After the wretched conditions of summer, monsoon was nearby. Sun had started playing hide and seek and it had already drizzled in Mumbai. So we could wait no more and hence planned night trek to Rajmachi in the first weekend of June.
The adventure began in Mumbai itself where we missed our train and later had to compensate by boarding the next train without any confirmed tickets. We reached Lonavala in the late afternoon, had lunch and started walking towards Tungarli dam. The weather was just right for trekking. Cool winds blowing with dark clouds hovering over the peaks raised our hopes for the rain.
After spending a quality evening at Tungarli lake, we continued our trek as we walked through the jungle and ghats.The grass and shrubs had already spread the greenery around; the fresh green leaves had begun to sprout as if waiting eagerly for the Gardener to water them so that they can grow more and make the place look more beautiful. The marks of the waterfalls on the mountains were letting us know how mesmerizing this place would be after the heavy rains.
Soon, the moon had taken over the sun. The torch lights lit up our way and we were anxiously looking for the fireflies. As they say, patience is required to welcome something good on our way. Our patience ended after an hour when we first encountered a firefly. Soon, it turned into multiple spottings as we continued to walk in the dark jungle. We took a halt, to look at them closely, closed our torch lights and lo! The whole jungle was lit up with fireflies. It seemed like someone had planned a secret party in the jungle with trees decorated with lights (could not click the night photos due to not having a good camera). It was 11 pm and the village was still half an hour away. Fearing that the hotels/ dhabas in the village would be closed by the time we reach there, left us bewildered. We had covered approx.15 km and now we were all hungry, walking like zombies in the hope to have food. But as we reached the village, we saw the place overcrowded. The trekker enthusiasts were more than the whole population of the village. People roaming around, some tents pitched up in a village and in the outskirts was the welcoming view of this small yet commercialized village. We had no difficulty in finding a dhaba at this time of the day. It was a home that served guests with home cooked food. The couple cooked for us in less than an hour. The food tasted divine and the warm welcoming filled our hearts with joy. We pitched our tents close to the village, enjoyed each other’s company with a bonfire that helped warm our flesh and bones as we prepared to climb fort (which is half an hour climb from the village) the next day.
The early morning climb witnessed fogs and the mist that enveloped the peaks but as the day progressed, the sun pierced through the clouds to give the beautiful panoramic view of the valley. We were lucky to get the clear view since it is difficult to get such view in monsoon due to mists and fog.
After descending from the fort by noon, we bathed in a lake and visited the age-old temple in Udhewadi village before heading back towards Mumbai.
It had started raining heavily on our return. The monsoon had finally arrived in full flow and what a way to welcome the first rains!
- One needs to reach to Udhewadi village which serves as the base village for Rajmachi fort. The fort is approx. 2km from Udhewadi.
- There are two ways to reach Udhewadi village.
- You can reach Lonavala and start from Tungarli Dam (6kms from Lonavala railway station). This route is a simple walk through the jungles providing the most beautiful view of waterfalls and meadows. It is a 15km long walk to Udhewadi village and is perfect for amateurs and for the night trek where one can witness fireflies in abundance. There are private vehicles running from Lonavala to Udhewadi village but only during post monsoons as the roads get worse in monsoon season.
- The alternate route is to reach Kondivade village in Karjat(near Mumbai) and start ascending to Rajmachi en route Kondhana Caves. This route is a steep 3hrs climb from the base. Generally, trekkers prefer to reach Udhewadi via Lonavala and descend through this route.
- Fireflies are visible in monsoons. The best time to witness fireflies is in the early week of June.
- Most favorable time to do this trek is during monsoon, i.e, from June to September.
- Accommodations and food are easily available which is provided by the locals who rent their own houses and also prepare food (rent starts from rs 300- 1000 depending upon the no. of people). They can also help you arrange firewood for the bonfire which may cost some extra bucks.
- An overnight trip to Rajmachi costs Rs 1000-1500 per person.
- There are many travel clubs conducting treks to Rajmachi throughout the year. You can enroll through them as well.
- Below are the links of the top travel clubs-