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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Karnala Fort Trek | A Beautiful Day Trek Will Make You Happy

Karnala fort trek-Karnala killa
Karnala Killa

Karnala Fort Trek | A Beautiful Day Trek Will Make You Happy

India being a hub of the forts, has won the hearts of many tourists. Most of those are belong to the state of Maharashtra in the western region. Karnala Fort is one of those monuments and Karnala Fort trek is one such activity that followed by travelers. It is not only a fort but also a hub for many colorful birds. Yes, you heard me right; Karnala is a bird sanctuary and the fort is situated inside the sanctuary. Sounds good right; Karnala Fort is a hill fort in the Raigad district of Maharashtra state. The height of the Karnala Fort is 1500 feet. It is situated at a distance of 10 km from Panvel city. The fort has much historic importance.

How to reach Karnala Fort?

Panvel is the nearest town to reach the Karnala fort.

By Air

Mumbai is the nearest airport to reach the destination. From the airport, one can hire a self-drive vehicle or can also opt for local transportation.

By Road

The Hill has located at a distance of 60 km from Mumbai and 110 km from Pune, on Mumbai Goa highway. It is 2 hours drive from Thane city. There are state transport buses that run between Mumbai Central to Karnala. You can also catch a bus from the Panvel bus depo. The distance is not more than 10 km.

By Train

Panvel is the nearest railhead to reach the fort, it is located on the central line of Mumbai and Central railways are also run the train from Thane, CST to Panvel. Walk 10 min from railway station to reach the bus depo of Panvel and catch any bus going towards Pen or Alibaug, Karnala lies on the way. you can also take a direct rickshaw to reach the fort.

What Is The History of Karnala Fort?

There were so many fights and wars done to conquer the fort. The fort was constructed before 1400 under two rulers Devgiri Yadavas and Tughlaq rulers. It was also the capital of the North Konkan district. Later, it went under the command of Gujarat Sultanate, and again it was taken by Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar. Later, Gujarat Sultanate requested a Portuguese commanding officer to win the area. The fort was returned to Gujarat Sultanate, but yes with Portuguese officers.

Gujarat Sultanate fled to Vasai, surrendering to fort back to the Portuguese. At this time Nizam tried to conquer the fort with 5000 men, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Portuguese continued to hold. Later, the Portuguese handover this fort to Nizam for an annual payment of 17500.

Shivaji Maharaj conquered the fort from the Mughals and continued to hold it, but after his death, it was controlled by Aurangzeb. After this Mughals continued to occupy the fort for quite a long time. In 1740, the fort went to Peshwas of Pune and remained under their command. In 1818, the British East India Company started to hold the fort. 

My Experience of Karnala Fort trek

Coming back to my corner of the story, it was my second visit to this beautiful pinnacle. The very first time was when I finished my 10th class. I had also tried to visit here two months back when the lockdown was just lifted out, but the fort was still close, I had to return back from the fort. One fine day everything happened as per planning, and I got an opportunity to visit this monument. Being located on a minimal distance from my hometown, traveling to this place was not a big task. National Highway NH17 passes from the Karnala route, and then it further connects to the Konkan coastal. Karnala fort trekking is one such place filled with many families with their kids.

One has to purchase the entrance ticket before you start the trek. On holiday this is the most crowded fort with a long queue standing to buy a ticket at the counter. It is always advisable to start the trek as early as possible as this fort normally opens at 7 am. The route of the fort goes through the Karnala bird sanctuary. On weekend there are lots of professional photographers visiting here to click the pictures of different species of birds. The initial 10 min walk is easy and simple with no diversion. As you walk ahead you see a few birds kept inside the nest at the base point. There are few canteens on route selling breakfast and lunch. Food is reasonable here.

Karnala fort trek
Karnala fort entrance near ticket house

Karnala fort trek
Species of birds spotted at Karnala sanctuary

The route passes from the restaurant. It has two diversions, left which has rock cut steps and also a most preferred route. Most of the family prefers to take a left side road due to its small ascend. Right from here is the route for experienced trekkers. One who wants to experience adventure trekking, this is the most adventurous climb. If you are not regular trekkers then better to avoid this route. Coming back to my story we decided to take this adventurous road for trekking. As we started ascending through the forest sun rays started peeling out through branches. It was a difficult task to ascend through this route, the reason the trail was a bit slippery due to sand. Trekking to the summit of the fort was a bit challenging, but yes life itself is an adventure. Though this route was the shortcut to reach the summit, it was steep ascending through small rocks and muddy trail. After a walk for around 1-hour route meets up to the first road giving the first glimpse of Karnala’s mystic valley and the surrounding mountain. The view was simply amazing and breathe taking. One can get engaged in clicking nature's beauty. Being a little dry weather water break was a necessity throughout the trek.

Karnala fort trek
Adventurous trekking route passing through the forest

Karnala fort trek
Forest trail to reach the summit point of Karnala fort

Karnala fort trek
Valley view Karnala fort

Karnala fort trek
First and easy route to reach the summit point of Karnala fort

As we reached the valley point, the trek becomes a gradual walk through little of a slope. The ruined part of the fort structure is visible from here. Recently railing has been installed here for safety purposes. As you walk more close to your destination rock-cut steps with railing on both the side adds flavor in your trek, climbing becomes so easy. Steps are a bit narrow; one person at a time is the thumb rule. As you cross those steps, you reach the first gate of Karnala fort. A glimpse of the ruined Karnala fort is visible from here. There is a long pinnacle ahead of the first gate along with a flag of Swarajya. This pinnacle is called as Pandus tower. It was used as a watchtower in the early time, but now it is completely ruined. Karnala fort also has a Bhawani temple that can be visited on the first route while ascending towards the fort. Small descending from the first gate will take you to the summit point of the fort. The fort also has lots of monkeys. If you are smart enough then don’t keep any plastic rappers or water bottles in hand, monkeys will snatch it.

Karnala fort trek
Surrounding fort view from Karnala fort

Karnala fort trek
Bhawani temple on the first route towards the summit

Karnala fort trek
Climbing to the fort became easy with the support of the railing and rock-cut steps

Karnala fort trek
Flag of Swarajya on the summit point

Karnala fort trek
The first gate of Karnala fort

Karnala fort is situated on a small height, the distance for a trek is not more than two hours. It is an ideal trek for first-timers or for those who hardly trek. The Summit of the fort offers an astonishing view of surrounding forts like Prabalgad, Kalavantin, Sondai, Irshalgad, and Rajmachi fort. One can take a long break to capture the moments of summit view. Descending from any fort is easy. It hardly took 1 hour to reach back to the base point.

Karnala fort trek
Summit view of Karnala fort

Karnala fort trek
Two routes of Karnala fort, left comes through the forest and the right side is a much simpler one

An ideal season to visit Karnala fort

Karnala fort can be visited throughout the year, but most of the tourist crowds in the monsoon and winter season. Being located inside a dense forest, it is covered with greenery. Shimmering waterfalls in the monsoon fulfill the dream of trekkers. The trail becomes a bit slippery due to wet and muddy roads, the trek becomes adventurous. You need to be extra careful while trekking in monsoon time.

Winter from October to February is an ideal time to visit here. Climate is pleasant with a wind-chill environment. You may find lots of tourists coming to click the pictures of birds.

You will hardly see any trekkers coming in the summer season. The climate here is too hot and humid. If you want to visit here in the hot season then better to start your trek as early as possible in the morning and finish it before the sun becomes extra hot.

Are there any stay options near Karnala fort?

Being situated in the forest area there are no resorts or hotels available to stay, but yes; Resorts are available at a distance of 10 km towards Pen side and also Panvel side. Price varies as per economy to a deluxe room. Visava and Panoramic resorts are a few of those. This is not even the place where you can pitch your tent, the reason trekking at night is restricted due to wild animals.

Eateries near Karnala fort

There is one hotel near to the base point that offers breakfast and lunch in a reasonable amount. Apart from it, a few other small shacks are selling lime water and snacks. There are few restaurants with good options to eat located at a distance of 3-4 km from Karnala. You need to carry an energy bar and extra water while trekking to the summit point.

What to know before you visit Karnala fort?

Karnala fort trek
Karnala fort entry fees with camera
-Fort timing is 7 am to 5 pm, trekking at night is restricted due to wild animals.

-You need to pay extra if you carry a camera (250 INR for Indians and 500 INR for foreigners).

-Carry extra water and energy bar as there are no hotels on route.

-Washroom is available at a base point next to the restaurant.

-Do not carry unnecessary luggage with you to avoid difficulties while trekking.

-Do not drink on the fort and try not to litter the area around the fort. 



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