• Ajaz Shaikh

Prabalmachi & Kalavantin Durg (The Most Beautiful Abandoned Places)

Prabalmachi a quaint little village hidden in the hills is the mid-point of your trek. Prabalmachi offers breathtaking views of the outskirts of Panvel and is also the place where trekkers can relax, freshen up, and have a meal. This is also a great spot to look for fireflies and to listen to the sounds of the night. If you want a clearer picture of the village along with its farms and forests, early morning is the right time.

From Prabalmachi you can witness a stunning sunrise before proceeding toward the Kalavantin. Once you’re at the top, you get a panoramic, picturesque view of the entire valley. From here, you can also see other forts like Peb, Chanderi, Karnala and Matheran. Though there are steps carved out, you have to be slow and careful while making that climb as there is no railing or protection on one side. The slippery, narrow steps make the downward trek quite challenging.


How to reach?

The cheapest and most convenient way to reach Thakurwadi base village of Prabalmachi & Kalavantin Trek for Mumbaikar is through Local Train (Harbour Railway). The nearest railway station to Thakurwadi village is Panvel Railway Station which is well connected to other parts of the country as well. From Panvel, regular buses operate for Thakurwadi Village, one can opt for shared/private autos/rickshaws to reach the base village. It is advisable to take the contact numbers of the autowala so that you‘ll have some alternative for the return trip. Confirm the fare for the return trip beforehand.

I suggest taking 11:08 AM from CSMT which will reach Panvel by 12:28 PM. From Panvel Railway Station till will take you around 25-30 minutes to reach the base village.

If you want to avoid the hassle of changing public transport, you can drive all the way up to Thakurwadi village from Mumbai (48 km – 2 hours)/ Pune (115 km – 3 hours). A parking facility is available at the base village for a small charge.


Stay and Food Options

At Prabalmachi, there are few locals who provide stay options. One can book a tent for which the charges are INR 200 per person (additional for food). Also, you can set up your own tent if you have one.


Day 1: Camping at Prabalmachi

The destination is clearly visible from the base. From the base to the campsite it will take roughly 2-3 hours. The trek is easy with gentle inclines and steps (formed by rocks). But it can be a bit tiresome for those who don't walk very often. So, take a lot of short breaks to catch your breath and take pictures.

The trek to Prabalmachi can easily be completed without any guide. It is DIY mainly due to the number of other trekkers you might find if you do this on a weekend. Even otherwise, the trail is marked. It's hard to get lost when there are no confusing ways. The hike begins with a short walk on a meadow and then you reach a narrow path in the mountain. Early in the trail, you will come across a broad path but gradually the path narrows and also winds through dense foliage the large leaves shield you from the sun and rain.

Prabalmachi is a quaint little village situated halfway up a mountain hidden in the hills at the base of Prabalgad & Kalavantin Durg, filled with greenery and away from hustle and bustle of the city. An ideal campsite for Prabalgad fort and Kalavantin Durg and to experience fireflies at 390 meters above sea level along with the twinkling lights of Panvel, Navi Mumbai. The Prabalgad Fort stands at 2,300 feet in the Western Ghats. The fort was previously known as Muranjan until it was taken over and renamed by the Maratha forces under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s rule. Its sister fort is Irshalgad. Right next to Prabalgad, to its north, lies the steep Kalavantin fort. Prabalmachi Camping provides an amazing view of the two forts standing tall and facing each other. The mild breeze in the evening and the traditional food of the villagers add to the experience.

Major Attractions at Prabalmachi:

  • Scenic view of the city from Prabalmachi / plateau and the cool breeze

  • Enjoy a panoramic view of the Surrounding and the city

  • Amazing hike in the woods

  • Wonderful climbs

  • Camping at the top of the plateau

  • Prabalmachi is a place where you can go throughout the year. Winter & Summer for Trekking & Camping and in Pre & Post Monsoon for Fireflies.


Day 2: Kalavantin Durg - The Climb to Heaven

Kalavantin Durg also called “Stairways to Heaven” is a famous trekking spot near Mumbai which is 500m high and is opposite Prabalgad fort on the northern edge of Prabalmachi. The Durg is listed among the Most Beautiful Abandoned Places.

According to ancient tribes, the fort was built for a queen named ‘Kalavantin’ steps leading up to the fort have been cut into the rock face of the hill and a walk through lush-green thickets will be an awe-inspiring feat with an enthralling view. In the midway of the fort, there is a hidden cave, one hidden room and also two hidden water tank plateaus which can be explored. At every Holi (Shimga) Festival, the locals have a custom of dancing at the top of Kalavantin fort.

The trickiest part of the Kalavantin Durg trek is its last stretch where one needs to traverse through steep stairs and climb a vertical rock patch to make it to the pinnacle which stands at an astonishing height of 685 meters. A small mistake here and you will find yourself somewhere deep in the valleys of Sahayadri’s.


But all the efforts to make it to the pinnacle will be worth it as you will be rewarded with some breathtaking views. The sun, the sky, and the greenery around everything will welcome you with a warm smile. You will see the birds-eye view of Matheran Range and if you are blessed enough with clear weather then you can see the surrounding forts like Chanderi, Irshalgad, and Karnala Fort.


Be cautious and walk slowly as on one side a deep valley stares at you as you climb up the strong steps that have endured the test of time. On the peak, a small rock patch awaits you, scale it and you will be rewarded with magnificent views, a gentle breeze and the feeling of accomplishment. Enthral in the panoramic view of the Sahyadri Mountains from the top, feel the thrill of an exposed climb via the spiralling stairs. Witness a wide variety of flora and fauna as you trek. The mesmerizing scenery from this watchtower will definitely give you a memory to cherish for a lifetime.


Listen To Me:

  • Carry some ready-to-eat food, atleast 2-3 litres of water.

  • Please do not throw bottles or leave any trash behind. It spoils the beauty and environment.

  • Please get a proper trekking shoe with a grip and if possible carry a walking stick also.

  • Talk to the native villagers gently and give respect to them, because you are their guests.

  • Wear full sleeves T-Shirt and Pant, which will protect you from wild insects. It's a jungle, we are bound to bump into these wild insects like leeches.

  • Carry an Id proof.

Snapshot:

Trek Level: Medium Endurance

Base Village: Thakurwadi, Panvel

Time Required: 6-7 hours round way without camping at Prabalmachi.

Region: Thane District


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