Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Trek to Kaldurg Fort, Palghar

It was a co-incidence that Merwyn and I chatted on the facebook and then and there we decided to work out a trek this Sunday. Both of us got busy with our google search analysis to find a suitable place to trek. Unanimously we decided that we will go to Kaldurg Fort in Palghar. We decided that we will meet up at Andheri station at 4.45 so as to catch local train to Virar station.
Gearing up to catch the local train

I was woken by the sound of alarm from my mobile phone, but I was wandering why the alarm ring is sounding like phone ring and next moment I realized that it is not alarm but in fact my mobile phone which is ringing. I quickly stole a glance on wall clock it dawned upon me that I have overslept and my friend Merwyn has already arrived at the Andheri Station and here I was lying in my bed. I picked up the phone and told him Buddy I will be at the station within 20 minutes. I jumped out of my bed, dashed to the bathroom and quickly got ready, dumping few bottles of water, biscuits etc  into my bag and fled to the Station.

We had planned to catch 4.54am or 4.58am train to Virar from Andheri but thanks to me we ended up taking 5.19 fast local to Virar (Thankfully it was a fast train so there was a possibility that we may be able to catch Virar – Dahanu MEMU).

 Luckily for us and thanks to Western Railway punctuality we reached Virar station at 6.10 and both of us dashed from the platform no 2 to catch the MEMU. It was a small mercy that the MEMU was not so crowded so both of us got the place to sit though it is another matter we got a seat in a compartment full of fish baskets and the stink accompanied us till Palghar Station.
Fish bundles in MEMU train
 It was very necessary for us to catch this 6.15 am train because the next train was at  7.45 am so it could mean a delayed trek.
Memu is nothing but a kind of local train to Dahanu Road. The journey from Virar to Palghar is of hardly 35 mins there are only 3 stops between Virar and Palghar. The train journey though short is pleasant specially when you are passing over the Vaitarna river with fisher folks fishing and dredging .
Fisher folks fishing and dredging .
Palghar Station:
 It was 6.55 am when we reached Palghar Station. I was told that one can see Kaldurg  Fort from the Palghar Station towards the eastern side and I noticed that infact you can actually see it very clearly perhaps this was the reason that when I saw the fort from the station I started to go to the east side of Palghar station when Merwyn reminded me that there is nothing outside  the Palghar east side.One has to take Tumtum and ST Bus from Palghar West. Strange! I thought. So my dear readers when you have to go to Kaldurg Trek get down on the west side of Palghar Station.
We had a quick breakfast of Batatawada at the station and then moved on to the Auto stand which is just outside the station. You will see lots of tumtum and ST buses .

 From here we have to go to Waghoba Khind or Waghoba temple for which we can take a share a tumtum or ST buses going to Manor and get down enroute at Waghoba Temple. As we wanted to start our trek as early as possible so as to beat the heat we didn’t wait for the ST Bus and instead jumped into the first Tumtum we saw. 
Tumtum is nothing but a 8 seater auto for transporting people and it is a wonder how they cramp 13 to 14 people in that compact space. We too were stuffed into this tumtum with the fellow passenger almost breathing over us. Thankfully this journey was hardly of 20 minutes when we saw Waghoba temple. 
Waghoba Temple
The Temple is on the  right hand side if you are going to Manor from Palghar Station. We got down at the temple and paid the auto guy. This short trip cost us only Rs 15 per person.The temple is easily noticeable as there is a huge sign board of Waghoba 

Inside the Waghoba Temple

Waghoba Temple :
 The first thing I noticed at the Waghoba Temple was cluster of 15 to 20 monkeys!! Just ready to pounce on you, here I must caution my readers that one must be very careful with these monkeys because they are aware that travelers carry food with them so they are ready to jump on you. I went inside the temple and had a darshan of Shivling and proceeded to start our trek.
Shivling at Waghoba Temple
Kaldurg Fort Trek starts from this temple, in other words this is a base. Before coming on this trek I had goggled information about this fort and most of the blogs mentioned that there is a possibility of losing your way due to thick bushes and forestation hence I was little apprehensive before the trek matter of fact I told Merwyn that we will hire a guide from the village to take us up, but upon reaching here I realized that there is no village only a solitary temple with a small shop adjoining it. The shop has different kind of dry snacks like chips, biscuits cold drinks. The idea of guide was tossed out our mental window and I understood that we are on our own. The trek starts just from the right side of the temple and for a landmark you can see a water hand pump on the right side of Waghoba temple.
Water Hand Pump

Trek begins:
The first thing that I noticed about this trek was that as soon as we started to climb the initial ascent was quite steep and add summer weather to that one can start panting in first 15-20 mins but thankfully the initial portion is kind of a climb within the trees and shrubs so you are not exposed to direct sunlight. As we were climbing the constant hum of trucks and motorcars from the highway could be heard.
Climb Through The Thick Forest
While climbing on our right side we see a lovely lake and a picturesque landscape.
Lovely lake and a picturesque landscape.
 As we were trekking during the summer time the lake seems to be half filled but I can very well imagine as to how beautiful it would look during the monsoon,

Half filled lake
 we kept climbing taking micro breaks to have sip of water in between. Here again a little tip for my readers Please don’t underestimate your thirst on one hand and summer trek on other hand so do carry at least 3 ltrs of water.
We were very clear about our water management , both of us was carrying at least 2.5 ltrs of water each and we had decided that till we reach halfway mark we should manage in 1 to 2 ltrs of water because we don’t want to be stranded on the top of the mountain with no supplies of water . We had decided that at any given point of time during the trek if our water reserve is  less than 2 ltrs of water we will turn back.

Clouds shielding us from the sun
Merwyn sitting on the
 Black Basalt Rock at the Plateau.
 Luckily for us the Sun god was kind on us and clouds were ever so helpful that they kept shielding us from the sun and in 45 minutes we had reached first plateau. It is nothing but a small portion of flat land consisting of black basalt Rocks.

Kaldurg Fort Behind Me

 Sitting on the rock here one can have a good bird eye view of highway and nearby surrounding area. Both of us rested here for 10-15 mins . had enough water so as to keep us hydrated . Standing here on this plateau with your back to highway one can very clearly see Kaldurg fort.Merwyn and me had a small photo session here

Giving up the Trek at halfway:
 The heat was gradually getting intense and though we had come halfway through I was still not getting the hang of the climb as the route was not well marked. Once or twice we almost went on a wrong route but backtracked again to follow the proper trail. Looking at the Kaldurg Top from the Plateau it looked very far and secondly what was worrying me was that we were not very confident about the route way up.
Kaldurg looked very far from the Plateau 
 At this point both of us gave up the thought of further climb because both of us felt the top is too far, heat is also getting intense so let us call it a day and retreat.
Merwyn looked disappointed because earlier also he had tried but had to give up, He told me that his earlier team had gone further from here and had lost their way ahead in a little distance and hence decided to turn back.
Wilderness of tall dry grass 
Further to make the matter worse there was not a single soul throughout our climb so I was left wondering  as to what will happen if both of get lost in this wilderness. I was not so much worried about getting lost but I was more worried what happens if the water we have gets over due to extension of trek time. Here I want to mention that a trekker always have this bad habit of pushing and backing themselves, we too did the same thing we decided we will move little further and if we are not comfortable then we will retreat. We decided that we will place markers so as not to lose our way. I took some stones and made a small mound so that when we come back it will be a kind of trail marker for us as we were not carrying any chalk or paint for marking.
Trekker on their way again

Trekker on their way again:
Anyway backing ourselves we started to move forward and were surprised to note that the climb here was little easier but the only problem was that the trail was getting more and more dense and at times the branches and shrubs were so much entangled that making the way through it  seems to be a task. Tip for my readers: Don’t wear sleeveless T shirts as there are lots of thorns and narrow way between 2 shrubs.One can see lots of Cactus plants too .
Cactus plants 
 At few points we had to bend holding the branch and moving forward but once we came out of this maze of wilderness the route became little marked and we could see the trail, at one point the trail was going in 2 directions however we chose the one going towards the Fort. We placed few sticks on the other trail because we felt that while coming back we could make a mistake and can go down the wrong trail hence this precaution.
View from first enclave
Finally we were into the last stretch of the climb and soon we reached a small enclave where both of us rested for a while. The view from here was very beautiful; one can see lake, lovely clouds and over all this there was a gentle cool breeze which made us forget all our anxiety and tiredness.
View of Kaldurg top from first stone enclave

 Kaldurg top is hardly a stone throw away from here.After resting for a while and absorbing the beauty of nature we moved toward the top.

View From Kaldurg Top
Kaldurg Fort Top:
There is nothing much on the Top to expore except another stone enclave but little larger than the earlier one with a dry water tank. Another thing on reaching the top I noticed was that how people have made graffiti on the stone proclaiming their love for their girlfriend /boyfriend, Name of club.
Graffiti on the stones
 It is indeed a shame that our heritage is been ruined in such merciless manner. This sheer nonsense hurts me. It is my humble request to my readers to refrain from such practice and if they see some one indulging in such nonsense to discourage such people and if need be confront them.
Empty but littered with beer bottles and plastic bags water tanks
Secondly we noticed that all the three water tanks were dry and littered with empty bottles of water and beer etc.  It would indeed be noble thing if trekking group come together and take initiative for cleaning these tanks as there is no water source at the Top if these water tanks are cleaned the rain water so collected in it can be effectively be used.
Not much fortification at the Top
There is not much fortification at the Top but the cool breeze is abundant in supply. There were lots of holes at the top whose purpose or significance I didn't understand.

Holes in the ground
 We rested on the top for a while and took some picture shots and soon started our return journey.

Descent from the Kaldurg Fort:
Because the climb was steep naturally the descent would have the same problem. Further due to loose pebbles and mud getting down was little trickier at least for Merwyn , However slowly and steadily we descended  Fortunately for us the markers that we had placed while climbing were very helpful while returning, At one point we decided to take a different route but after walking for some time we realized our folly and back tracked and followed our regular route. By the time we reached Waghoba temple the time was 11, 45 am.
Both of us went to the hand pump and had a refreshing face wash, Luckily for us an ST bus for Palghar was passing by which we hailed and both of us hopped in it and was on our way back to Palghar Railway station . Upon reaching Palghar we checked the timing of return train, it was at 2.45 pm and right now the time was 12.45 so we decided to have our lunch and then waited on the platform for the MEMU to come. The MEMU arrived at 2, 45 packed with no place to sit, Standing we came to Virar and from where we took train to Andheri. It was 5,00pm when I reached home.
Finally one more weekend well spent,
 Kudos Weekend Wanderer!!!

Merwyn and me


  1. wooow. nice description ashish jee.... added this to my list. thanks again

  2. Very nice. True that we have many spots in our vicinity which are of great importance from archeological , historical, natural interests. I feel happy that you are making great use of your weekends and telling us about your visits too. Pl continue your wanderings and blogging too.