It certainly cannot get more picturesque than this! This is the usually the kind of comment you would hear from tourists who flock to the Malshej Ghat once the monsoon has taken a firm grip over Maharashtra. The verdant landscape shouldered by the majestic ranges of the Sahyadris makes the entire setting a feast for the eyes. And never mind if you get soaked through and through. That’s the whole fun!
Malshej Ghat is often referred to as a rain traveller’s abode. In fact, many an intrepid traveller has always made it a point to have Malshej Ghat on the annual itinerary simply because the place offers a view that has no parallel. It is a mountain pass descending to the Konkan from the Desh, located about 154 km northwest of Pune, 164 km from Mumbai and 85 kms from Kalyan in Thane district. Here, the Sahyadri mountain range towers above everything else, dominating and influencing the environment, nature, history, economics and ecology of the state. The region is a trekker’s paradise with its extremely rugged and rocky hills on which you will come across forts, temples and ancient rock-cut caves.
At Malshej Ghat, it is just nature and you in perfect communion. The heavy downpour, the morning fog blanketing out everything else, the slight chill in the air and a lush green carpet as far as the eye can see is what makes this a perfect landscape. Mist swirls up from the valley and envelopes the tourist resort of MTDC while the clouds unfurl and the waterfalls cascade down in all their glory. While the ghat area is often dry through the year, the rains spark off a miraculous change in just a few days. The streams and ponds begin to gurgle afresh and flora and fauna comes to life as if from a spell of hibernation.
If you are travelling from Pune towards Nashik, you will come across Narayangaon and then reach Alephata, where you can take a breather before you proceed further towards Malshej Ghat. Even as you drive on the winding road towards the pristine ghat, there will be opportunities to pause along the way and absorb the rolling landscape and feel the surge of non-polluted air rushing through your body. For those interested in ornithology, the drive will also offer a chance to observe many birds flitting through the skies and camping on the mud flats.
Things to Do
When the rains visit Malshej Ghat, the birds arrive here in huge numbers. If you are a budding ornithologist or even with just a passing interest in feathery fauna, you will find here many opportunities to see the birds at close range. The one bird that you must especially watch out for is the flamingo. These are migratory birds and while they usually are to be found near the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, Malshej Ghat plays a privileged host.
Nothing like Naneghat
Prior to reaching the Malshej Ghat you will arrive at the massive and awesome Naneghat which has a natural dyke with two huge mountain blocks on both sides and a walking pathway made of crude steps of stone. This was an ancient trade route between Kalyan and Junnar and provides a panoramic view of the Sahyadri ranges. According to historical records, the pass was for traders to walk through. You can indulge here in photography with the towering peak of Kalsubai to the north and Bhimashankar to the south.
If trekking isn’t your cup of tea but finding solace in a quiet temple is, you must visit the temple of Ozar where Lord Ganesh is worshipped in his incarnation of Vighneshwar, the one who helps remove the obstacles or even go to Lenyadri known for its Girijatmak temple of Ganesh. For this one has to climb about 300 steps.
How to reach:
Nearest airport is Chatrapati Shivaji Intenational Airport at Mumbai.
Nearest railhead is at Kalyan.
Drive to Malshej Ghat via Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Vaishakhare.
Image & Information copyright by maharashtratourism.gov.in