A map of forts in Maharashtra for trekkers near Western Ghats

The smart folks at trekshitiz created this compilation of forts in Maharashtra. I’ve laid them all on this Google Map for ease of reference and planning.

List of forts for trekking in Maharashtra and Western Ghats.

Happy trekking in the Western Ghats/Sahyadris.

Share your trek stories in the comments below.

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Frequently asked questions for any hiking trail by organizers and trekker alike

The post lists the typical, frequently asked questions asked about any hiking trail to organize it, prepare for it, and understand it better.

Commute to base town, hire help, and find accommodation

  1. Reach the base village, say from Delhi
  2. Multiple trails to the summit.
  3. Cost of via personal car/bike and the cost via public transport
  4. Typical timings of public transport
  5. Book the bus/train tickets
  6. Teahouse trek or not
  7. Availability of gear on rent
  8. Distances between shelters or accommodations enroute
  9. Book accommodation, especially govt rest houses
  10. Cost of suggested accommodation
  11. Contacts of guides and porters
  12. Other local contacts like those of shopkeepers, rest house or guest house staff, bus inquiry, forest office, local police, local hotel in base village, etc.

Trekking and trail conditions

  1. A typical itinerary or two
  2. Child or elderly friendly
  3. Best approach if more than one approach
  4. Hike breakup and trek profile
  5. What to expect on the trail in each month like snow, lack of water, water crossings, whiteouts, wildlife, etc.
  6. Best time to be on a trail
  7. Typical night temperature in each season
  8. Packing depending on weather
  9. Sections that may need specific gear like crampons, shoes with ankle support, ropes, ice axe, etc.
  10. Distance and altitude difference between camping grounds and other waypoints
  11. Water availability
  12. Food availability
  13. Tricky portions and what’s required to negotiate
  14. Need a guide or not
  15. GPS logs
  16. Rating of trails on SAC scale

Safety considerations

  1. Time and milestone cutoffs on handy cards
  2. Local police contact
  3. Local shops
  4. Permanent, on-trail landmarks
  5. Water points on the trail
  6. Previously reported wildlife issues and season

Interesting facts and stories about the trek

  1. Geographic region and mountain range of the trail and summit
  2. Peaks and valleys visible from the summit and the trail
  3. USP and takeaway of the trek
  4. Any facts of historic, cultural, or political importance about the base village, the region or the summit
  5. Any mythological importance of the summit or the trail

Post-trek events

  1. Accommodation at the base village
  2. Public transport to return and where to book
  3. Timings of transport from nearest town and connecting conveyances
  4. Sync time to reach Delhi with office and metro timings
  5. Approximate breakdown of all involved costs

Leave your contact in comments if you want to based your frequently asked questions (FAQs) on this template. If you are a trekkers who finds it difficult to write a travelogue of your adventures, follow this structure.

Contacts of trek guides, porters, taxis, hotels, rental agencies, and other local service providers

A few of us trekkers have compiled contacts of local folks and services like porters, trek guides, cabs and taxis, and of accommodation, bus depot, etc. Please do your due diligence before agreeing to use the services. We do not recommend these folks in any way.

See the spreadsheet at bit.ly/travelcontacts. Locate the required info by using filters for type of service or trek.

If you wish to share the local contacts you have, please leave a comment or write to me at blackfog at Gmail. I shall list the contributors below for credits.

Thanks to the following folks for contributing to this list:

Trekking in Karsog and Janjheli valley and nearby

Mandi district is a hotbed for a host of activities. Karsog area near Mandi is a beautiful retreat for nature and culture lovers. The temples, the trails, the age-old architecture, the festivals, and the valleys makes me go here again and again. I am compiling a list of a few treks in this region.

The most popular treks in this region are to Kamrunag temple and Shikari Devi temple. A few lesser known hikes are also listed below and offer hiking through areas untouched by the crowds, at times good views of the snow-clad Himalayan ranges, and beautiful meadows.

  • Kamrunag temple or Kumarwah lake trek starts from Chail Chowk or Rohanda
  • Shikari Devi trek starts from Janjehli or Kataru
  • Budha Kedar trek starts from Bulah or Kataru. I wonder if it can start from Raigad for those who want to hike longer.
  • Mahunag temple is at a road head but there are trails to this temple that locals use
  • Dhamoon Tibba starts from Sainj Bagr
  • Jyuni Valley hike starts from Dhangyara, 20 km ahead of Chail Chowk
  • Janjehli to Karsog
  • Tungasi Dhar
  • Magru Gala hike near Chhatri
  • Gada Gushaini

Shikari Devi temple is a very long one-day hike or is better done with overnight stay/camping. However, others are easy day hikes with immense cultural exposure. Kamrunag is located in the .

A few other hills in the region are less popular and are not accounted for in popular posts on the Internet. There is a good scope of local exploration. The typical starting points of the popular treks are Sundernagar, Janjehli, Rohanda, Karsog, and Chail Chowk. These places are within a few hours of road distance from each other and are well connected by local buses. From Delhi, you can board a Mandi-bound bus and then use some local transport.

A very good account of winter trek to Shikari Devi is available at Inditramp website. The GPS trails of Shikari Devi are here and of Kamrunag is here.

Doing Kamrunag and Shikari Devi treks in one go

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Kamrunag lake and temple

The two most popular treks in this region — Shikari Devi and Kamrunag — can be combined into a weekend. Given the shortness and ease of these hikes, it may be more fulfilling to combine these. It’ll also save time and money.

On day 1, reach Rohanda, do Kamrunag, reach Karsog, and spend the night.
On day 2, start early on Shikari Devi trail; finish by evening; reach Mandi by night and board a Delhi-bound bus at night.

Notice the important transport timings from planning perspective.

  • 0700 – first bus from Sundernagar to Rohanda.
  • 1400 – 1800 A few buses ply from Rohanda to Karsog. However, better reach Chail Chowk and take a bus to Janjehli.
  • 1500 – 1800 Can get a local bus to Sundernagar or Mandi.

Another possibility is to reach Shikari Devi directly from Kamrunag instead of coming down and taking buses to either Karsog or Janjehli. This requires a ridge walk of a few km to reach Shikari Devi from Kamrunag lake itself. It is a well-trodden trail and has water for most months. Accommodation options are available at both the destinations.

Please share your experiences, queries, photos, basic information, local contacts, GPS logs, blog links, etc. in the comments section below.

Why they don’t want us to trek aka fears around outdoors?

“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

People who are not exposed to hiking and outdoors may have healthy wonderment, unjustified fears, malformed opinions, and outright crazy misconceptions about the sport.

To us hikers these comments seem ridiculous or have nuisance value, but the need of the hour is to educate people around us and to spread the awareness that the following are just misplaced and malformed.

5764026117_acbccfa5ea_nPhoto via sboneham is licensed under CC BY

 

  • Why trouble yourselves with so much exertion?
  • It takes much resources, time, and money.
  • What if you are attacked by a wild animal?
  • All the wild animals are out there to kill humans at first sight.
  • What if you are caught in a storm or a cloudburst?
  • How will you live without food for days?i
  • Trekking is for ‘them’ — the crazy ones who have no one to look after and have no loved ones to care about.
  • Even if you climb a hill, what will come of it?
  • If you don’t summit, it was a waste of time and resource!
  • Let’s go just like that, without preparation because I live in the hills so I must always be able to scale.
  • There are landslides in the hills! Like all the time.
  • Hiking is dangerous because of the horror stories we’ve read in the mass media.
  • Stop the silly business of going hiking because married people look after their families instead of wandering off on their own.
  • It is a boy’s sport!
  • Why torture yourself, now that you earn enough!
  • It is a remote place. What if the tribals catch you?!

Leave in comments section what you’ve heard as arguments against being out there with nature.

Set waypoints for these places of interests and facilities when recording a GPS trail

To make your GPS trails more useful for others, consider capturing the following information as waypoints. (Let me know in the comments if you’d like to know how to record GPS trails.)

Food, water, and shelter enroute

  • Drinking water sources
  • Water source that must be avoided for drinking
  • Temporary shelter, say from rain or snow
  • Camping spots and human settlements
  • Dhabas that offer food and dhabas offering bed too.

Places of interest on a trail

  • Trail to choose at bifurcations
  • Very sunny parts of a trail (need sun protection)
  • Unsafe ledges or cornices
  • Leech prone portions (need shoes and salt)
  • Sections with Bicchu booti (need full length trek gear for protection of lower legs)
  • Spots where wildlife is commonly spotted
  • Sections with tricky crossings (like slippery, mossy boulders during rainy season; may need guided help)
  • Secluded ponds on a stream where one can bath(!)
  • Flash flood prone areas adjacent to streams (need to be watchful during rains and to be passed quickly)
  • Very steep sections (need footwear with good grip and watch out during rains)
  • Sections with debris and moraine (need ankle support)

Consider sharing your trails for everyone’s benefit on wikiloc and OSM. Yours truly can be found at www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/user.do?id=1691516. If you share trekking trails on a public platform, leave a link in the comments section.

Optimizing your social media videos for maximum effectiveness

Who doesn’t love to share their story with the world?! Videos are an amazing medium as they have a very high bandwidth to convey our stories in a matter of seconds or minutes.

We travelers also use videos for sharing our experiences with the world, help our friends and readers do their share of armchair travel, for online reputation management, as an entry point to business conversion funnel, hone our skills at video production, to boost our social media presence, and so on.

There are those travels that I’ve conceptualized or managed completely based on the videos posted online. Then there are those few videos that have been a disappointment because those do not serve any purpose.

Self-deprecating disclaimer: It is subjective to speak of serving a purpose because even such videos clearly serve the purpose of making the creator happy. Being happy is an end in itself, because who am I to judge what rocks your boat 🙂 However, if you are the one who is looking at up-leveling the usefulness of your videos by conveying more in less, then this blog post is for you. I’m sharing my personal opinion on what makes a video useful to me. I shall try to be objective and give tangible points that you can understand without much wonderment.

When shooting/recording

  • Use both, the audio and the video channels in a video. When shooting, see if you can capture the speed of the wind at the top of a mountain to subtly convey how windy it was, the chirping of birds at the dawn to indicate how musical the mornings are, the raging sound of water to indicate how gushing the flow is, or record your own voice to convey more context and info than what’s recorded on video.
  • What is the neighboring area and its natural beauty? What does the terrain look like? What is the degree of climb? What are the nearby water sources if any? Where is the tree line? If it is rocky, then how difficult is it to walk on it?
  • What is the complete view of the object and not just a myopic, zoomed-in view of the activity you may be doing there. For example, if it is waterfall then move the camera a little to indicate the height of it, the force of falling water to indicate if one can bath under it, the outflow from the basin to indicate how fast the water is, the approach to the waterfall to indicate if it is risky or not to walk, speak out how cold the water is, and so on.
  • What is the roads’ tarring quality? What is the width of the road? What is on the sides of the road? How dense is the road because it’ll get darker faster in the evening than open roads. Very dense forests near the roadside means possibility of having wildlife at night on the road. All these parameters indicate the quality of drive and safety.

When uploading

  • Spend a minute to write a good title. All media hosting platforms allow you to update to a more meaningful name than the file name. Make sure to use a few keywords like place name, event name, what you are showcasing in the video, etc. in the title.
  • Do a dry run before uploading. Make sure the video is in the desired shape. Re-uploading video will change the URL so use this option only in dire straits.
  • Deleting older videos is a big NO. It will also change the URL and break the backlinks or embeds for your users.

When sharing

  • When sharing on a social media channel, be cognizant of the basic SEO like description, tagging, location, date, etc.

 


Work in progress — more tips to be added soon!