Like everybody else, I too eagerly wait for Sundays. Not for a calm, relaxing day but on the contrary, to have a day full of adventure. My Sundays are usually spent trekking and hiking. Maharashtra is beautiful and it gives travelers immense opportunities to explore the less explored.
There are an endless number of destinations to choose from for every travel type. Right from rappelling, camping, and scuba diving to coastline destinations for some relaxation, the state has it all!
Every Sunday calls for an outing and this weekend was no different. I was pumped up for my trek to Peb Fort, a part of the Matheran Hill Range in the Raigad District of Maharashtra. The fort is also named ‘Vikatgad’ and is one of the most beautiful yet challenging treks of the region.
The hill stands at a height of 2100 feet and is a medium-level route. However, you do need high endurance. I had heard a lot about Peb Fort and was really looking forward to being there. Now finally, the time had come!
My journey started from Dadar station like it does for most of the Mumbai residents. I had left home at 3 am with insufficient sleep to board a Karjat train scheduled at 5:06 am that would help me reach Neral, my destination at around 7:00 am.
These trains usually run late so it’s preferable to keep some buffer time. The two hours journey was dull and boring. However, it started to become better towards the end when the train left the city behind entering hilly terrains and lush green fields. Suddenly my energy had risen up and sleep vanished.
On reaching Neral station, I had to board a private vehicle; tuk-tuk as they call it, to reach the start point of the trek. It was just 20 minutes away and the time was utilized prepping up. Peb Fort is a famous trek in Maharashtra so I had fellow trekkers for the same adventure.
Suresh, the local guide gave basic instructions and explained to us the importance of keeping our body hydrated throughout. He confirmed if each one of us was carrying a minimum of 2 liters of water and electrolyte or Glucon D. He also asked us if we had any medical conditions.
It all went smooth and we began with our trek passing through steep slopes and tall bushes. We covered one-fourth of the journey without any rest. So far, the terrain was simple and easy to walk on. We could now see the base village from a certain height.
A few more steps led to a flat area of land where people were relaxing and took refreshment halt. Not being sure of how difficult or easy the route ahead would be, we continued to follow them. It was around 9 am and we could breathe some really fresh air.
Resuming our journey, we made our way to a dense forest full of rocks. After a point, the rocks became flat. But here, they were steep and had moss. The rain made it worse and crawling over the wet rocks became a task. Each step had to be taken carefully.
Fortunately, we were able to cross this path without anybody getting injured.
A few of us were ahead of the scattered group and reached a huge rock that had a rope with a loop on another end. Yes, we had to climb the rock using the rope. It seemed like a difficult climb and as one of us attempted but couldn’t succeed, we had no choice but to give up.
Soon after, Suresh reached there with a few other trekkers for our rescue. With his technique and guidance, we were able to pass the huge rock terrain. By now we had completed half the patch but our body demanded some rest.
We finally reached the hilltop covering some more distance. The view at the height of 2100 feet was mesmerizing. All we could see was fog. It was also very windy. The sight was totally worth the pain and difficulties we had undergone.
After spending some time there, we started descending taking the Matheran route. I thought the journey downhill would be easy. Little did I know, it was going to be tougher.
The soil had eroded, and the trails had become wet and slippery. It started to rain like cats and dogs. We reached a plateau region that was perfect for pictures with a 360-degree view of the Matheran Hill range. So we decided to spend some time there.
Next, we walked for hours on narrow trails, climbed loose metal ladders and came across a number of waterfalls and ridges. It was all very adventurous!
Within a couple of hours, we reached Matheran mini-train railway. It was a sigh of relief. Our legs had started to hurt. But it was just not the end yet! We had to walk for another 45 minutes to the main road. From there we could hire taxis that took us back to Neral railway station.
We started at 8 am and returned back at 5 pm. After feeding our tummies, we boarded our respective trains and left for home. I fear to recollect how crowded the trains were despite it being a Sunday!