Thursday, 1 December 2011

Trekkers hangout- Karnala fort

Difficulty Rating : Easy
Height: 1440 ft
Per head cost: 70 INR (20 Rs. entry fee)
Location: Panvel, Maharashtra, INDIA

Route: Dadar-Panvel-Karnala Bird Sanctuary. Karnala is well connected by State Transport buses from Panvel. Just tell the bus-conductor to drop you at Karnala.

It was July, and I was very proud to be a first year engineering student. It was exciting, getting introduced to the core topics of electronics. Our practical timetable wasn't out yet, and so sitting for lectures was like watching a paint dry !! What is engineering without practicals? Having known that once our practicals start I will get tide-up with my studies (worst part- journal completion), so I decided to take a day off my daily, boring routine and go for a trek to Karnala. This time, my college friend Abhash Kumar too accompanied me.

Karnala fort
History of Karnala:


Built around ~14th century, Karnala fort has a strategic importance because of its peculiar location. It served as a watch tower for trade route on the Western ghats (Bhor ghat). Karnala was ruled by many dynasties, starting from Yadavas, tughlaqs, Nizam of Ahmednagar, Portuguese till Shivaji Maharaj conquered it.After Shivajis death, Aurangzeb ruled this Fort; after some time it came to Peshwas of Pune.Karnala remained under the control of Anantrao (grandfather of 'aadya krantikarak' Vasudev balwant Phadke) until the year 1818, when colonel Prother won the Fort and established the rule of East India Company (.... and ruined the fort).

Karnala is some 10 km from panvel, on Mumbai-Goa Highway. I took a S.T. to reach here.. It is considered as easiest trek for all the seasons.  The trail to the fort follows through the karnala bird sanctuary. Sanctuary is home to various reptiles & some rare species of birds. A mini-waterfall and thick vegetation along the way makes the trek extremely pleasant.

The funnel shaped pinnacle at the top stands tall, with water cisterns at its base. The pinnacle requires climbing gear and is risky during monsoon. Also the Beehive makes the climbing tough. As a story goes, there was a group of climbers attempting a summit atop the pinnacle, when a 'blockhead' among them started smoking a cigar, the smoke enraged the bees & they attacked him and having lost control, he fell from the pinnacle and lost his life.

Drunkards & Smokers dont make good hikers !!! 

It beats me how the fort was built in 14th century, with huge rocks (20x15x18 inches approx.) at a height 1440ft. above sea level !! The front doorway is adorned with many carvings of the lion, elephants, flowers etc.  On the way you'll find a small temple, some artifacts and lot many carvings !! The fortification has some gaps in between (Bastions) which were earlier used for firing canon. The fort still stands Strong keeping aside the destruction by the Portuguese and the English rulers.


   

A 360 degree glimpse from the top gives a magnificent view of the Sahyadris .You can easily spot Manikgad, Prabalgad, Matheran, Irshalgad engulfed in fog, far far away.



The sight really makes you feel as if you are on top of the world. Your mind gets lighter; It makes you forget your problems, your greed, jeaulosy and everything related to the material world. It helps in F5' ing your mind.


On our way back to Panvel in a 6 sitter auto-rikshaw (Local name tum-tum, called so because of the sound of engine it makes :p) i was thinking about nature. I really think nature is the manifestation of God. Although void of its physical existence, it shows its presence in form of nature !! Even though it was my 3rd trek to karnala, it was altogether a different experience; Because we BUNKED COLLEGE THE WHOLE DAY !!! Abhash also had booked his ticket for upcoming treks with me.


Also, this is my first blog post. I hope to write about every trek, every hike I accomplish, every adventure I do. See you sooner!