Maharashtra is a state with plenty of tall peaks, several having forts on top built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj – one of the greatest rulers India has witnessed. All his forts were built on tall peaks for strategic purposes, but these now stand as marvels that make you wonder how they managed to build these forts at such heights when we struggle for 4 or 5 hours just to climb to the top.
Such one place is Kalavantin Durg, located on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, 16 km from Panvel (last local train stop in Navi Mumbai). We took the Local to Panvel and then hired an auto to Shedung Phatak, the base of the Plateau. It is a 1-hour climb up to the plateau and another 2 hours from there to the peak. It was six in the evening when we started our trek. The sun was setting in the background and we could feel a drastic temperature drop at the base.
We had taken plenty of stops on the way up to admire the view (by which time the sky had darkened), only to reach the top and find out that we had a lot of company- there were already about 20 tents pitched and much more in progress.
We wanted an isolated spot to set camp so we decided to explore a bit and find such a place. As we walked further up, we stumbled upon a village where we asked for suggestions and a villager was kind enough to come along with us to show us few. He took us to few spots up the hill but these did not have a good view, so he took us to the other side of the mountain. This side was very different as not only was it isolated, but had an amazing view of the city below and the surrounding mountains. Since this mini-expedition had taken us an hour and the villager had shown us many spots with a lot of enthusiasm, we offered him something in return for his impromptu guidance. And to our surprise, he refused to take it. That’s the simplicity of these people, they don’t have much but are the most humble and kind people at heart.
We quickly set up the tent and started the fire. Our dinner consisted of Maggi, which was pretty good. We collected bigger logs after dinner and made a fire big enough to keep us warm as the temperature was still dropping.
After everything was set, we just lied down and stargazed in isolation with only the fire to keep us warm. It was very peaceful. We tended to the fire in shifts through the night while others took rest.
Early next morning, we decided to explore the place one last time before we returned, but little did we know that there was one more chance encounter to be had. After trekking around the mountain through narrow paths and thick forest growth, we returned to have breakfast and make for the base. On our way back, we bumped into a group of adventurers from Jack and Hill Adventures. These guys were setting up to do a Mannequin Challenge and invited us to join. And so our trip was complete- with a chilly start and a cheery end.
Editing Credits: Sharon Lewis