Karnala Bird Sanctuary and Fort, Panvel, Maharashtra

Karnala Bird Sanctuary and Fort, Panvel, Maharashtra

8:20 am we were at Bandra and 9:45 am we were at Palsape Phata, Mumbai – Pune Highway having breakfast at Shree Datta Snacks Corner.

Rs. 80 for two Misal Pav and Rs. 10 for a tea.

10:30 am we reached Karnala Bird Sanctuary.

Bandra to Karnala Bird Sanctuary 53 km distance by Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark motorbike.

At the entrance of the sanctuary we parked our motorbike and paid entry fees for two including parking ticket. Rs. 55 the cost. And little further we paid Rs. 10 for two people to co-operate in cleaning the sanctuary plastic and garbage free – very important.

Ganesh Jadav is a guide and he was ready to join to enhance our knowledge about the park. He charged us Rs. 100. We enter the sanctuary area and turn right and cross a wooden bridge and a watch tower. We climb and saw the first glimpse of Karnala Fort and the lush green surroundings around. WoW – natural 100%. I was happy.

Currently there were no birds around because it is August month and rainy season but yes, tourist were there specially youngsters. Ganesh advised us best time to visit is in the month of December to watch birds.

As we walk further the guide enhanced our knowledge about some medicinal plants – Ghaneri, Apta, Murudsing. And further we walk he showed us more plants such as Palash, Sagwan (teak), Ukshi, Bahava, Safed Kuda, Kadol, Asana, Dekamali, Lokhandi.

He also enhanced our knowledge by rubbing leaves of teak commonly known as Sag (साग) in Marathi language. He said the leaves are used for making dyes.

During the walk we also saw a crab and then many crabs crossing muddy paths and big spiders on trees.

As birds were not there guide further enhanced our knowledge about birds like Yellow Footed Green Pigeon, Indian Grey Hornbill, Black Drongo, Golden Backed Woodpecker, Small Blue Kingfisher, Golden Oriole and many other present during winter season. The display boards are also present nicely written details about birds. It is a home to variety of birds.

During walks few times we cross small stream of water too. In short a walk inside a green sanctuary away from the city life is a nice pleasant experience to refresh ourselves.

We stop at a canteen. Read canteen menu list and had Batata Bhaji with Tea (Rs. 20+ Rs. 7) and Nimbu Sharbat (Rs. 10). Excellent – the taste.

There are two rest houses inside the sanctuary and one is available for general public but in-advance permission is required from forest officials.

We requested guide to join us for Karnala Fort trek but he was not interested and suggested not to go because of mud due to rain but we said we will try and if not possible to reach fort we will return and we walk while saying bye to him and paying Rs. 100. thanks.

It took us one hour and fifteen minutes to reach Karnala fort from the base nearby canteen. There were many trekkers on the way. Though I have been to few treks, this one will be one of the best trek also because I find it very natural with no man made modern paths. Just pure natural as you walk up and up. Yes, the climb initially for half an hour is steep and then later onwards steep and flat.

Just before the fort is Goddess temple. Prayer and we walk further towards fort.

(History of Karnala fort narrated in English by Rahul Patil – a friend from Pune, Maharasthra)

Karnala fort is situated on the Mumbai-Goa National Highway, about 10-12 kms from Panvel. Its altitude is 445 mtrs above sea level. Its peak is a thumb shaped massive rock soaring high in the sky.
In the old days this fort was used to guard the trade routes from Panvel and Boar ghat to ports like Mumbai and Chaul in Maharashtra.
From the Kingdoms of Bhoj, Shilahar & Devagiri to the rule of Marathas and then the British, the fort has witnessed various regimes.
In the year 1968 it was declared as a bird sanctuary.
From Karanala fort one can see peaks like Matheran, Prabalgad, Rajmachi, Malang-gad & Manikgad.

In the past 1200 years the fort has witnessed various regimes.
Rulers of the fort
1248 – 1318 – Yadavs of Devagiri
1318 – 1347 – Muslim rulers of Daulatabad.
After this it was under the Gujarat rulers.
1540 – It was taken by the troops of Amhednagar
Gujarat rulers regained the fort with the help of Portugese.
1670 – Shivaji Maharaj took over the fort from Mughals. But later he hand it over to Mirza Raje Jaising in a treaty signed after the battle of Purandar. Shivaji Maharaj again took the fort.
Aurangazeb took it over after the death of Shivaji Maharaj.
1740 – Peshwa rulers.
1803 – British took control of the fort and it remained in their control thereafter.
The grandfather of revolutionary Vasudeo Balwant Phadke had been in charge of the fort till 1818.

You know the view from the fort is breath-taking. Panvel, Raigad and surroundings area are lush green with forest and reservoir. What I found the best and exciting was the return downwards via steps from the main fort. One can watch deep valley on both sides as you climb downwards. The stairs are little narrow and thick but thanks to Sanctuary officials for making railings around the stairs because maybe without railings for many it was not possible to climb or climb downwards. Thanks again.

We started climbing down around 1:35 pm and it took us one hour (2:40 pm) to reach the base.

Total I guess 3 hours is minimum requirement to and fro trek to Karnala fort.

Very interesting, very natural. I will surely visit again in December to watch birds.

We met Ganesh Jadav – The guide again and he further enhanced our knowledge that on 26th January, 15th August and 1st May there is no entry fee inside the sanctuary for the visitors. FREE FREE FREE.

We also question another visitor how to reach Karanala Bird Sanctuary if coming via Panvel Railway Station?

He said one has to take a bus from Panvel bus depot nearby Panvel Railway Station. Any bus going towards Alibagh, Pen will drop you at Karnala Bird Sanctuary. Thank you – said I.

While returning we were very hungry.

3:30 pm we stop at Himalayan Punjab Family Restaurant, Palaspe Phata, Mumbai – Pune Highway and had Chinese Sezwan Friend Rice, Chinese Lollypop and a cold drink. A fruitful visit and a happy tour. Thanks to Mahesh – a friend who joined me on tour to Karanala Bird Sanctuary and then to trek to fort. Thanks again.