Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kalavantin Durg & Prabalgad Trek - Part 2 - Kalavantin Durg

...continued from my previous post - Kalavantin Durg & Prabalgad Trek - Part 1 - Prabalmachi

We quickly freshened ourselves at the room allocated to us by Nilesh's father on Prabalmachi and started for the Kalavantin Durg trek at 1:30 pm (on 27th July, 2013).

Nilesh's elder brother Namdev guided us through the village to the starting point of the trek. The ascend was quite steep.

In 25 minutes, we reached the col between Kalavantin Durg and Prabalgad. There were a lot of people gathered over there. Many of the trekkers quit this trek at this point when they see the dangerous slanting rock patch ahead. And to add to that, it was raining heavily with winds gushing over the rock surface. Despite these conditions, we continued on the rock patch by keeping our weight on our right hand side.

Further up, we could see a vertical staircase carved on the rock face. There were other trekkers coming down the staircase and we had to wait for our turn to climb. After climbing this staircase and some more stairs, we could see the pinnacle ahead of us.

In about 20 minutes from the col, we reached the base of the last rock patch that we were to climb to reach the summit. Trekkers from another trekking group Trek Mates India (TMI) were on the summit and coming down the rock patch one by one using a rope that was tied to a rock above. So, we had to again wait for about 15 minutes for our turn. Vishal from TMI was at the base of the rock patch and his team-mate Aniket was standing above guiding the trekkers on how to come down.

They were kind enough to leave the rope over there for us for some more time even after all their trekkers had got down. Actually one doesn't need the rope to climb or to get down that rock patch and a couple of us did climb without the help of the rope. But the rope helped boost the confidence of the rest of us.

We finally reached the summit at 2:40 pm. We couldn't view the surrounding Matheran mountain range because of the fog cover. We spent about 15 minutes on the summit, saluted the Maratha ochre flag over there and started our descend at 2:55 pm.

Aniket from TMI removed the rope and was the last one to come down the rock patch.

We thanked Vishal and Aniket for their help and continued carefully on our way back and down the stairs.

We reached the col at 3:15 pm and further down to the village at 3:40 pm. So, we completed the entire trek in 2:10 hours.

We then came back to our room, freshened up and went to the eatery to have our lunch at about 4:30 pm.

Post lunch, seven of us bid adieu to the remaining four of us at 5:45 pm. They had spoken to one of the Rickshaw-walas who had dropped us at Thakurwadi in the morning and had called him again to pick them up. The four of us then retired to our room for the night.

L-R: Gaurav, Sandeep, Shreyas, Vishal, Ishan, Guru, Nitin
Overall, it was a thrilling trek. Steps cut into the rock face, a steep climb along with the gushing winds and heavy rain, the last rock patch make this one a not-so-easy trek.

A short compilation of the Kalavantin Durg Trek by Weekend Trekkers!

...continued in my next post - Kalavantin Durg & Prabalgad Trek - Part 3 - Prabalgad (coming soon)

Note to Readers: If you like this blog post or if you find the information that I have provided in this blog post useful to you or if you have any query, I will really appreciate if you leave your comment below.

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Kalavantin Durg & Prabalgad Trek - Part 1 - Prabalmachi

We have named our group the "Weekend Trekkers" since we do treks on Weekends. This time we had arranged a trek to the beautiful Prabalgad and Kalavantin Durg.

Prabalgad is located between Panvel and Matheran at an elevation of 2,300 feet. It was one of the 23 forts that were handed over to the Mughal Empire by Shivaji Maharaj as per the Treaty of Purandar in 1665. It was later on won back by Shivaji Maharaj. Kalavantin Durg is a small fort located opposite to Prabalgad that was built for a queen named Kalavantin. It was used as a watch tower in the past.

Both the forts can be accessed from Prabalmachi (Prabal Plateau). We had planned an overnight stay at Prabalmachi with the intention of doing the Kalavantin Durg trek on the first day (27 July, 2013) and Prabalgad trek the next day (28 July, 2013). When we were searching the web for information on this trek, we came across comments by a local person Nilesh Bhutambara (+918056186321) on almost every blog about the trek. Though he stays in Chennai, his family at Prabalmachi provides local help, stay and food for trekkers and he has marketed his services really well by even putting up his own blogs. We had called him and arranged our food and stay at his place.

Eleven of us gathered at Kurla Harbourline Railway Station at 6:30 am and boarded the 6:35 Panvel bound local train. We reached Panvel at around 7:15 am and walked for about 10 minutes towards the Panvel ST Bus Stand.

We had Puri Bhaji and Misal Pav for breakfast at a hotel in between. Post breakfast, we went to the ST Bus Stand to catch the next bus to the base village Thakurwadi. However, seeing the crowd gathered for the bus, we decided to hire a couple of 6-seater Auto Rickshaws. We got a bad bargain of Rs. 900 for two Rickshaws because initially when asked about their fare for taking 11 people in one Rickshaw, the Rickshaw owners quoted Rs. 500 and when we later on asked them the fare for hiring two Rickshaws, they just reduced Rs. 50 per Rickshaw. If we would have taken two separate Rickshaws initially, the fare would have been Rs. 300 for each of them. We didn't mind the additional fare because we were all pooling in and were in a hurry to reach Thakurwadi. We started from the Rickshaw stand at about 8:30 am.

Just before reaching Thakurwadi, we could see Prabalmachi from a distance with both Prabalgad and Kalavantin Durg covered with fog. We reached a junction just outside Thakurwadi village at about 9:10 am and on enquiring took a left turn there (the straight road goes to the main village) to reach the starting point of the trek in another 5 minutes. There were a couple of cars and bikes of other trekkers parked over there. After seeing off the Rickshaw-walas, we started the trek at 9:30 am.

The trail appeared as if it's going towards another mountain to the left hand side of Prabalmachi, but a local passerby confirmed that it was the right trail. In about 15 minutes, we reached a small waterfall by the side of the trail where we refreshed ourselves.

At about 10:45 am, after taking a couple of short breaks and a short cut, we reached a small rock patch located at a hairpin bend where we decided to show off our rock-climbing skills. We spent about 20 minutes at the rock patch and then moved on.

In 5 more minutes, we reached a spot where Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman were carved on rock and painted with Ochre colour.

A temple of Lord Ganapati & Lord Hanuman on the way
After taking their blessings, in another 5 minutes, we reached a corn shop set up just before the top of the plateau with an inviting waterfall beside it. We could see the magnificent Kalavantin Durg in the backdrop still covered with fog. We gave the corn shop owner an order for 11 corns, removed our shoes and entered the waterfall. We spent about 45 minutes having fun at the waterfall and eating corn.

We reached Prabalmachi at 12 noon and one of us even got a lucky shot of Kalavantin Durg revealing itself completely. The view of Thakurwadi and the surrounding plains was also breath-taking. The place where we were supposed to have our food was right in front of us. Barring the breaks, we took about 1:20 hours to reach Prabalmachi.

Nilesh's father and brother Balu welcomed us at the eatery and served us Kanda Pohe for breakfast at 12:30 pm. Their place for us to stay was located a little further and Nilesh's father escorted us till there. It was a house with 3 rooms with a common bathroom and toilet outside it. We were given the centre room that had 2 beds at a charge of Rs. 500 (6:00 am to 6:00 am the next day).

Note to Readers: If you like this blog post or if you find the information that I have provided in this blog post useful to you or if you have any query, I will really appreciate if you leave your comment below.

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