Tandulwadi fort, located at Saphale, is easily accessible from Mumbai. The fort gets its name from the base village, Tandulwadi. While the fort at the top no longer exits, do the trek for views of the Vaitarna and Surya rivers.
- Altitude: 1,669 ft
- Time taken: 2.5 hours to ascend; 2 hours to descend
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Mostly rocky path.
- Water sources: None. Carry at least 3 litres of water.
You will see Tandulwadi hill right in front of you once you enter the village. Walk past a playground and a brightly painted school building to your left and gram panchayat office on your right.
The trail to the fort begins from the left side of the gram panchayat office. Walk up this trail for about 30 minutes. This is fairly straightforward and brings you to the first plateau. Here, you find multiple trails which can get confusing. There is one which goes straight ahead, ascending. There’s another which goes to the right.
Take the trail that goes to the right. In 10-15 minutes, the trail disappears and you find yourself amidst rocks. This is the course of a seasonal waterfall. Its tricky to find your way around here. Walk upwards through the rocks and surrounding shrubs till you find the trail again. Once you’re back on the proper trail, you notice arrow marks showing the way to the top (the trail is visible on google maps in case you’re unable to locate it easily). Take a break here if you need to.
The trail ahead is rocky right till the end. It is completely exposed to the sun and there is no shade. Stay well hydrated, especially if you’re here in summer. Once you reach the top, you won’t find the fort, as it vanished a long time ago. A group called “Marathi Yuvak Sangh” has labeled the places on top so visitors get an idea about various points that once existed here – Bale killa, temple, water pond, water cistern, weapon storage room etc. From the top, you can see Vaitarna river and the confluence of Vaitarna and Surya rivers.
The descent is down the same path. Be very careful while descending. The dry leaves scattered around make the rocks slippery. It is also difficult to assess which rock is stable and which isn’t because of the leaves. It takes around 2 hours to reach the village.
Points to note:
- The trail is not shaded hence this trek is best done in monsoon or winter.
- Carry plenty of water since there are no sources on the way.
- Carry your own food
This trek has been researched and documented by Karan Chawda.
Saphale is the second station after Virar. Trains to Dahanu go to Saphale. One can catch MEMU train which starts from Dadar station at 5:15 am. This reaches Saphale at 6.34 am. If you miss this, the Churchgate – Dahanu local which comes to Dadar at 5.41 am is a good option. This reaches Saphale at 7.03 am.
Exit Saphale station on the East side.
ST buses are available from the bus stop every hour. Shared jeeps go up to Varai Phata on the main road, which is 2 km from Tandulwadi village. They charge Rs.10 per seat. If you’re in a large group, it is possible to negotiate with the driver to take you all the way to the village for an additional charge. It takes around 30 minutes to reach Tandulwadi.
If you finish the trek by 2.30-3.00 pm, you can catch the 4.09 pm Dahanu-Dadar local from Saphale.