY trekking forward in our country!