Saturday, July 9, 2016

Karnala Bird Sanctuary and Fort

We made a nice little visit to Karnala Fort on a Saturday last week. It's so close to Navi Mumbai and yet so many centuries away in time.



We had passed the sanctuary many times while visiting Pali Ganpati near Pen and this visit was many years overdue.

Getting here is actually quite easy -- less than an hour by road -- this is on the Panvel -- Alibaug highway -- so there are tonnes of buses from Panvel ST Depot. There are also the 12 seater massive auto-rickshaws and if you haven't been in one of those, its worth a trip in those.  Will be interesting to know what type of engines these babies use.

This was the week of onslaught of the monsoon, so it was amazing warm monsoon rain and as we got closer there was also mist and fog. It was green and wet all over.

My research had dismissed the climb as an "easy" one: I can attest that in the monsoon rain and fog it is definitely close to the top rating on difficulty. The paths are streams of either bogs or mossy rocks -- each having their own fun hazards. Also, a lot of the risky climbing at the top which has support railing during the dry weather, will be there to greet you only from a fallen wayside so there are a few hazards. But this shouldn't daunt you since you're likely to be surrounded by singing dancing dare-devil fellow trekkers in this season.

Karnala fort overlooks a key pass in this part of the Ghats which connects the hinterlands to the sea -- key trade-routes to Salsette and the seas beyond to inner Pune and further.

It was built by the Yadavs and the Tughlaqs in the 13th and 14th century. It has changed hands between the Gujarat Sultanate, the Nizam Shahi, the Portuguese, Marathas and Brits. I'm sure the Siddis from Murud must have had their eyes on this at some point.

The shape of the hill-top is fascinating It replicates your mood giving you a thumbs up when you finish a couple of tough climbs, but also taking the opportunity of showing a "up yours" when you're struggling.

There are pretty white crabs in the stream-paths -- very interesting. I will trust the other blogs that there are beautiful birds -- they were not the party birds of Bombay -- the blaring stereos of some of the trekkers didn't seem to attract them over. Sumeet music's Shantabai still has some place in Maharashtra to gain more fans -- India is such a growth market!

The initial climb is a tough one, the middle is a ridge -- a reward with great views. Then you hit the devi mandir. Talk about location-location-location -- make sure you take every blessing points you can manage -- you will be using each last one on the last ninety-nine yards to the top -- where it goes from 30% to 70% climb. 

The Gate to the outer walls is a true relief (poorly practiced pun intended). There are some dates and timelines on this one -- guess Brick Lane is not the only graffiti hub.

The water cisterns are amazing. At this point, I pointed to some villages from the top and my companion asks me to control my stomach bug meds. He clearly thought I had a case of the Doollally tap (been meaning to use this one for a while! hah!). Deluding. But no, I pointed out that if you look closely into the mist, there is actually an earth on which this fort rests.

From the top you can really appreciate the control this fort would have given the incumbent in seasons like this. 

The trip to top was awesome. This time the trip to the bottom was also going to be fun! I applied some religious side-jumps to get going. Then I get this deja vu that this feels awefully similar to what I do in some kind of descent sport -- oh yes skiing -- so started to jump to slice the slope in back and forth angle slices -- this nearly doubled the speed of the descent. The surface friction with the water and muck made it very similar. This was true fun!

This is a truly enjoyable short trek, the rewards, especially on a rainy day are like a short on Lehman. There is some suffering around you with those who didn't expect the drops but you can enjoy it if you adapt to it. Ok that was a bad analogy!

I hope more Mumbaikars explore this part of our barrio. Es muy bonita!

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