Sunday, August 18, 2013

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.

Useful Links:


  1. Hi,

    I'm Nilesh from Prabal-Machi. I am really thankful to you for accepting my services and special thanks for writing about my services in your blog .

    Webpage : (

    1. Nilesh, I knew that you will be the first one to comment on this post :) You have done an incredible job on the web to market your services. Given the fact that you hail from a rural village and that you co-ordinate things being in Chennai, this feat is really commendable and worth a mention over here.

      We should be in fact thanking you for taking care of all our needs during our trek. Your parents and brothers were very helpful. The food was awesome and stay arrangement was really good. I have taken a couple of snaps of your parents and brother Balu which I will mail you separately. Thanks once again for all your help!

  2. Start weekend trekker app. And invite members in it. Use the Google or windows platform. I believe digital age has made business easy. Make my trip! Is one of the success stories! Try it Sallu.

  3. You should make an app! Like google+ n invite members n followers. You know it Sallu. Enjoyed reading the blog!

  4. Anonymous12:39 pm

    I also want to be part of ur trekers time
    mail me at

    1. Hi there! Great to know that you want to join our trekking group. However, our group Weekend Trekkers is a closed group and entry is by invite only. Please check our facebook page - and see if you have a friend who's already in the group and who can invite you to join our group.

  5. Thanks Salil, awesomely written and explained. Kalavati Durg's next on my wishlist and I wish Nilesh be the helping hand for my grp too...

    1. Thank you, Amit! Yes, just call up Nilesh and he will help you with everything! If you go for Kalavantin Durg, you should stay overnight on Prabalmachi and go to Prabalgad as well the next day morning. Also, in case you didn't know, check out Kalavantin Durg being mentioned in the list of 'The 33 Most Beautiful Abandoned Places In The World' - :)

  6. Hi Salil, I live in Kalyan, Mumbai.
    I have a group of young friends aged 17-25. We want to organise a picnic-cum-trekon a Sunday in July. We can organise for private SUV vehichles on our own. I wish to know whether getting to the pinnacle of Kalawanti Durg would be worth it. Also some of the trekkers are young girls, so do you think it would be manageable for them? I mean how skilled do you really need to be to get up there? What things do we need to carry along. And what are the Do's and Dont's for the trip. I would appreciate if you could reply

    1. Thank you for your comment, Joel. The Kalavantin Durg pinnacle is definitely worth scaling. In fact, it's one of the thrilling treks in the Sahyadris. I hope you have read my experience at The climb to the col between Prabalgad and Kalavantin Durg is relatively easy and takes about 25 minutes. There's a slanting rock patch ahead of the col and if it's raining heavily this rock patch seems dangerous, especially when the winds are gushing and visibility is low due to fog. Many trekkers quit at the col. But if you are careful, climb the rock patch putting your weight on your right hand side i.e. towards the rock surface, you can easily cross this patch and get rewarded with the sight of the Kalavantin Durg vertical staircase! Also, the last rock patch which you are supposed to climb to reach the summit is vertical and would require some rock climbing. We did get the support of a rope which was tied by another trekking group, but a couple of us including me did climb and descend the rock patch without the rope. You just need to put your feet in the right footholds. The satisfaction of overcoming these two hurdles and reaching the summit is overwhelming. You don't have to be worried about young girls in your group. In fact, they are the ones who will overcome these hurdles better than the rest of you. My advise to you would be to leave your bags in the safe custody of Nilesh's parents/brothers in the village on the plateau and enjoy the trek. Just carry a few bottles of water along. Also, please use trekking shoes with soles that have a good grip.

  7. Thanks salil for the very useful post ..... adding all the details regarding the trek., i would like to ask..... can u suggest some trekking shoes / sandals for treks available
    being an amateur.... last time i lost my shoes on a trek to Peth fort so...

    1. Thank you for your appreciation, Kiran. You can carry spare sandals/floaters to wear when you finish the trek. But don't use them during the trek since they make you slip. Most trekkers recommend using Action Trekking Shoes which are economical (cost around 700/800 bucks), comfortable, durable and most important 'safe' since they have a firm grip. Please check their reviews by trekkers at: (in Marathi)

  8. hey
    pls tell me how much this trek cost per person n means of transportations....