The Arnala Fort is a small abandoned fort on the coast of the Arabian Sea. It makes for an interesting one day trek.
The views of the Arabian Sea
As you walk along the moss-laden trails of the fort, you are treated to the best views of the Arabian sea. Just for this view from a vantage point, this trek is worth it.
The fishing village
The Arnala fort stands on an island that the locals have converted into a fishing village. Just to see how these fishermen make a living here is very interesting. Try and strike a conversation with a local, or perhaps get onto a fishing boat.
The Arnala Fort
The fort in itself is not in great condition. It is forlorn and abandoned. But it does have a bit of history. The fort’s strategic position overlooking the sea made it a much-coveted fort, due to which it has changed hands from the Portuguese, to the Marathas, to the British.
This trek was explored and documented by Disha Shetty.
An island with stunning views of the Arabian sea
- Arnala Fort is quite close to Mumbai and makes for an interesting one-day trek.
- It is easily accessible by train and then a ferry ride to an island where the fort sits.
- The fort offers beautiful panoramic views of the Arabian sea!
- Just for this view, especially if you can catch the sunset from here, this trek is completely worth it!
- You’ll also get to see how a fishing village functions.
Virar is famous amongst residents of Mumbai for the fast local trains that end there, carrying a sea of humanity in them. But half an hour from the last station on Mumbai’s western line is a little explored and forlorn fort – Arnala.
Reaching Arnala is easy, so you wonder why it is not a favourite among the locals – especially because it offers a great view of the Arabian sea. The answer is that this fort is a neglected one, where you do not even have to pay an entry charge. The island where it stands has a fishing village and the villagers use the fort premises to dry their fishes!
Why then, would I recommend a trip to the fort?
To see how locals live in the shadow of times gone by. And of course, the view of the Arabian Sea that will blow your mind when you get on top of the fort! Clear blue water dotted with lots of fishing boats and the setting sun. You will find yourself catching your breath because well, you are still in Mumbai and being able to look at anything but crowd is a luxury in the city!
You can also take children here, as they are bound to be fascinated by the entire journey, right from the boat ride, to the ancient fort, to the well with tortoises, to the view of the sea!
For history buffs, this fort offers to lot to learn from, as it dates back to the 1500’s. It was built by a Sultan from Gujarat. Its strategic position made it a much-coveted fort, due to which it has changed hands from the Portuguese, to the Marathas, to the British. After being a hot spot for centuries, the fort now lies in a state of disrepair.
You can find a list of documented treks in Maharashtra here.
At the Arnala Fort
Once you are on the island, ask the locals to direct you to the Fort. It is a 2 minute walk once you get off the ferry. The entrance will lead you to open space inside the Fort. There are stairs that lead you up, along the boundary wall of the Fort.
The best way to see the view of the Arabian sea is to walk along the boundary wall. Since it is located on an island, you get a view of the sea no matter where you are. Watching a sunset from here is definitely recommended. There is also a small temple inside the Fort, as well as a mosque.
Walking along the boundary wall and exploring the Fort should take you an hour or two at the most. There is also an octagonal reservoir, where you will find tortoises swimming. You will come across small enclosures and windows along the boundary wall, which at one time would have allowed those guarding the Fort keep an eye out for any incoming ship.
There is a similar sounding fort named Karnala on the Mumbai-Goa highway, 10 kms from the city of Panvel. You can find the trek documented here.
Things to remember
- Make sure you find out when the last ferry back is so that you reach the shore back on time.
- If you are someone who cannot stand the smell of the fish then skip the visit as the sight and smell of fish is all around this island inhabited by fisherfolk.
- On the way back it is possible to skip the bus ride and take a shared auto rickshaw instead to Virar station which will cost you Rs 50 per person.
Getting to the Fort
This part is fairly simple. Take the local train till Virar station and walk to the bus stand five minutes away – the signboards are everywhere so just follow them. From the bus stand, there are buses going to Arnala every 15 minutes or so. Hop on to them and for Rs 13 you will reach the Arnala beach in the next 30 minutes.
Most come to Arnala to sit at the beach and enjoy snacks there but the Fort is just a few minutes away. But first you will have to wade right through the water and hop on to a ferry, which is basically a small boat that wobbles as you try to get inside. While the state of these ferries are nothing to boast about, the rides are fun for sure!
The ride is less than five minutes and you will set foot on a small fishing island. Most of those who will be on the ferry with you will be locals getting back from work/school/college and some would even be carrying their fishing baskets along with them.
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The Arnala Fort does not involve trekking more than 2 hours. Also, it is a flat walk exploring the walls of the fort. The trek does not require much fitness. But if you are looking to walk along the coast for long hours, then make sure you carry enough water with you to keep yourself hydrated.
What should I pack for the Arnala Fort trek?
The Arnala fort is well in the middle of civilization. It is also just a one day trek. You will only need the following things.
- Small 20L backpack
- One litre bottle
- A jacket or poncho in case of rain