'20/Sep/2017'

If you want to get away from your monotonous routine and want to relax in nature and also have some adventure, why not try cave camping? Here’s the list of best cave camping sites near Mumbai and Pune.

1) Gorakhgad

It is amongst the very well-known forts in the trekking community. It offers an easy-medium hike for 2 hours approximately. One has to enter through the main gate which typically consists of rock-cut steps. For beginners, one or two patches might be difficult.After moving ahead a little, one comes across a beautiful ancient cave which can accommodate more than 50 people comfortably. There is an open space in front of the cave where one can find water cisterns.

Gorakhgad Caves

Villagers and trekking groups have been cleaning and maintaining these water cisterns. Those who have already trekked to Gorakhgad will recollect that there are markings for drinking water whereupon one can find an empty bottle attached with a rope near the source to draw out water hygienically. The villagers have also colored the caves and pillars which gives a different look to it. Overnight stay at the caves is a good and relaxing experience. The route is easy till the caves and becomes slightly difficult from there to the top but is still highly recommended for cave camping near Mumbai.

2) Lingana

Considered as the most difficult trek of Maharashtra, Lingana challenges you in all senses. There is small cave accessible while ascending. One has to be an expert in rock climbing and rappelling to enjoy their stay at the cave of Lingana. There is one water cistern carved in rock but the water is not potable. So make sure to carry a lot of drinking water and food to enjoy this cave stay.

lingana caves

It is said that at night, the staying experience gets scary and haunting stories make it worst. Sometimes these haunted stories seem to be real due to the history of Lingana. More than a fort, it was used as a jail during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji. It is said that during that time the jailor used to send prisoners on the cliff with a rope and a ladder. After reaching the top, the jailor used to remove the ropes and ladders and make sure that the prisoners starved to death! The caves provide a very good view of the valley and give a stunning view of RailingiPathar which feels similar to the Northen Wall portrayed in Game of Thrones!

3) Alang-Madan-Kulang

The trio, more popularly known as AMK is said to be another tough trek in Maharashtra due to climbing and rappelling patches at great heights. AMK stands for Alang-Madan-Kulang and can be accessed through various routes. Ascending Alang via Samrad village is a walk on the edge. Madan also offers a difficult climb as the wall of the steps was destroyed in cannon fire. There is a 50-60 ft. rock climbing patch that one has to cross in order to reach the top of Madan.

Alang-Madan-Kulang

There is a large, ancient cave, two water cisterns and one small tree at the top. The cave provides an accommodation capacity of 20 people approximately. It is very cold in the winter and hence a sleeping bag or a warm blanket is a must for cave camping at Madan. Water is available throughout the year except during the last months of summer. The cliff of Madan offers one of the best sunrise and valley views. Kalsubai peak is visible from the top. If one wants to reach Kulang caves directly, there is another route by skipping Alang and Madan. At the top of Kulang, there are many water cisterns. Cave camping at Kulanggives a chilling experience even in summer. At the end of summer, cloud formation during early morning is the best phenomenon to observe. Small Steps Adventures always arranges a batch consisting of 25-30 people and hires a local cook to prepare dinner at the top. A hot meal served in the cave after a hectic climb is always delicious and satisfying!

4) Ghangad

Ghangad Caves

It takes one and a half hours to traverse the easy trek to Ghangad. There is small cave which can accommodate a maximum of 10 people and offers an amazing view of the surroundings. Weather is pleasant throughout the year as the fort lies in the Lonavala region.  Pune trekkers usually try their hand at cooking while camping at Ghangad caves.

5) Thanale Caves

Thanale caves

Also known as Nadsur caves, these are a group of 23 ancient Buddhist caves located in the region of Raigad and are considered to be one of the oldest rock-cut caves in India.  The caves are believed to be 2,000 years old and silver coins dating back to Emperor Ashoka’s time have been found here. The trek begins from the village of Thanale and one gets to experience divine natural beauty in the form of a lush green forest, waterfalls and a grand view of the Sahyadris. At present, however, only six caves are accessible. The rest have been blocked due to a roof collapse and boulders. Head out to Thanale caves if you wish to have an awesome camping experience in a cave.

6) Harishchandragad

Situated in the Ahmednagar region, this fort is one of the most popular trekking destinations in Maharashtra. Harishchandragad fort is considered to be very ancient and the caves present in its vicinity are said to have been constructed in the 11th century. One can approach this fort through various routes but the route from Malshej Ghat is considered to be the easiest.

Harishchandragad caves

Arrangements can be made to spend the night either in one of the caves or at the temple which is maintained by the villagers. Wake up extra early the next morning and head to Taramati, the highest point of Harishchandragad in order to experience the ethereal sunrise. Do not miss the famous Kedareshwar cave and the view from the Konkan Kada. If you happen to visit in mid-May, you may be lucky enough to witness a rare phenomenon - the Brocken Spectre, a perfectly circular and vividly colored rainbow!

7) Chanderi

Chanderi caves 

Chanderi is a fascinating fort which provides a satisfying and enjoyable experience to a trekker. Its solid square mastiff is visible all the way from Mumbai! A trek to Chanderi will be incomplete without exploring the caves located in its precinct.  The cave houses a desecrated idol of Lord Shiva and can also accommodate 8-10 people at a time.  There is a reservoir of drinking water near the cave. Another reservoir is located at the base of a pinnacle near the cave.  The area is also full of opportunities for rock climbing and offers a magnificent view of the surrounding forts of Matheran, Peb, Prabalgad, Siddhagad, and Peth.

8) Dhak Bahiri

Dhak Bahiri

One of the most difficult treks to tread is the trek to Dhak Bahiri. It is actually a cave and not a fort and is visited by adventure lovers who wish to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. One can access this destination from Karjat to the Sandshi via Khandpe where a complicated route leads one to the base of the cave. A series of rock-cut steps (blown up at some places) pave the path up to the cave. The cave has a temple dedicated to the local deity, Dhak Bahiri and women are forbidden to enter this temple. 

9) Kondana Caves

Kondana Caves

Nestled at the base of the Rajmachi fort, these are a group of Buddhist caves cocooned by the forest. The beauty of these caves is enhanced by the presence of waterfalls nearby. It is very easy to reach the caves and therefore is a very good cave camping option for beginners. If you are a history lover, be prepared to be fascinated by ancient carvings and sculptures! Another unique feature of Kondana Caves is the presence of special meditation pods which are a perfect place to meditate and search for that much needed inner peace!

10) Kothaligad  

Kothaligad caves

The fort of Kothaligad consists of one of the most beautiful caves along with carvings on the pillars. Windows let the light enter into the caves. The local villagers seem to be maintaining this cave very well. It is a good trekking option for solo travelers or small trekking groups to stay at night. Small Steps Adventures provides camping arrangement at the base village under an open sky with alpine tents!

11) Naneghat 

Naneghat caves\

A night trek to Naneghat is more popular during winters. One has to walk through a forested route near Malshej Ghat. It is said that it used to be a trade route where one had to pay taxes in the form of coins (meaning ‘Nane’ in Marathi), and hence the name Naneghat. After a climb of two and half hours, one can see a huge plateau where Small Steps Adventures arranges Naneghat trekking and camping. Though one can enjoy tent camping under the stars, there is another option of caves for an overnight stay. The caves are under observation and maintenance of local villagers. One has to ask for a key from a local house which is one kilometre away from the cave. Most of the travelers reach the caves by road from Junnar.

12) Khadsamble Caves 

This location is least explored cave by trekkers. Once, a luxurious monastery with contemporary artwork, it is mostly visited by hardcore trekkers and utilized as a camping spot today. These caves are said to have been constructed during 2nd century BC, abandoned around the 5th century AD and were later rediscovered in 1881.  While doing range trek most of the time people rest here instead of staying.

13) Ratangad Caves

Ratangad caves

Ratangad is the jewel of all the forts. It's very famous for its nedha (Needle Hole) and views of the valley. Amruteshwar temple at the base village Ratanwadi is a major attraction in and around Bhandardara lake. Night trek to Ratangad by Small Steps adventures gives a different experience of walking in the thick forest and staying at caves. One needs to be very careful from monkeys of Ratangad. There is small cave beside the main, where one can see the temple of goddess Ratanadevi. Katrabai view and sunset during the evening are memorable. One can easily spot AMK, Kalsubai, and Sandhan valley.

Planning to go for a trek? Contact Small Steps Adventures immediately!!