The Mahuli Trek is popular amongst enthusiastic rock climbers and and also corporate professionals looking for some adventure, due to its proximity to the city. It is a complex group of hills which share pinnacles and cors. Mahuli, being at the highest altitude in the Thane district, gives you a birds’ eye view of the landscape below. Plan this trek in the monsoons to enjoy the cool breeze
The trek is much loved due to the lush green forest and meadows around. It is a spectrum of green and surprises you with its landscapes.
The Mahuli Trek begins at the Mahuli Fort base. Here you can visit the local temple where you will find a map of the trek. Finish you darshan and start the trek early with an enthusiastic “Ganapathy Bappa Morya”
A History lesson
Mahuli’s historical significance lies in the the various eras of rulers who have ruled here. Beginning with the Moghuls who created the fort, it came under rule of Nijamshahi dynasty in 1485. It was later on won and sacrificed by Shivaji Raje twice, passing it back to Moghuls in the ‘treaty of Purandar’. In 1670, when Gaud was in charge of the fort, Marathas attacked the fort again, but ended up losing a gem, Sardar Kadam, later named ‘Sonare’ (Gold of Swarajya) by Chatrapati Shivaji Raje. By mid-1670, the fort was conquered by Moropant Pingle and added to Swarajya. Around 1,700 different climbing pinnacles surround this fort, making it a fort worth fighting so much for. It also is the highest fort in Thane district, and since a lot of the fortification still remains, it is quite an attraction for history lovers.
Mahuli Trek Guide
- Time taken: 2 hours to ascend from Mahuli fort base + 45 minutes to descend
- Trek gradient: Easy. Couple of gradual ascents for about 40 minutes each followed by short level walks. Final section is a steep ascent
- Water sources: None. Carry 2-3 litres of water
- Altitude: 2,815 ft
- Starting point: Temple next to the Mahuli Fort Base
The Mahuli trek begins with a train journey to Asangaon from Mumbai. The base of Mahuli fort is where the trek begins. This is a short ride from Asangaon station.
Take the trail going towards the right side of the temple, and reach the Mahuli Trek and Tourism Centre. That’s the main entrance to Mahuli’s jungle area. Ahead lies the trail, which is covered with trees almost all the way. You will pass a village soon after. The villagers are warm and helpful and you can hire a guide or buy food from them. Since the trail is straightforward, you might not require a guide. You will come to a river crossing within 10 minutes of starting the trek. During monsoons it is difficult to predict the force of the flow, so tread carefully. (2019 Update: A bridge has been constructed over the river to aid crossing in monsoons.)
After the river, the trail begins to ascend gradually through zig-zag routes on a small hill. This leads towards Mahuli. In about 30 minutes, you will reach a clearing where the trail flattens out. Ahead, at a short distance, is the next ascent. This stretch is similar to the previous one – you will gradually ascend through the jungle for 30-40 minutes and reach another clearing where the trail eases. This is a good point to take a break, if you wish.
From here on, the trek gets steeper and a few slippery patches need to be crossed. You will begin to get views of Mahuli’s well known pinnacles on your left.
The final patch of this fort arrives after a small clearing, which takes about half an hour to climb. The top has a beautiful Gate-like structure, in the fort’s wall. The trek ends here, but you can spend time exploring the fort. There is a Shiva temple if you walk towards the left. It is under a huge tree and was probably built by villagers many years ago. If you go further ahead, you will find remains of the original fort wall. To the right, are a few caves – if only they were better maintained!
The descent is on the same route. It doesn’t take too much time but you need to watch out for loose pebbles and slippery patches, especially in the monsoon. You can grab a bite at one of the village houses and head back to Asangaon.
To sum it all up, Mahuli Fort is an easy monsoon trek. The trail is well defined with no tough patches on the route. It can be enjoyed by beginners and experienced trekkers alike.
The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too. Strength This is another area you should work on. You will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
Since the Mahuli fort trek is a day trek, here are the bare essentials that you must carry –
- 10-20 litres backback
- 2-3 litres of water
- Snacks/dry fruits/packed lunch – do not litter on the trail. Carry a small bag to collect your food wrappers and dispose it in a dust bin once you’re back at the base.
- Poncho or raincoat if you are headed there in the monsoon
- Suncap and sunscreen lotion if you are headed there in any other season
- Water resistant shoes with a good grip
- Mosquito repellant
- Wear full sleeved shirts and full length trousers to prevent bruises and insect bites
Learn how to pack for longer weekend treks:
No, stuffing it all in isn’t the right way to do it Packing a backpack correctly saves precious time that you might waste trying to find your things later. It is wise to spend some time on learning what really goes into packing a backpack.
What should I pack? On a trek, you only get what you take. Something as simple as a forgotten matchbox can cripple your cooking plans throughout the trek. So, it’s essential to prepare early and prepare well. To begin with, make a checklist. While shopping, remember this thumb rule – keep it light. “Every item needs to be light. This ensures that your backpack, on the whole, stays light,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes. Balancing out heavy items with light ones isn’t going to have the same effect as having all light items. “Always opt for good quality, light items,” says Sandhya.
How much should my bag weigh?
“Your backpack for a weekend trek should weigh between 8 and 10 kg,” explains Arjun Majumdar, co-founder of Indiahikes, “To break it down, your tent should weigh around 2.5 kg, your sleeping bag, around 1.5 kg, and the ration, stove and clothes should constitute the other 5 kg.” The best way to plan is by concentrating on the basic necessities – food, shelter and clothes. Gather only those things that you’ll need to survive. Do not pack for ‘if’ situations. “That’s one of the common mistakes that people make – packing for ‘if situations’. It only adds to the baggage that you can do without on a trek,” says Sandhya.
One good way to go about it is to prepare a list of absolute essentials. Start with the most essential and end with the least essential. That way, when you feel you are overshooting the limit, you can start eliminating from the bottom. Another tip is to be smart while packing clothes. Invest in light. wash and wear fabrics. “Replace a sweater with two t-shirts,” adds Sandhya. Layering is the mantra when it comes to trekking. Refer to Sandhya’s clothes list to pack smart.
How to pack The thumb rule for this one is to eliminate air spaces. Make sure that everything is packed tightly, especially clothes and jackets, as they tend to take up maximum air space. Put in all the large items first. Then squeeze in the smaller ones in the gaps. This ensures minimum air space. A good way to pack clothes is by using the Ranger Roll method.
Where to pack Bottom Sleeping bag: Make this your base layer. Sleeping bags tend to be voluminous, but do not weigh much. They’re perfect for the bottom of the bag. Tent: Just like the sleeping bag, even tents are voluminous and light. Keep the tent poles separately and place the fabric at the bottom of the backpack. Middle Heavy jacket: Roll up the jacket in a tight ball and place it in the middle of the backpack, close to your back. The middle region of the backpack should always have the heaviest items. You can store other things like ration or mini stoves in the middle. Other clothes: Roll other clothes and place them in the remaining space, to fill air gaps.
Top Water: Water, although heavy, needs to be easily accessible. So put it in the top most region of your backpack. Medicine box: This is another component that you wouldn’t want to be scavenging for when in need. Poncho: It could rain at any time in the mountains. So, ponchos should be accessible easily. Also, having a waterproof poncho at the top of the backpack provides additional waterproofing to items in the bag.
Mahuli is easily accessible from Mumbai. The best way to reach there is to take a local train to Asangaon. Travel time from Mumbai CST is around 2 hours. It is a short drive from Asangaon Railway station to Mahuli fort. Autos and buses are easily available outside the station. You can also grab a snack outside the station before you proceed.