Do not take your spouse or companion to Khodala, unless of course you want to break off the relationship. This weekend destination without contest is meant for a bunch of friends who may or may not be divisible by two. What you do with your partner in the cottage is entirely your business. But what must still be said here is that Khodala offers a holiday meant only for a group of people who would like to stay up late in the night without television, roast food prospects in the fire and walk up and down uncharted hilly routes. Just like in your college days, when you actually made the effort to wake up at 5 am to climb up to Matheran with your mates.
There’s not much in Khodala apart from some breathtaking drives and wild animals that may want to meet you. But that’s everything you need to make your weekend ambitions come true.
Little-known Khodala is becoming more popular with Mumbaikars, so much so that groups on motorbikes have been known to do a punishing 3-hr drive — it’s quite hard on the buttocks — just for the quick fix of lush green on offer here. A walk in the hills around will take out all those kinks anyway, replacing them with new ones. And then comes the good part, as the discomfort of both new kinks and old are drowned in generous doses of alcohol around a jolly campfire with friends up in the hills of Khodala.
The only commonsensical way to reach Khodala is by car because the place demands flexibility of transport. Once here, head for Mountain Range, that is, if you have prior bookings.
Adventuring with Mountain Range
About 2 km from the market at Khodala, the camp is set on a small lush incline. Run by the Mumbai-based adventure group Time Pause, Mountain Range is not merely a place to find shelter and eat. The human body here is always egged on to attain greater heights. You can rappel down a rock cliff using a rope, or climb a net as they do during military training. There is also rock climbing and gardenvariety trekking, or you can rent a bike and cycle into the hills. But the most popular of all is the extremely wise choice of the activity called ‘hammocking’, where you lie down and do nothing. There is also the jeep safari that is a quick getaway into the Sahyadri Hills. They will also teach you how to pitch a tent. The camp also proudly lets you draw “your own water from the well and bathe in the open” and, clad in a fresh shirt, you can go hunting for fruits. And there is volleyball and barbecue too at night.
Step out of the camp and spend many a blissful moment gazing at Khodala’s hillocks, small soft green plateaus, huge trees and marvellously slow-moving people. Then snap out of your reverie and visit the small Ganesh Temple here. You have to go down the slope to the temple, if not for god then for a mad stream that runs behind it. It may be nothing more than a silly trickle the rest of the year but during the monsoons it goes crazy. The spot around the lake is worth absorbing, with its hills and rocks and valleys and free beauty — a good spot for a picnic.
Location Across the ghats from Jawhar, just off the Mumbai-Nashik Highway, 23 km from Igatpuri
Distance 151 km NE of Mumbai JOURNEY TIME By road 31/2 hrs By rail 21/2 hrs + 3/4 hr by road
Route NH3 to Jawhar Phata via Thane and Shahapur; state road to Khodala via Karegaon
When to go The monsoon (June-October) is best
STD code 02529 From Mumbai 952529
By Manu Joseph