Kharghar is a part of Navi Mumbai, India. Those in Mumbai may frown a bit when I drop the ‘Navi’ and call Kharghar just a part of Mumbai, but for everyone else, it doesn’t matter much. A local train on harbour line from CST (ChattrapatiShivaji Terminus) station of Mumbai takes around one hour and fifteen minutes to reach Kharghar.
Technically, it is a valley surrounded by hills; hills with cute heights, not the high ones. The golf course and the Central Park opposite to each other are the lungs of this suburb. The south to north running hills along the golf course is known as the Kharghar Hills. These hills spring to life only during monsoon, in the months of June to mid October.
Our parents were worrying about our well being when the monsoon rains were lashing in Mumbai. We, on the other hand, were enjoying the best time of Mumbai, in terms of natural beauty of the Sahayadris.
Adventure on Kharghar Hills of Sector 35
Since the advent of monsoon we had been seeing several waterfalls plunging from the hills. I (Tania) am a huge fan of waterfalls. On a Sunday afternoon after overeating one of our favourite dishes, Biryani, we set out to chase the most popular waterfalls of Kharghar – Pandavkada.
The sky was grim with occasional clouds and downpour. We tried to reach the waterfalls through a village in sector 35 of Kharghar. Our good intentions were thwarted by a man who looked like a policeman. He communicated to us that people are not allowed to go to the Pandavkada waterfalls as it is considered too dangerous.
There was a hill to the right of us. We suppose the curvy hill of sector 35 is the northern-most end of the Kharghar hills. We don’t think the hills end, but it probably takes up a different name and runs in a different locality.
The base of the hill was very busy. Groups of friends and families were having monsoon themed photo sessions. We could have joined the majority, click selfies, do what normal couples do and returned back. Unfortunately, we are abnormal. Powered by a bulging stomach full of biryani, defying logic, we decided to climb up the hill to enjoy the view of Kharghar from the top.
As we climbed up, the crowd started thinning. We had to place our feet very carefully. The uphill way was extremely steep and terribly muddy. We had been regular in the gym since February 2017. Those 15 minutes of daily jogging on the treadmill saved us that day.
Kharghar, just like other surrounding areas of Mumbai, becomes pretty green during monsoon, but it is not the green of the trees. Mostly these are grasses. It can be compared with the knolls and prairies of the highlands.
My knees were at the verge of revolting when we finally reached the top. The top was very narrow. Through the curtain of mist, we saw what lay on the other side of the hill. A water body, which Google Maps told us was Owe dam, was visible. We saw villages and croplands by its side. On the opposite side of the hill were highrises. The contrast was so stark. It felt funny that we need to bend our heads down to see the ‘high-rises’. We enjoyed the bird’s eye view of the entire township of Kharghar.
The soft mistiness of the clouds changed into a stern grey. The sky was tinged in black and white. Strong winds started blowing. Soon we saw the clouds break loose over a distant part of Kharghar. We were still on the summit and thinking about ways to get down without dying. We literally saw the rain and clouds gradually moving northwards, towards us.
We knew it was impossible for us to get down before rainfall drenches us. We focused on finding the safest route. Rainfall would activate all the small streams and every slope would become a cascade. The trail which we took while climbing up would be extremely unsafe to climb down under rainfall. Due to the lack of plants and trees (only grasses grew in the area), the soil erosion was so very real over that stretch.
We decided to tread down through the curviest part of the hill. It was steeper with sharper drops but there were plants we could latch onto to prevent slipping. No, these hills are not deadly, but yes an accident could surely leave us with broken limbs.
Rain got the better of us within a few minutes of our downhill climb. The wind was making the rain fall horizontally. Like spears, those water droplets struck our skin. It felt like someone was pricking us a million times without any hint of humanity. Meanwhile, the streams were activated and we knew it could get worse if we didn’t hurry up. We knew how persistent the Mumbai rains are. If the rainfall continued for hours, it could bring a flashflood and we, mere humans dangling on shrubs from a cliff, would be washed away.
With a tummy full of biryani and heart full of fear, we completely gave up standing upright. We sat on the muddy slope and pushed our bodies with our forelimbs and hindlimbs, one at a time, quickly but carefully.
Fortunately, the rainfall stopped before we completed our downhill hike skirting over the four curves of the hill. After entering the safe zone, we spent time playing with the water of one of the streams. It was amazing to see thin water ribbons tumbling down the slopes. The clouds were still rolling. The entire place was shimmering with glittering greenery.
We feel there are locals who don’t fully appreciate the natural beauty of Kharghar. That includes people who live in the nearby areas and the main city of Mumbai. In monsoon, it is so romantic with all the greenery, waterfalls, clouds and peaceful ambiance. Not just romantic but it is also family friendly. We also wonder how come the potential of this place has not yet been tapped by some resort owner! Not that we are complaining, we love Kharghar exactly the way it is!
Are you a Mumbaikar? Have you been to Kharghar? How do you like monsoon in the Western Ghats? If you are a non-Indian, tell me if you want to visit this place!
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