‘The fears you don’t face become your limits’. Take a deep breath Abhi!! You will be able to make it to the top. You are a lover of challenges. Aren’t you? Those lines were constantly beating in my head when I was climbing the Kalavantin Durg. Abhi, is Kalavantin Durg trek so difficult? It may be, but this time the challenge for me was not about the toughness of the trek. It was something new!!
Kalavantin Durg as seen from Prabalgad Fort
While on a trek, for the first time ever in my life, I was feeling dizzy. I am not sure of the reason but this had never happened to me. From the beginning of the trek itself, I thought of quitting it hundred times all along the way to the top, but then my attitude towards travelling never allows me to do so. I know, I shouldn’t be glad about this attitude but that is how I travel.
Thakurwadi village Kalavantin Durg Trek start point
Now talking about the Fort, Kalavantin is a high pinnacle located on the northern edge of Prabal Plateau in the Panvel region of Maharashtra. 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.
Rock cut stairs which lead to Kalavantin Durg top
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, 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 than you can see the surrounding forts like Chanderi, Irshalgad, and Karnala Fort.
Kalavantin Durg as seen from Prabalmachi
How to reach Kalavantin Durg Trek
The best and cheapest way to reach Thakurwadi village (base village of Kalavantin Durg Trek) is via railways. The nearest railway station to Thakurwadi village is Panvel railway station which is well connected to other parts of the country via railways. From Panvel, regular buses operate for Thakurwadi Village (15 kms – 25-30 minutes – INR 30). Also, one can opt for Tum-Tum (shared autos) to reach the base village.
Kalavantin trek route till Prabalmachi
If you want to avoid the hassle of changing the public transport, you can drive all the way up to Thakurwadi village from Mumbai (48 kms – 1 hour)/ Pune (115 kms – 2 hours). Parking facility is available at the base village for a small charge. For renting options from Pune, you can compare prices at various bikes rental websites like Royal Brothers, wheelstreet, sabrentkaro, and rentrip.
Parking space at Thakurwadi village
Difficulty level of Kalavantin Durg Trek
In terms of difficulty, I would rate Kalavantin trek as a moderate level trek. It generally takes around 3 to 5 hours to complete the trek depending on an individual’s fitness level. The last patch to reach the pinnacle is what adds to the difficulty in completing the trek. A small mistake while ascending/descending the rock-cut stairs can result in a free fall from thousands of feet.
The last rocky patch to reach Kalavantin Durg top
My journey to Kalavantin Durg Trek
Curiosity can lead us to do many things; it can make you wander endlessly. It was this curiosity that brought me to this giant structure known as “The Kalavantin Durg”. Looking at the photos of the rock-cut stairs at Kalavantin on the internet; I was a bit sceptical on how an individual can make it to the very top passing through this dangerous stretch of the steep stairs.
Steep stairs on Kalavantin Durg Trek
I along with one of my friend started from Pune around 6 am. We decided to travel by bike, as Thakurwadi, the base village of the trek was just around 2 hours of drive from our home. With experiencing the beautiful view of the sunrise on the way, we made it to Thakurwadi Village at around 8:00 am.
Kalavantin Durg Trek route
Keeping in mind that it gets very hot during the afternoon; without wasting any time we began with the trek. The initial stretch is a muddy trail with the terrain being mostly flat. As you trek a little further, you will reach a checkpoint where one needs to show an ID card and fill the required details in a register. An entry fee of INR 50/person is also charged; not sure though why it is taken.
Kalavantin Durg Trek starting stretch
After walking for around 15-20 minutes, you reach a point where there are 2 routes. One of the routes is shorter but much steeper compared to the other. Also, the loose gravel on the shorter route adds to the difficulty in climbing. So choose wisely!! As we were thinking about which route to take; meanwhile I started feeling dizzy.
The shortcut route to reach Kalavantin Durg
I took my shoes off and decided to lie down for a few minutes in hope of getting better. But, unfortunately, things weren’t improving. With the sun already beating down, we decided to continue with the trek at a slow pace. After so many pits stop all along the trail, we made it to the Prabalmachi.
A board showing directions of Kalavantin Durg and Prabalgad
Prabalmachi is a small village that lays en-route and it is here where the camping is done generally. The views of Kalavantin Durg from here were just outstanding. From Prabalmachi, trekking through some forest patches for around 15-20 minutes will take you to the point from where the rock-cut stairs start.
The rock-cut stairs began here
The rock-cut stairs aren’t that dangerous as they seem to be in the videos on YouTube. One needs to be just a bit careful while traversing them. Been already done with the Dhak Bahiri cave trek a few weeks ago, I felt that Dhak Bahiri cave trek had comparatively a much tougher route to traverse. To climb the last patch of Kalavantin Durg, one needs the assistance of a rope.
Ropes used to climb rocky patch on Kalavantin Durg Trek
There were tears in my eyes as I made it to the top, tears of happiness that I didn’t quit. I knew somewhere deep in my heart that it wasn’t a wise decision to continue with the trek in such health conditions. But I don’t regret; because that’s how I travel. From the top, the views of surrounding regions were just breathtaking. I meditated for about an hour at the top before we began with the descent.
A trek which could have been completed in around 4 hours, took us around 6 hours to complete. All thanks to my bad health. Anyways, I was happy to have at least complete it and return home with so many memories.
Prabhalgad as seen on Kalavantin Durg Trek
Stay and food options at Kalavantin Durg Trek
At Prabalmachi, there are few locals who provide stay options. One can also book a tent for which the charges are 200 INR /person. For tent bookings, you may contact Vaibhav snacks corner (9870943281), Hotel Soham (9923726930) and Samarth Dhaba (8879464073). Also, you can set up your own tent if you have one. All along the trail, there are small dhabas where you can get the basic food items. Some of them do provide proper lunch/dinner as well.
Camping at Prabalmachi on Kalavantin Durg Trek
Best time to visit Kalavantin Durg
The best time to visit the Kalavantin Durg is from October to February as the weather is pleasant and the surroundings are still green. I would suggest you to avoid doing this trek in the monsoon season as the last stretch of the steep stairs is a bit risky to traverse during that time. If you are still planning to do it in monsoon, I would recommend you to skip doing the final stretch. In summers, it gets very hot in the daytime so you may avoid visiting it.
Lush green valleys as seen on Kalavantin Durg Trek
Travel always sparks my imagination, feeds my curiosity and makes me feel more human. You see some of us are drawn to the mountain the way the moon draws the tide. Both the great forest and mountains live in my bones. The time I was enjoying myself in natural swing I got an intimate feeling, feeling of touching the sky, a connection towards the universe. This experience helped me to be humbler, more purified and more changed.
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Are you looking for some essential travel gear? Check out my blog post on What’s in my Backpack.
Looking for more weekend gateway options near Pune and Mumbai? Check out these blog posts:
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- Andharban jungle and Devkund Waterfall Trek – Time to get lost in the dense forest
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- A two-day trip to Torna Fort and Madhe Ghat Waterfall(INR 400)
- Matheran – Asia’s only automobile free hill station
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- A road trip to Harihareshwar, Shrivardhan and Diveagar Beach from Pune (INR 1200)
- Kalsubai Peak – Trek to the highest peak of Maharashtra (INR 600)
- Korigad Fort Trek – Exciting one day trek near Pune Mumbai (INR 300)
- Bendewadi, Laalwadi and Jagtap waterfalls – Go get lost in the land of waterfalls!! (INR 300)
- Experience the sunrise from Lohagad Fort near Pune/Mumbai (INR 150)
- Visapur Fort Trek – Thrilling one day trek near Pune Mumbai (INR 200)
- Rajmachi Fort Trek, adventurous one day trip near Mumbai and Pune (INR 350)
- 12-hours monsoon road trip exploring Tamhini Ghat (INR 300)
- An exciting road trip to Purandar Fort from Pune (INR 300)
- Tung Fort Trek – A journey through the clouds (INR 250)
- Nashik City – An exciting two day trip from Pune/Mumbai/Surat (INR 1500)
- Rajgad Fort Trek – An exciting one-day trek near Pune/Mumbai (INR 200)
- Katraj to Sinhagad night trek – An exciting trek near Pune (INR 250)
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