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Karnala Fort – Near Mumbai, Ideal first trek

Overview of Karnala Fort

Karnala- the funnel hill

Karnala fort also known as the Funnel Hill is a hill fort in Raigad district, about 10 km from Panvel city and 65 km from Mumbai. The fort is a protected property which is situated within the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. It offers a great opportunity to enjoy a refreshing, easy trek.

Karnala fort consists of two forts out of which one is at a higher level and other is at a lower level.

History of Karnala Fort

The fort was likely constructed before 1400, under Devagiri Yadavs(1248–1318) and the Tughlaq rulers (1318–1347). Karnala was the capital of the north Konkan districts of their respective empires. It later fell under the command of the Gujarat Sultanate. Although Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar took over the fort on 1540.

The Gujarat sultans then requested the help of the Dom Francisco de Menenzes the commanding officer of the Portuguese at Bassien(modern day Vasai) to win it back. He ordered 500 of his soldiers to Karnala fort and they were able to capture it.

The Gujarat sultans fled to Vasai, surrendering the fort to the Portuguese. The loss of Karnala enraged Nizam Shah, who sent 5,000 men to reclaim the fort and the surrounding countryside. But later The Portuguese viceroy agreed to return it to Nizam Shah. But for an annual payment of Rs. 17,500

Shivaji Maharaj conquered it from the Portuguese in 1670 by building breastworks as he advanced. After his death in 1680 Aurangzeb took over the fort. After this the Mughals occupied it for some time after which it in 1740 with the rise of the Peshwas of Pune it went to them.

It remained under the command of killedar (garrison commander) Anantraob until a colonel Prother won the fort and established the rule of the British East India Company there in 1818.

Best time to Visit Karnala Fort

Karnala Fort during monsoon.

Monsoon:  The whole bird sanctuary around the fort becomes beautifully green during the monsoon. You may get a view from the top of the fort through the clouds, the surrounding area is lush green.
Be prepared for heavy rains and a very slippery, muddy trek to the fort. Dont forget wear shoes with a good grip, and carry a waterproof jacket. 

Birds of Karnala.

Winter for bird watching: At the onset of rains, one can see the paradise flycatcher, the shama or the magpie robin. And also the Malabar whistling thrush which is one of the most melodious birds.
In winter, the migrant birds take over. These include the blue-headed rock-thrush, the bluethroat, the red-breasted flycatcher, the ashy minivet, the black-headed cuckoo-shrike and a host of others.

Trekking to Karnala Fort

Today, the ruins of the fort are a popular destination for hiking and tourism. It is a trek of 1 hour from the bottom of the hill. There are 5 resting places on the pathway made by the forest department.

Karnala Fort Iron railing at the top

The final climbing steps near the entrance of the fort are made safe by iron railings. It is not advisable to cook food at the base of the pinnacle, as the smell of smoke irritates the Honey Bees.
The water from the southernmost rock-cut water cistern is potable. First aid is available at the forest guest house.

Trekking during the monsoon is really an exhilarating experience

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