Be tough like rocks on the mountains and soft like sand on the beach.
A few days ago, we celebrated the arrival of the new year 2017 with great enthusiasm. With each new year, there comes an opportunity to explore new territories. The Western Ghats has many such places which can surprise you with its grandeur as well as sheer beauty.
To begin with, I decided to climb the Kalavantin pinnacle situated in my own backyard within an hour’s reach. It is one of the closest trekking destinations from Mumbai. Usually, I don’t visit the same spot twice but due to some circumstances, I ended up climbing the Kalavantin Pinnacle twice in a single month.
The first time, I went with my friends from the office, for a one day trek. The second time, I decided to stay in tents at the Prabal Machi plateau, with my siblings. Both experienced has their own share of memories.
Waking up in the mountains and sleeping on the beach, was a very good idea. I quickly planned this short trip around the Mumbai to spend the peaceful weekend.
Kharghar, Navi Mumbai
Two of my friends joined me on this one day trek over the weekend. We started early from the concrete jungle of Navi Mumbai. Although it was going to be a short ride, we made one stop at the Panvel tri-junction to have a cup of tea. The cold breeze had made our ride pleasurable and hot tea even tastier.
At the beginning of old Mumbai Pune highway near Shedung, we need to take a left turn for Kalavantin fort. The lofty pinnacle became clearly visible to our eyes. The narrow road was taking us through small villages and farm fields. Within a few minutes, we crossed the last village, Thakurvadi and landed in the parking area.
The parking area is a small clearing marking the dead-end. There is a small hut where we can get Chai or Sharbat. The old woman will take care of the vehicles, by charging us few bucks. I could sense the crowd by counting the vehicles parked around us. We stopped a little to get ready for the trek ahead.
Kalavantin Pinnacle is situated at 2300 feet altitude in the western ghats near Mumbai.
When 3 becomes 9
The trek had begun on a wide flat road, wide enough to drive a vehicle. The thorny shrubs and dwarf trees lined the stone-paved pathway. Few villagers carrying firewood on their head passed by. As the road crumpled, we took a few shortcuts to save some time.
At one point, we had the main trail and a small pathway moving away. Ultimately we decided to explore this unknown path. Initial patch was okay, but soon we ended up at the rock bottom. Then we realized that it was a path made by the water stream. Now we had to climb those rocks to move upwards. It was a clear day in summer, hence with no difficulty, we crossed a few boulders and then we meet another group who were climbing on the same route.
Even though the unknown path we took was a shortcut, it cost us double time as well as energy. Anyway, we came adventure and that was just the beginning. Again our path merged with the main trail. There was a small shack where we had a sugar cane juice as refreshment.
A few minutes later, we reached on a plateau known as Prabal Machi. The green and blue tents were laid out in the open. The view of the Kalavantin Pinnacle and Prabal Gad was more close and spectacular.
According to legends, Kalavantin fort was constructed in the honor of queen Kalavantin.
From the Prabal Machi village, the steep climb began over the stone boulders. The thick forest cover was gone in a few minutes. I could see the looming pinnacle over my head. We halted for a moment at the gorge separating Prabal Gad from Kalabvantin Durg.
The steps were carved onto the near vertical rocks, which can be dangerous if not carefully climbed. I was being extra careful while filming the trek on my GoPro. With every step, the view was becoming more and more spectacular. The trail was so narrow that only one person can pass at a time. Many people came for trekking that weekend, which was a little annoying.
The culminating patch was little difficult for most of the trekkers because no steps were sculpted on this crown-like 20 feet rock. I saw people crawling up and down at a very slow pace. Many of them were waiting for their turn. So, I thought to walk around it, and that was a perfect decision. The other side gave me an amazing view which I admired in solitude.
When I got a clear path, it was easy to push myself over these sturdy black rocks. The rounded tip offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding valleys and majestic Prabal Gad.
The Oval Shaped Summit has a Saffron Flag of Maratha Empire mounted at the top.
From the Above
For an acrophobic, this is not a right place to be. It feels crazy to sit over the cliff with my legs hanging freely in the air. These gravity-defying rocks somehow managed to stay put against all the odds. I stand still for a moment to grasp every minute detail about the ultra wide view in front of me, just before handing over this task to my camera.
When we were done with the photography, it was time for the descent. I take extra care while coming down, as it put immense pressure on the thigh muscles and the knees. Slowly we negotiated through the rocks to the jungle. Then a long walk began over the same route towards the parking lot, where our bikes were waiting.
Kalavantin Durg trek was not much difficult but surely can prove dangerous for being negligible. There are many incidents in the past where good trekkers were felt down the cliff into the valley below. Hence, I never underestimate the nature. I feel, we are the guest on this planet, and we should live like one.
Small mistakes can cost precious lives, so always be careful and respect the mountains.
One More Time
During republic day holidays, one of my friends from Chennai came to visit Mumbai. That time, I planned an overnight trek and camping at the Kalavantin Durg. My cousins were quick to join us on this short trip.
In the morning, I picked up my friend from the Mumbai Airport, then drove over the Sea Link to the Haji Ali. Later in the afternoon, when everyone gathered at my place, we immediately started our drive to the base village Thakurvadi where we parked our car. The sun was racing towards the horizon. Before it disappears, we had to reach the summit and that was the target.
Initial patch was a piece of cake until we started to take some shortcuts. Unlike the first time, I avoided detours and chose a usual route. By the time we reached Prabal Machi plateau, the hues of the sky had changed. That left us with very less time to climb the next patch. The best thing we did was to dump our bags at the campsite before moving further.
With the steep gradient, our pace had a hit. We were taking frequent breaks than usual. The sun was about to touch the finish line when we were carefully pushing ourselves over the vertical rock-cut steps. The final patch was looking down at us menacingly, but we aggressively made a successful attempt to the summit. We all were heavily breathing, panting, crawling over the rocks until we got to the top.
Though we had lost the race with the mighty sun, we had done a climb with bravura. Sitting on a top with a mesmerizing view of the orange-blue sky, was a reward.
I think that was the best part, watching the red hot sun going down from the mountain top.
Camping at Prabalmachi
The sun went down hastily, pushing the world into the darkness. We did our best to capture good photos in low light condition. Before it becomes too dark, we descended the difficult rock patch. Then comes torchlights, with which we were negotiating the rocky patch. A few minutes later, we landed in a base village from where the campsite was not so far.
Tiredness had taken over and nobody wanted to do anything, except lying on the ground. Our tents were set up already, but we preferred to sleep outside for a while, watching the sky full of stars. The cold air was soothing our souls. I was watching the blinking city lights in a distance, where millions of people were still working for their future. I felt more peaceful on a shoulder of the mountain.
After some time we had our delicious dinner. They prepared Chicken with Bhakri for all of us. As we all were hungry, everyone ate silently. Later we had a long exposure night photography session using mobile lights to lit up tents. Then all were talking, singing until all got dizzy and began to slip into their tents.
I remembered my childhood, when we used to sleep on a terrace during summer vacation. That was fun, without any worries.
To the Beach
When I opened my eyes, I saw my tent has lightened up by the sunshine. Slowly I stepped out to find out that all were already woke up. We sat at the edge of the valley silently for a while, before starting to pack our things.
With renewed energy, we were descending down over the main path. For a thrill, I chose another route with a slippery patch. It took no time to cover the distance till the parking lot where my car was parked. We came back home, prepared a delicious chicken for the lunch. After that, we thought to go to the beach.
Nagaon Beach is one of the nearest beaches, so we decided to go there for an overnight stay. Old Mumbai Goa highway was not in good condition, due to which we missed our chance to enjoy the beautiful sunset on the beach. Instead, we settled for a night stroll on the beach and delicious fish thali. Also, we got a comfortable homestay in a village.
Nagaon is a beach town on the shores of Arabain sea, in the North Konkan region.
I was awakened in the morning by the cocks crowing. The fog was getting clearer from the surrounding fields. It was a beautiful morning as we didn’t want to stay at home. So, we rushed to the beach to enjoy the adventure sports activities. Colourful Jet Skis and Banana boats were waiting for us. The beach is surrounded by Suru Trees and Cypress groves.
But we ignored everything and went straight into the water. Nagaon beach is safe for swimming. It was fun to swim in shallow water occasionally getting hit by the big waves. After some time, we decided to go deep inside the sea over a Banana boat ride. They gave us safety jackets to wear before getting onto the tube. This long inflated tube on which we were sitting was getting pulled by the Jet Ski.
Withing few minutes, we were a couple of kilometres inside the Arabian Sea. Next step was to jump into the water and float for a while. Later they pulled everyone back onto the tube and dropped us on the shore.
After getting drenched in salty water, we need to take a bath in fresh water. The small houses on the beach offer a bucket of lukewarm water and a bathroom for a minimal amount. Everyone got refreshed and changed into dry clothes.
Nagaon Beach is ideal for swimming and various adventure activities.
Fortaleza de Chaul
Revdanda fort is constructed along the Arabian Sea coast at the mouth of Kundalika River, easily accessible by road. A narrow road through the Coconut groove took us to the remnants of the old fort. It was a quiet place, more like a private property with very fewer tourists.
The fort is a faint reminder of the Portuguese rule in India, built by Portuguese Capt. Soj, which was completed in 1524. The Marathas captured this fort in 1806. Finally, it was seized by the British in 1818. Apart from these facts, there is nothing much to fetch from the history.
The damaged fort wall allowed us to jump on to the beach. The coconut trees were peeking over the ruined fort walls. It was a picture perfect frame with a clear sky, blue water and green trees. We spent some time in this old ruined structure. Apart from the ruined fort walls and seven-storied tower, there is nothing much left from the past. The area is rewilding to its original natural state. The government has forgotten about this fort completely, as there are no efforts made to protect this monument.
Interestingly, Revdanda fort is well-known as Revatikshetra from the time of Mahabharta.