Saturday, December 14, 2013

Karnala Fort Trek Through Bird Sanctuary

Karnala bird sanctuary is a small forest in Raigad district of Maharashtra.

The fort lies within the bird sanctuary perimeter. Its a thickly forested hilly region. The Karnala fort pinnacle can never be missed from Mumbai-Goa highway due to it's peculiar Thumbs-Up structure. The following image would make it clear:

Panvel -> Karnala Bird Sanctuary = 12 KM

The bird sanctuary entrance is hard to miss. It's just after Kamat hotel. Ticket Rates:
Entry for adult: Rs. 25
4 wheeler parking: Rs. 50
Plastic deposit: Rs 200 (They count the no. of plastic bottles and bags and on return journey you will receive the deposit money back only if the count is maintained.)

We reached there about 8.30 and it was quite cold. Started trek at 8.40. Am dividing the trek description based on the type of trail.

I) Tar Trail
Obviously the simplest part. In between the road you will see signs to take left/right to Karnala fort, but ignore them and walk till the very end of tar road. These initial routes are completely useless (we took one!!!) and better not to use them. Example of a misguiding route in between:

The end is near some bird cages. From there the left trail is the one we took since that is easier one.
We hurried since we had seen 5 buses of school children who might climb the fort. They would destroy the serenity and peace we had come to experience in the forest.

II) Initial Climb (Tree root steps)
This is quite easier part because of some natural stairs formed mostly by tree roots and some other stone steps.

There are seats at intervals for resting. We also understood as to why it was called a bird sanctuary inspite of no bird sightings (hint: lovebirds. God knows best why couples take so much trouble, maybe they have some "mannat" at the temple near the peak.).
The forest is dense which reduces the sunlight but the trail is clear. Anytime you have a  multiple trails option, pick the one that goes in the direction of fort and you'll be on track.
This part ends when you see a wonderful shed. It is kind of unique to find such supporting structures during treks. On our return journey, we used it for some resting.

III) Shed #1 to Shed #2 (Rocky ascent)
The most difficult part. Completely filled with stones through which you have to ascend your way. Not that it requires rock climbing skills....just need good stamina and shoes. 

The thick forest gradually start reducing in density with more amount of sunlight being penetrated.

When you come to the next shed you have achieved an important milestone. For the first time you have reached the peak and you can get good views of other side of hill with plenty of breeze.
The shed is one with a view with enough shade and breeze.
Further more you have only one more peak to climb other the the fort peak.

This shed is also the place where we had our lunch during the return journey. Nice, comfortable and breezy place.

IV) Shed #2 to Shed #3 (Somewhat less rocky ascent)
This part has mixture of flat dusty trails as well as rocky ascents. But this is still easier than previous part. There are some multiple trails options but most join together ahead so it should be fine whichever you take.

Shed #3 too is a good one with views and breeze.

V) Shed #3 to Shed #4/ Mandir/ Fort base (Flat trail)
The most easy part probably easier than tar road. Simple flat trail with no forest cover. Good views of both sides of the hill. In the end you reach Shed #4 which is opposite to a mandir. The fort entrance also begins a little ahead from here.

VI) Fort Exploration
Photos and description of the inside of the fort.

Fort Entrance:

Initial safe ascent:

So near, yet so far:

A huge slide-way:

3 peaks:

Finally at the real entrance:

Ascent made safe thanks to the fencing:

Main door:

Wooden Cobweb:

The pinnacle from inside the fort:

Inside some ruined building:

Some caves filled with water that have been barricaded:

Towards the southernmost part of fort. The fort is quite big from inside and stretches more here. However we abandoned exploring this area because of the presence of a large no. of honeybees swarming around this place.

One of the few clicks on our return journey:

Reached the fort entrance at about 10.40. Explored the fort in an hour and after having lunch/rest we were down by 2.00.


Renuka said...

Interesting post! The place looks eerie and beautiful! Must have been a great trek!

Fazeel Kazi said...

Eerie yes, but only when the sunlight is low....else it's beautiful.