- The Kalavantin Fort trek is a moderate one, easily accessible from both Mumbai and Pune.
- Do this trek to experience the enormous Prabalmachi plateau, a thrilling summit climb and waterfalls if you’re trekking in monsoon.
- Altitude: 2,300 ft
- Time taken: 3-5 hours each way
- Trek gradient: Gradual ascent
- Trail type: Rocky and muddy trails through a forest
- Water sources: None. Carry 2-3 litres of water
Base village to Prabalmachi plateau (1,700 ft) – 1 to 1.5 hours
The trek begins from the parking area at Thakurwadi, the base village. The village is quite big but the start of the trail consists only of a few hutments. The walk through Thakurwadi lasts roughly 10 minutes, sometimes through slushy, muddy roads and sometimes inside the compound of villagers’ houses. This is not a marked trail. If in doubt, check with villagers for directions to the trail.
After this short walk through the village, the trail to the plateau becomes a gradual ascent up a stone-paved road (used very infrequently for transporting things to Prabalmachi). There are various shortcuts along the sides of this road that can be explored. You encounter beautiful flora and fauna along this path, including many trees and flowers on shrubs such as karvi, and hummingbird.
As you climb, the view remains constant on one side – mountains, villages and farms. On the other side you see the M shaped peak.
On your right, at one glance you can see seven to eight waterfalls on adjacent mountains. After heavy rains, you can see as many as 12-14 waterfalls.
About 1.5 hours later, you reach Prabalmachi plateau. The plateau is larger than a football ground and is covered with yellowish green grass. There aren’t many trees here. Just the peak to one side and the view of the Panvel district and surrounding mountains to the other.
Prabalmachi (1,700 ft) to Col (V-shaped junction) – 1 to 1.5 hours
From Prabalmachi, there are two routes – one leading to Prabalgad and the other (to the left) leading to Kalavantin Durg.
The terrain is different from before; it now becomes a muddy, rocky road. The vegetation alongside the trail includes grasslands and moderately tall trees (5-6 ft tall). On all sides are beautiful views of lush green mountains with multiple waterfalls.
Col to summit – 30 mins
This stretch starts with a short but thrilling transverse walk. You trek on a 1-1.5 ft wide rocky patch for less than 5 mins. The valley sloping away on one side makes you aware of the altitude. This is followed by a 2-min ascent on rocks before you reach a set of steep narrow steps cut into the rock. Be extremely cautious here as you could be hurt badly if you fall. Climbing the steps will take about 15-20 minutes. This is followed by a short climb over a rock about 15 ft high to reach the summit.
View from the top:
The summit is a small oval-shaped area where a saffron flag has been mounted. The panoramic view from here includes Prabalgad, Chanderi, Peb Matheran, Irshalgad and Ulhas river.
Exploration on the way:
There are five caves on the hill. Two of these caves can be explored though there is no marked route. Take the small trail you see during the ascent from Prabalmachi to the V-shaped junction. The first of the caves is about 15 mins off the main trail and very easy to find. The second cave is much farther and takes you close to Prabalgad Fort. It is not advisable to try to reach the second cave, as the trail is unmarked and rarely taken by trekkers.
The first cave is simply a 25-m tunnel leading to an 8” by 6” box structure of 4 ft height. Two other caves can be spotted from the trail if you look carefully at the summit. The fifth cave is on the opposite side of the trail and is explored by rappelling down from the summit (under trained guidance).
It is possible to make this an overnight trek by camping overnight at Prabalmachi. However, there are no water sources. So ensure you carry sufficient water and packed food.
This trek has been documented by Mugdha Bhusari & Sneha Rao, with inputs from Dharin Doshi and Sourabh Ratnaparkhi.
By road from Mumbai
- Drive till Shedung Phata Panvel on the Old Pune Expressway
- Take a turn towards Thakurwadi Village (Landmark: Hanuman temple, take left at the V and go straight till the base).
- Parking charges:
- Two-wheeler: Rs 10
- Four-wheeler: Rs 20
- Use Harbour line to reach Panvel station or Mumbai-Roha suburban line to get down at Panvel.
- At Panvel ST stand (10 min walk from the station), use share-autos (tumtums) that ply continuously from Panvel to neighbouring villages to get to Thakurwadi (Cost 50-100 per person. Needs negotiation)
Alternatively, you can take a State Transport bus till the base village Thakurwadi, a one-hour ride. (Bus fare is Rs. 15 per person. Frequency one bus in 2 hours)
Once you reach Thakurwadi, the road to the base is marked. You can negotiate with the auto-driver to drop you till the base.
In monsoon, reach as early as possible to avoid crowds.