Monsoon Meanderings: How To Explore Amboli In The Rains

Declared as a hill station in 1880 by the British, the picturesque village of Amboli in the Sahyadris is a treat for the senses during monsoons with its lush greenery, waterfalls, ruins and temples
How To Explore Amboli In The Rains
Amboli hills grow lush in the monsoonsShutterstock

The British, always nostalgic for bad weather, had already declared Amboli a hill station by the 1880s. Even before them, Amboli's potential had been discovered by the Sawants of the neighbouring taluka of Wadi. The clouds above this village in the Sahyadris relentlessly pour rain for a good four months if not the entire year, making it the wettest place in Maharashtra. But the surrounding forests were so thick with trees and tigers at the time of the Raj, and Matheran so much closer to Mumbai, that Amboli remained unchecked on tourists' maps for a very long time thereafter. Today, however, it attracts a clutch of enthusiastic families and wildlife enthusiasts for it's many offerings, especially in the monsoons. Amboli, is worth visiting for one of these many reasons.

Activities You Could Join This Monsoon

Photography/Herping Tours

Herping tours focus on biodiversity of the forest floors
Herping tours focus on biodiversity of the forest floorsShutterstock

Many nature tours flourish on the Amboli ghats during monsoon for herpetology (study of amphibians and reptiles) and macro photography enthusiasts. This year, photographer Saurabh Chatterjee is hosting a group from July 12-14th. Find more details here

Nature Camps

Baba Dabdaba, a lesser known waterfall near Amboli ghats
Baba Dabdaba, a lesser known waterfall near Amboli ghatsShutterstock

Situated at an elevation of 690 meters in the Sahyadris, Amboli is a captivating destination known for its remarkable rainfall, cascading waterfalls, and misty surroundings during the monsoon season. Join a nature camp suitable for all ages to explore Amboli's diverse butterflies, vibrant flora, reptiles, and amphibians or go waterfall chasing with nature guides. Experience the wonders of nature and savour the delicious Konkani cuisine. Amboli offers a unique opportunity to appreciate its natural splendour and culinary delights. Foliage Outdoors has an ex-Pune departure on 14th September 2024. Check more details here

Amboli Monsoon Festival

Known for majestic waterfalls, Amboli Ghat is also known as the 'Cherrapunjee of Maharashtra'
Known for majestic waterfalls, Amboli Ghat is also known as the 'Cherrapunjee of Maharashtra'Getty Images

The Directorate of Tourism in Maharashtra is organising a monsoon festival in Amboli in August 2024. Between August 19th and 23rd, anyone can attend this festival. Cultural programs, delicious Konkani meals in the relaxing ambience of the hill station and nature trails offer an inviting charm to explore the place this season. More details here

Things to See and Do

All the places to see will be either on the right side or towards the left of Hotel JRD International, the most prominent landmark in Amboli. You can also pick up a useful map of the town from the hotel's reception desk. If not driving, the best way to get about is to take an auto if you haven't driven up to this hill station, or ask your hotel to get you a cab. 

Madhavgad Fort

Mahadevgadh or Madhavgad point
Mahadevgadh or Madhavgad pointPinterest/CoolAmboli

Although the Madhavgad Fort is now in a state of ruin, a visit must be paid to the dilapidated structure, which is four times the size of Shaniwarwada in Pune. A tombstone on the main road acts as a memorial to a battle that once took place here. Not much is known about the fight but an inscription on the tombstone reads that only one British soldier died. Share lunch or dinner with the elders in Amboli and they will probably regale you with stories about this particular event in history (over a bowl of mutton curry, no less). Another attraction is the abandoned Summer Palace of the Bhonsles of Sawantwadi. There are unbeatable views of the hills from this vantage point.

Waterfalls

The Amboli Waterfall
The Amboli WaterfallLoke1280/Shutterstock.com

There are two of note here, on opposite sides of the town. Nangartas Waterfall, 10 km from Amboli, chiefly has only spectator appeal. It falls deep and noisily into a beautiful ravine and visitors are advised to be careful around the edge. The other one (5 km away), simply called Waterfall by the locals, demands more participatory effort. It offers the kind of noisy fun families and gangs of college kids drive up here for.

Views and Walks

Amboli hills, Maharashtra
Amboli hills, MaharashtraUnsplash

Like any intelligent hill station, Amboli offers many different viewpoints. During the rains, clouds cast a white blanket over the horizon on the Sahyadris. There is the mandatory Sunset Point, as well as others known as Parikshit Point, Kavelsad Point and Shirgaonkar Point, which offer views of the nearby forests. Sometimes it is possible to see deer here, or even a leopard. Mahadevgad, built by the Sawants, has great views of the Arabian Sea.

Temples

Hiranyakeshi Temple
Hiranyakeshi TempleMaharashtra Tourism

Hiranyakeshi Uppam, where the River Hiranyakeshi springs forth from the mouth of a cave, has a small Shiva Temple built many years ago by a man who is supposed to be a manifestation of Shiva, according to the resident priest. There is something inherently peaceful about the place. The nearby Maruti Mandir is more of a commercial effort by a local baba, who had earlier sought followers in Goa.

The Information

Getting There

By Air: Manohar International Airpot in Goa is the nearest airport (45 kms) with connectivity from all major cities in India. Sindhudurg Airport is 70 kms away but it has limited connections at present.
By Rail: Nearest railhead is Sawantwadi Road (28 km/1 hr). Trains from Mumbai, Pune and Southern parts of India ply on this route.
By Road: You can also drive or take a bus from major cities like Mumbai or Pune, as the hill station is well-connected by road. Taxis and car rentals are available for the last leg of the journey.

Where To Stay

Amboli has basic options, but nothing top-end.  Hotel JRD International (Tel 02363-240222 Tariff INR 2000 hoteljrdinternational.com) is the only establishment in town where alcohol can be consumed legally. The hotel also arranges for jeeps and guides for guests. MTDC's Green Valley Resorts (Tel 240236/39 Tariff INR 900-2,000) has 20 rooms and a restaurant. Shiv Malhar (Tel 240301 Tariff INR 1000-1,500) www.shivmalharhotelamboli.com) also has similar facilities.

Whistling Woods (Tel 240505 Tariff INR 1,600 www.amboliww.com), near Green Valley Resorts, has 6 rooms and room service but no restaurant on site. Green Palace (Tel 240302 Tariff INR 1500 onwards) is a cheaper option and has a restaurant. Silver Spring Resort (Cell 09049455502, 09421190571, 09049053836 Tariff INR 1350 onwards www.silverspringresort.in) also has a restaurant.

What To Eat

Sol Kadhi is a great digestive and always served with thalis
Sol Kadhi is a great digestive and always served with thalisFoodism

There are plenty of small eateries on the main road, which have a basic lunch of fresh bhakri, amti, mula or pao bhaji. All of this washed down with sol kadi made from fresh kokum solam makes for the perfect meal.

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