Saturday, March 24, 2012

Karnala Trek

Its been almost 6 months since I last traveled! Was dying to get back on the road. While the next long trip remains elusive, a small day trek to Karnala was a welcome break.

The Karnala fort is located around 12 kms from Panvel on the Mumbai-Goa highway. The fort is said to date back to the 13th/14th century. In the present form, the approach road to the fort begins through the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. Was happy to see that at the gate to the sanctuary, visitors' bags are checked for plastic bottles and bags. A deposit is collected for each item. The deposit gets refunded only when the bags/bottles are shown at the time of exit!

There are two ways to climb the fort. The shorter route, on the right hand side is steeper. It climbs in almost a  straight line to the fort. It took us around an hour and a half to climb up at a leisurely pace. Most part of the route is through a dense forest. Many bird sounds were audible, however in our eagerness to get to the top, we did not wait patiently to spot them. After the steep climb the route joins a vast open plateau, followed by a small climb to the fort. The fort has a few steps and some walls in ruins. Like most of the forts in the region there is a well with cool drinking water. Climbing the peak is dangerous and prohibited.

On the way down we took the longer route. Luckily this route too passes through a dense green cover. Many monkeys along this track! We were back at the base by 1 pm and headed to Karnala restaurant, a couple of kms down the road for a nice fish lunch washed down with lots of kokam sherbat!

All in all a nice day trek. Probably more picturesque in the monsoon/post-monsoon season, while winters is a better time for bird watching.

The map at the sanctuary entrance

The peak as seen from the start of the trail

The Golden Orion

The Golden Orion zoom

Bird nest

View from midway

Curiously all the branch-ends point upwards!

The plateau

The entrance to the fort

View from behind the entrance

Four of us at the fort gate

The fort and the peak behind

Monkeying around