The only Coffee Estate in Maharashtra Chikhaldara

Located in the central region of Maharashtra which is actually an equatorial belt with extreme temperatures, Chikhladara surprises the wary tourist with sights far beyond the ordinary.

The only coffee plantation estate in Maharashtra, it is one of most beautiful and yet offbeat destination in the state rising to a height of 1080m. One can reach by road to Chikhaldara by road from Amravati.

The deep misty valleys of Chikhaldara has a new shade in every fold unwrapped. It is located in Amaravati district of Vidarbha region. The only hill station in the Vidarbha region offers you an abundance of wildlife, viewpoints, lakes and waterfalls. It has many things to explor.

Full of deep valleys, and these valleys are full of velvet mist and majestic trees. It is situated at an altitude of 1,118 m. This valley is the only coffee-growing area in Maharashtra. All this makes it a very popular summer retreat. With abundance of natural scenery, exciting wildlife, breathtaking waterfalls and a placid lake, the beauty of Chikhaldara is overwhelming. The climate is always breezy and walking on the clouds often becomes a reality.
Places of interest Places of interest in and around Chikhaldara are the Melghat Tiger Project, Dhakana-Kolkaz National Park, Hurricane Point, Prospect Point, Devi Point, Gavilgad and Narnala Fort, the Pandit Nehru Botanical Gardens, the Tribal Museum and the Semadoh Lake.

The Melghat Tiger Project has 82 tigers1 and also houses other animals like panthers, sloth bears, sambar, wild bear, and wild dogs. The scenic beauty of the misty mountains with rich variety of flora from Hurricane Point, Prospect Point, and Devi Point. Excursions to Gavilgad and Narnala Fort are also memorable ones. The mystery of nature unfolds itself in every twists and turns of the hilly way. Weather Oct – Feb: Cool and crisp. Temp in Dec-Jan Period is well below 10 deg C. Winter Clothing is necessary. March – Mid June: Warm in day and cool in the evenings. Comfortable summer clothing. But carrying a jacket/shawl is advisable for nights.
July – Sept: Monsoon Time. Carrying rain gear is recommended. Also advisable to carry warm clothing for evening.

Khajjiar – Mini Switzerland of India 

Khajjiar is a hill station in Chamba district, Himachal Pradesh, India, located approximately 24 km from Dalhousie.

It sits on a small plateau with a small stream-fed lake in the middle that has been covered over with weeds. The hill station is surrounded by meadows and forests. It is about 6,500 feet (2,000 m) above sea level in the foothills of the Dhauladhar ranges of the Western Himalayas and peaks can be seen in the distance.

It is part of the Kalatop Khajjiar Sanctuary. Khajjiar can be reached from Dalhousie, the nearest major town and hill station, by bus in an hour or so. It has a rare combination of three ecosystems: lake, pasture and forest. On 7 July 1992, Mr. Willy T. Blazer, Vice Counsellor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by calling it “Mini Switzerland”. He also put a sign board of a yellow Swiss hiking footpath showing Khajjiar’s distance from the Swiss capital Bern-6194 km. Khajjiar is among the 160 locations in the world that bear topographical resemblance with Switzerland. The counsellor also took from Khajjiar a stone which will form part of a stone collage around the Swiss Parliament to remind the visitors of Khajjiar as a Mini Switzerland of India.

There is a hotel and some cottages run by HP Tourism at Khajjiar where the tourists can stay. Besides that, there are two rest houses one each of P.W.D. and Forest Deptt. A couple of private hotels have also come up, which do not match the above places in terms of location and amenities. Most tourists travel to Khajjiar by private or rented vehicles. Bus service to and from Khajjiar is limited and timing changes according to local demands. The best entertainment in Khajjiar is to walk around the lake or to go for long walks in the thick pine forests. Children enjoy this place because of the freedom of movement and the sloped terrain which permits them to roll down to the lake without getting hurt.

Another attraction is horse riding. Dauladhar Mountains: Dense deodars, pines and lush green meadows are characteristic of Khajjiar. Since Khajjiar is situated at the base of the Dauladhar Mountains, the tourists here can get panoramic views of the mountains. Khajjiar Lake is a small lake, surrounded by saucer-shaped lush green meadow and a floating island. The dense growth of weed called vacha has made its earth spongy. Now the banks stand covered by a thick layer of earth, formed by the years of dust settling down on the weeds.

Kaas Plateau – Valley of flowers

Kaas plateau is a plateau located around 25 km from west of Satara in Maharashtra state. It falls under the Sahyadri Sub Cluster of the Western Ghats, and it became a part of a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 2012. Plateau is situated at an altitude of 1200 metres. It is approximately 10 square kilometers in area. Plateau is rich in its Bio-diversity. Many species are observed on plateau which are new to the Botanical Science.

Many of the endemic, endangered plants are found on Plateau. More than 850 species of flowering plants are reported on the plateau. 624 species have entered in the Red Data Book. The major portion of the plateau is reserve Forest. Plateau is largely formed of basalt which is directly exposed to atmosphere. The plants growing on Kas plateau are typically of herbaceous nature of like grasses. The small shrubs and trees are located at the periphery of the plateau at Kaas plateau.

These high hill plateaus and grasslands turns into a ‘valley of flowers’ during monsoon season, particularly from August to early October. Kaas Plateau has more than 150 or more types of flowers, shrubs and grasses. The orchids bloom here for a period of 3–4 weeks during this season. Kaas plateau is a World Natural Heritage site. To control possible damage by tourists, the number of visitors to the plateau has been restricted to 3,000 per day.

There are two ways to reach Kaas. One the more direct way from Satara and another from Tapola via the link road connecting Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani to Kas Pathar. Kas plateau is 20 km away from Northern part of Koyana Sanctuary. Distance from main cities to Kaas Plateau: From Satara – 25 km From Pune – 125 km From Mumbai – 280 km From Kolhapur – 150 km

Exciting Konkan Rail Journey in Monsoon

Konkan railway route is full of scenic landscapes, ranging from tunnels, bridges, coastal peripheries, steps of Western Ghats (popular as Sahyadari), innumerable small rivers, seasonal streams and lush green meadows. Do not forget to take out your handicam or camera and capture the highlights of stunning Indian train journey.

Konkan Railway traverses along the picturesque west coast having varieties of flora and fauna. The natural beauty of region complemented with elegant man made structures will make the journey over Konkan Railway into memorable experience for the passengers .The shortened time span, easy accessibility of historical , religious spots and to beaches along the picturesque coastline of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka states ,will contribute to a booming tourist trade.

The ride on Konkan railway is always beautiful, but in monsoons, the waterfalls on long stretches of western ghats can simply take your breath away. There are several waterfalls that you can get a glimpse of while on Konkan railway journey. Mostly they are seasonal and depending on the rainfall during the season.

The train chugged along, passing through tunnels, over rivers that looked more like backwaters and through narrow openings in the hills. Waterfalls graced both the sides making it difficult to decide which side to look at. There are vast stretches of green dotted with water bodies. It is fun to get in and get out of tunnels.

Best Monsoon Destinations in India

Monsoons are here and it is best time to enjoy away from the city, in the cradle of nature. So pack your bags and head to the undiscovered corners of the country where you can enjoy monsoon at its best.

Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra
Situated about 700m above sea level, this hill station explodes with waterfalls, come monsoon season. The lakes swell with water, the mountains are cloaked in fog, the roar of waterfalls is lovable music to your ears. The valleys and forests of Malshej Ghat are freshly green and if the rain seems to have abated for a while, getting out with a picnic blanket and a basket of goodies would be a good idea.

Saputara, Gujarat
Saputara is a splendid location for those who like to combine their love of monsoon with adventurous fun. There is a month-long Monsoon Festival organised here and it is a combination of activities, games and cultural programs.

Shivanasamudra, Karnataka
Shivanasamudra town is located on the banks of the River Kaveri. It is a home to a number of lovely waterfalls. The popular ones among them are Gaganachukki and Shivanasamudra waterfalls. Once the rains arrive, these swell up in might and makes for a great experience.

Ashtamundi Lake, Kerala
Eight channels come together to form Ashtamudi Lake and this is one of the best experiences of the backwaters of Kerala. You can stay in quaint cottages that overlook the seemingly endless lake, and watch the patter of raindrops.

Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
This is a small town of temples and forts built at the beginning of the 16th century by Raja Rudra Pratap. Orchha is also home to a wildlife sanctuary with a river flowing in its midst that will be brimming with water during this season. Monsoon is magical here and there’s nothing comparable to exploring ancient forts as the rain comes pelting down on you.

Ranikhet, Uttarakhand
The place offers majestic views of the Himalayas. If that isn’t enough, then imagine the verdant greenery of the valleys and forests. Pleasant climate, the beauty of the surrounding hills and ease of access to the Valley of Flowers makes this a wonderful monsoon holiday destination.

Bishnupur, West Bengal
Bishnupur gets its name from Lord Vishnu, the prominent deity of the rulers of the Malla dynasty that ruled the region during the 16th century. The town is famous for the innumerous terracotta structures. The temples and other buildings are a huge draw for people, whether for religious or architectural purposes. Around August every year, the monsoons are in full swing, washing clean the terracotta structures. The brick-red buildings are a stark contrast to the bright greenery all around.

Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Ziro is famous for its picturesque landscapes. Though located in a valley, it is over 5500 feet above sea level and has stunning views of mountains all around. With rice fields throughout the valley and the mountains looming over it, the village almost seems like a bowl of vibrant green beauty.

Majuli, Assam
Majuli is an island that experiences the force of the powerful Brahmaputra. Despite being the world’s largest river island, every year when the monsoons hit the river manages to encroach on to the land mass creating beautiful islands.

Mawsynram, Meghalaya
The clouds that roll over Mawsynram are thick, dark and bursting with raindrops. Located on the slopes of the Khasi hills, and being one of the wettest places in India, the monsoon season here brings a sudden outburst of waterfalls all around.

Trekking Destinations in Maharashtra for Monsoon Enthusiast

If you are a trekking enthusiast, monsoon treks will definitely delight you. The beautiful nature after a few spells of rain, fascinate every passionate treker to experience it.

Lohgad Fort is not too far from Lonavala which means you can get here in just few hours, if you reside in Mumbai or Pune. Located in the Western Ghats, the fort is around 1,052 meters above the sea level (3,450 feet). The trekking here is good enough for first timers who don’t want to push their limits, but would want to experience the same fun that trekkers do.

The fort is easily accessible and therefore all you have to do is be careful to ensure you don’t slip on the rocks. The fort overlooks the Pavana reservoir. On the way up, trekkers will find lot of history as there are many structures within the fort that are still intact. Keep an eye on the moss growing on the rocks that can lead to accidents.  Reaching the top, you can enjoy the misty environment all around and a great view of the Pavana Lake and the mountains around.

Korigad Fort trek is another worth mentioning destination that first time or basic level trekkers can try out. It is a bit isolated from the main highway and therefore it is ideal if you have a car. It is located in Peth-Shahpur village close to the Amby Valley. The terrain here is not difficult and therefore it offers lot of fun and excitement without any risk factors.

You can choose the Peth-Shahpur route to climb up which makes it easier during the monsoon. There is one more alternate route, but during the monsoon season that terrain can be unforgiving and dangerous. When you reach the top, you can enjoy the nice view of the surrounding mountains and the temples and ponds located at the top of the fort. The fort is around 3,050 feet above the sea level offering a panoramic view.

Kamshet is the place near Lonavala. If you catch a local train from Lonavala, it would take you hardly 15 minutes. Tikona Fort is at a higher level so if you love to trek up higher this is the place to be. The fort is easily accessible and therefore you don’t have to put too much of effort finding it. Take the route for the Gavhande village and you will find a way to the Tikona Fort along with its twin fort – Tung Fort.

This probably will slow down the trek and it takes around couple of hours to reach the top. Check out the temples and caves when you reach at the top. The narrow passages between the fort walls makes the entire trek experience even more exhilarating.

If you want to push your limits, Torna Fort trek is something that can offer you complete satisfaction. The fort is easily accessible, but the trek route poses certain amount of challenges, therefore trekkers need to be cautious while climbing this terrain. While the initial climb is fairly easy, it gets harder and harder as you progress higher. The fort is located 4,610 feet above sea level. It is one of the highest fort in the Pune district.

The final part of the climb has rocky patches and that is where you will need to slow down and take things pretty seriously, especially if you are a basic level trekker. During the monsoon, the rocks tend to slippery and the growing moss can only make conditions worse. Take your time and help out each other to get to the top without any injuries.
Nestled between Matheran and Panvel, Prabalgad Fort trek is quite a challenge during the monsoon period. At the elevation of 2,300 feet Prabalgad Fort is a great trekking destination in Maharashtra. The fort is visible from

Mumbai-Pune Expressway. When you’re heading to Prabalgad you might also come across dense forest at the foot of the hill. Crossing the dense forest on the foot brings you closer to the nature.

The fort is closer to the Mumbai city. Once you reach the top, you can see the Mumbai city at the horizon. If you want to save time on your journey, you can definitely pick Prabalgad Fort. Right next to the Prabalgad Fort is Kalavantin Durg, one of the most mysterious places in India. You can explore if you want to take some challenge during the monsoon.