Mumbai is enjoying that rare season of winter for a few days. Before this pleasant spell of cool recedes, you should plan a weekend trek to the Western Ghats! If you happen to be close to Panvel, I have a nice little hike for you that'll give Matheran a run for its money. You no longer have to put up with crowded streets full of pony-ride vendors or return with your shoes coloured blood-red (thanks to the red mud of Matheran). Panvelites can now breathe some fresh in less than an hour's drive on a trek that begins from the base village of Prabalgad.
Where Is Prabalgad?
Prabalgad lies in Maharashtra's Raigad district at a distance of 15km from Panvel (nearest railway station) and 27km from Mumbai (a 90-minute drive). If you trek in monsoon, the roads can be a bit muddy and slippery, so make sure wear hiking shoes with good grip. After you've parked you vehicle at the base of the hills, you will notice a pointed peak next to a plateau-like range. The plateau is Prabalmachi, and the peak, Kalavantin.
The destination is clearly visible from the base, and it looks almost impossible to scale so great a height (2,300 feet). This hike takes roughly 3 hours each way (excluding breaks), so start early. The trek is easy, with gentle inclines and steps (formed by rocks). But it can be a bit tiresome for those who don't walk very often. So, take a lot of short breaks to catch your breath and take pictures.