Trek To Karnala

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The rain god had eluded us for most part of this monsoon. But it was raining heavily last Sunday i.e. 18th of Aug and apparently we had a leave on Monday for the festival of Eid. Such pleasant atmosphere and I was sitting at home doing nothing. This waste of time was making me impatient. So I asked my friends about a trek on the next day! Hemant and Anand could not make it. But Prasad and Sachin agreed.  I had suggested Karnala, since it is around 80-90kms from Vasai. Both of them were fine with it 🙂

Karnala trail

Prasad and Sachin on our way through the forest

We started on our regular time at 5:30 in the morning reaching the foothills in a couple of hours! We had assumed that this would be a very small trek and if we start early on time, we would be back home by lunch. But this was not to be. Most of the nearby hotels/stalls were still to open. We had to go further almost four kilometers to find a hotel for our breakfast. Thus loosing valuable time, we could only start our trek by around 9:00.

Karnala steps to fort

Sachin, standing at one of the entrance to the fort

It is actually a small trek, but we took our time while going up. Chit-chatting and taking occasional breaks. The area is a protected forest and comes under the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. The authorities warn all the visitors against littering around in the forest. The forest is quite dense. The trail starts from western side of the fort leading to a long ridge. Both the Eastern and the Western side of the fort is visible from the ridge. A long walk along the ridge leads us to the main fortification. After a couple of treaky rock patches we reached the main fort. It has two main bastions. The main one has a 125 ft high rock pillar which emerges as the highest peak in the surrounding area and was ideal was being used as watch tower. There are few water cisterns below the tower. The second bastion is at lower height than the first one. The view from the pinnacle is breath taking. Standing on the pinnacle, one can have a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. This fort was used to keep a watch on the ancient trade route passing through Bhor ghat to the port at Karanja.

After having spent some time on the top, we started descending and reached the base in an hour. Starting the trek early has its own advantage. First of all, we were able to avoid the mid noon heat while climbing. Secondly, when we reached the pinnacle, it was just three of us over there at that time. We had the luxury of enjoying the calmness in the dense forest, which other wise gets disturbed by noisy visitors. Where as, while descending there were many groups and families who were starting the trek/ picnic!

It took us another 2 hrs to reach home. What a fruitful way to spend the morning. This is probably the shortest time we had taken for a trek and coming back until now, but could not make it until the lunch time though 🙂

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Trek to Vikat gad (Peb)

“You are not feeling well, you can’t go tomorrow”- my parents were insisting on me canceling the trek plan.  I had canceled the Prev trek to “Peth” due to some unavoidable reason. Not this time.

We had decided to meet at Dadar Stn @ 6:30 in the morning. I left home @ 5:20, but still could reach only by 7:00! 😉 . But Mandy was still late, so I was not in the line of fire! :). We got a local to Kalyan. Sanchi n Mukesh joined us @ Thane. Stations went by one after the other, as we were busy chating, discussing. The topic of discussion was as usual, NDS! The days spent there, current state etc. Everybody is bound to get Nostalgic. After all NDS is the place where we came together as a group. We can spend days, without getting bored; discussing the time we spent @ NDS. But no discussion amongst this group can ever be termed as complete unless we abuse this one  guy, we hate so much! The one and only, Kaka! @#$%&! (Cant get more specific on a public forum).  Finally we reached Neral @ 10:00.

We took taxi to the dasturi point. This was the actual start to what turned out to be one of the most adventures and successful trek by Team NDS so far! Unlike our previous outings, there was not much of climbing in this trek. we were at higher altitude and were supposed to descend down the fort to Neral.  The route through the dense forest was awesome, there were trees which had fallen on the rails, but then there was light at the end of the tunnel. 😉 

There is a small gate on the left side after walking for around half hour along the rails.  This is where we leave the rail route and start walking on mountain edge. The mountain slope was lush green and the breeze was spreading the typical fragrance of wet soil! Mukesh as usual was leading our way.  We had to cross a couple of ladders. The meeting point of the Matheran hill was amazing. When viewed from some distance it appeared like a “V” like structure. A ridge of around 100 meters connects these two mountains. Crossing this ridge was a thrilling experience, with wind blowing, and having deep valley on either sides.

Vikat GadPeb

There were a couple of ladders more which we had to climb before we reached the fort. The fort as such is not much maintained. There are few walls here n there. There is this Bastion facing Matheran which is in reasonably good shape.  Despite the heavy fog, view from the bastion was breathtaking!  There is one ashram on the fort, the volunteers over here do the basic maintainence. As we went further up to the pinnacle, it was getting difficult to even stand still without holding onto anything. The Pinnacle i.e. the highest point of peb, gives you a 360 degree view of the fort and its surrounding area.

The journey back from the fort was even more exciting. We were not sure how the route will be. I had pain in my knees, which was getting severe. Some trekkers whom we met on our way back told us about a ladder and a rope using which we had to descend. This kinda made us rethink on our return journey! But then we decided to carry on. While climbing down the ladder was an experience which could give any amusement park a run for its money. Heavy rain, blowing wind, shaking ladder and water splashing on your face from below. It was too good. A few minutes later we came to the point where we had to descend taking support of a rope. It was definitely not as tough as it was made out to be. But that should not take away credit from Mukya, Mandy and Deva! These guys were the first one to descend and made sure everybody amongst us could get through safely.  The descend through the forest can be best resembled with a Hollywood movie scene shot in dense Amazon forest. With severe pain in knees, Making your own path, through waterfalls, bushes. Avoiding the shrubs. Taking support of the weeds. Balancing ur weight on mud, loose rocks and tree branches. It was simply Aamazzinggg…..

Participants: Steve, Vishal, Sidd, Sanchi, Mandy, Dev, Sneha, Mukya, Iqbal, Wilson & Yogi!

Trek To Raigad!

Finally the date was finalized. 17th July! This was a long overdue Trek for me with my college frenz! Po2(Prasad) & Kesto(Ketan) had done all the arrangements. I received a call @ 4:00 in the morning. It was Tara(Sachin), he said the car would be coming to my place in 15mins and it did! ….. and thus begins an exciting journey to Raigad!

The Journey Begins

The First car started from NalaSopara from Swapya’s (Swapnil) home, they picked Tara & Tari(Yugandhara) and came to our place. Me (Panga) and Pangi(Sangeeta) were late a bit ;). But we did start at 4:30!

Po2 with his car picked Babu (Nikhil), Andya (Anand) and Chingya (Hems)!

We refueled our cars and our first halt was at Thane. Kesto and Nilu(Nilesh) were waiting for us. We took our next halt near Panvel, where we had Misal Pav. After many small halts for photo sessions n all we finally reached the base of the fort @ 1:00 in the afternoon. We had to wait for our other frenz to come from Pune.

During a break @ Panvel

About Raigad

We started the trek @ 2:00.  Before going any further, let me just brief u bout Fort Raigad! It was Chatrapti Shivaji Maharaj‘s Rajdhani (Capital) from 1674! The amazing fort is at the height of 2700ft. The total area on the fort is more than 100 acres. It is star shaped with three machis. One is known as Hirkani’s machi. second Tak-Mak-Tok. Third is towards Fort Torana.

The Trek

SHivaji maharaj's Statue in front of the bazaar peth @ Raigad

Going up to the fort is quite easy on normal days. But today it was raining like nything. we were hardly able to c 10 feets ahead and as we were going higher it was getting colder! After around an hours walk, we reached the Maha Darwaza We reached the top in @ around 4:00. Visibility was nex to nothin. we made our way to the Darbar. It is a huge hall which people say was decorated with gold and silver. But the british took everything away. They torched the roof. Here we saw Maharaj’s Sinhasan.

Then we went to Bajaar Peth. Its a huge area with shop like structures on both the sides. Behind is the area where horses n other animals were kept. From there we went to Tak-Mak Tok. It is a cliff from where criminals and thieves were thrown down in the valley. The valley below was not visible. n we were required to hold on to the railings as the wind was too strong.

Shiv Ling at the temple on Raigad

From there we went to the third machi i.e. towards Maharaj’s Samadhi. there is a Temple of God Shiva near the Samadhi. Just behind the temple is the Samadhi. Opposite the samadhi is the samadhi of Maharaj’s Pet dog. Legend says that he jumped into Maharaj’s cheeta and sacrificed his life..

Megdambri- Shiv samadhi near the wagh darwaza at Raigad

We could not go further down towards Wagh Darwaja as it was getting late. So we started our way back. Though we were not able to c the entire fort, the effort for going up there, so close to nature and shaking hands with our rich history, was worth it. While coming back few of us came back in on the Rope Way. Swapya, due to some miscommunication came down the fort alone. 😦 The rest of us came back taking the same route. We came back to our rooms.
Everyone of us was tired. But we had this feeling of Fulfilment. Mission Complete. 🙂 Har har Mahadev!