| Recently I have been reading a lot about ‘Third Things’ in newspapers and social networking sites. These are things that people do as a hobby or liking, apart from their work and family. These could be anything from writing, painting, photography, long drives, singing, dancing, etc. One of the things in this long list is also hiking, trekking and adventure sports. With health and fitness becoming a big part of the lifestyle these days, hiking and exploring new places is easily becoming an activity people love to do. Hence I got in touch with few friends who like to take out time during their weekend for these kinds of fun trips. Hence sharing few places that were suggested to me:
Shilonda is known as the highest point of Mumbai. Monsoon is perhaps the best time to take a walk in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) at Borivali, when the first few monsoon showers have washed the dust off the trees, the jungle shimmers with varied hues of green, and the streams and rivers are bubbling with crystal clear water. An invigorating walk for one, sightings of rare birds or everyday domestic scenes in the animal kingdom, the feel of the jungle and oneness with Nature make this place a must see place for nature lovers. The place is very easily accessible from any corner of Mumbai by trains, buses and cabs. The entry fee (without a car and for non-commercial photographers) is a mere Rs. 20/- (less than half a dollar!). The park touches most of the Northern suburbs of Mumbai.
Kondhane Caves are ancient Buddhist caves of 200 B. C. period. The Caves consist of Chaitya Gruh (the main Chaitya Hall) and Viharas ( rooms for Biddhist Monks). All are carved out in the rock. During the south-west monsoon period, particularly in the months of July, August, one can see beautifull waterfalls here. This is a monument worth visiting. The main approach to this monument is from Karjat Railway Station (on the Mumbai - Pune Railway route. From Karjat there is an all weather road upto village Kondhane. From Kondhane one has to climb up the hill (about 3 k.m.) to reach Kondhane Caves. The Kondana caves enclose sculptures, vihara, cahitya and stupas, specimens of ancient Buddhist architecture. Although there was an earth quake in the early 1900s many stupas, the front entrance and the floor of the caves were damaged. But what remains intact is the beatuful Chaitya that welcomes you to the rock cut caves that were created around 200 BC - 100BC.
Take a bus or rickshaw (Rs.150 - Rs.200) from Karjat to Kondivade village and from Kondivade proceed to Kondane or Kharvandi village as from both these villages the Kondana caves are a one hour walk. The other way is from the Ulhas valley, get to Thakurwadi railway station from Pune/Mumbai. From here you can proceed to the famous valley of Ulhas River. A road to left from Ulhas river goes straight to Kondhane caves. Ulhas valley is a scenic trek besides waterfall and wildflowers.