Chanderi Fort: A moderately difficult trek near Badlapur, Maharashtra which offers mesmerising views from the top

17:30:00 Charles Wood 0 Comments

I look across the table and Nihal looks back with the same question in his eyes, "Where the fuck do we go tomorrow?!"

Take 3 hours from the question, we're sitting down in the newly made Mumbai Football Arena inside the Andheri Sports Complex. It's India v/s Puerto Rica in the first football friendly in Mumbai after 61 years! The match was a whitewash with India outplaying Puerto Rica, a team considerably higher in the FIFA rankings by 4-1! All in all it called for a celebration and I, Nihal, Zubin and Harsh headed to our favourite hideout, Bottles in Versova with Shawty planning to join us later.

A couple of drinks down, we start discussing the places we can go to for a trek the next day. The first one to cross our minds was the stunningly risky Harihar fort. It had been on our agenda since ages. As fate would have it, Zubin asked us not to go for that trek as he wanted to be a part of it and he had prior commitments for the next day. The next best option was straightaway rejected by Zubin again, the Harishchandragad trek! With options running out, Nihal did a timely miracle by pulling out a list of treks we prepared last year. Chanderi was the lucky one.

I woke up early the next morning, with the clock saying 6:30 AM, I called up Nihal and Harsh and was really glad to know that none of them had backed out after yesterday's drinking scenes! Nihal reached my building by 7:40 and we were joined by Shawty 5 minutes later. A quick google search told us that our base village was going to be Chinchavali near Badlapur. We set out for Badlapur by 8:00 AM. The journey took us about 2 hours by the Airoli bridge and the Thane- Badlapur road. The last patch of the road to to Chinchavali is more of a martian terrain.

We asked the locals for directions and they guided us to a small school. We parked our car here and on enquiring further with the locals they asked us to take a left from a small house and then take a right from a big tree to go up through the forest. We somehow missed this right and kept going straight till we could see a quarry on the left side and a small hillock covered with vegetation on the right. This took a sizeable half an hour of our time in the hot sun. We had to head back to the small house to find our way again and we found it to be a small trail leading upwards on the hillock. The trail seemed to be very rarely used as there was a dense growth of vegetation on either sides.

After about 45 minutes on this uphill trail we reached a small plateau from where we could see the two peaks clearly. The Gigantic Chanderi on the left and the Mhasmal fort on the right. As soon as we saw it, we knew it well that the way to the fort had to be from the col between the two forts and then a ridge walk to either of them.
Chanderi and Mhasmal forts from the small flat land.
We took a halt at the plateau even though it was very sunny. We couldnt help but look up in awe at the two amazing mountains in front of us while sipping on water. It was a perfect opportunity to capture a time lapse video of the clouds moving in from the peaks and I did manage to get a good one. We moved from there after 15 minutes and continued our trek upwards. The initial trail was a simple walk through the forest till we reached a small stream. We were sort of momentarily lost. We could see the fort in front of us but the path was taking us away from it, or atleast that's how it looked from there. Fortunately for us, someone had marked the trail by piling a few stones. The first marker was right through the small stream and these markers led us to a small waterfall which we had to climb. The path was very slippery and Shawty had a few falls here but he made the most of it by getting a quick dip!


Once over the waterfall we had to walk through the stream a bit further till we saw a marker on the left side of the stream that would take us above it. We followed it for about half an hour till we reached a point where we couldn't see the trail anymore. Fortunately (and unfortunately) we saw a hint of plastic on the trail indicating that it had been used recently. We kept onwards and upwards for an hour till we reached a crossroad. The left takes you to Chanderi, the right takes you to Mhasmal and the straight downhill path takes you through a descent to Panvel.
Taken at the crossroad with Panvel in front of us, Chanderi on the left and Mhasmal on the right.
We took a left from the crossroad for the Chanderi fort. It was pretty windy here which was a relief from the sun. The path from here onwards while being wide, is exposed on either sides to valleys and has to be crossed carefully. From here it takes about 20 minutes to reach the base of the foothill and the caves.
The Hariyali Monk against the backdrop of the Chanderi pinnacle.
To reach the caves, one has to carefully traverse the mountain from the right side. This side is exposed but has a protective railing around. The caves are pretty big and can easily house upto 50 people or more. There's a temple inside the caves and some utensils and a stove. The caves were some what unnaturally calm and one can see the peaks of Panvel from here. One can easily make out the twin peaks of Kalavantin Durg and Prabalgad and the massive Irshalgad. I and Nihal spent some time at the caves, clicking pictures and basking in the glory it offered while Shawty decided to wait for us at the base of the peak. We saw the coolest toilet we've seen till date right outside the caves.
Coolest toilet ever!
The way to the top lies a bit further from the caves. We did not try it out as the trail that went ahead was a risky traverse with full exposure on the right side and the mountain on the left. There are no railings beyond the caves. The way up is mostly full of scree and might need rock climbing equipment or ropes to say the least. As we were not equipped with any, we decided to turn back and to join Shawty for a quick snack.
Peaks on the Panvel side. One can clearly see the twin peaks of Prabalgad and Kalavantin Durg and the massive Irshalgad.
We met him right where we left him. While we were away, Shawty had made a good shelter for himself under the natural shade that the hill offered to him. He had brought some home made sandwiches which were delicious! After helping ourselves to the sandwiches, we clicked a few pictures of the neighbouring peaks and a few selfies. We decided to go live on Facebook a feature that we had not tried out till date. With a few goof ups and after searching for a good spot with network, we were able to go live with a video check in on Facebook.
Taken at the base of the towering Chanderi pinnacle.
About 20 minutes later we started descending at 3:00 PM. The sun was still too strong to let this be an easy downhill descent. We stopped occasionally for water breaks. The patch from the base of the peak to the crossroad was pretty slippery because of the mud. Once we reached that, it was a 1 hour descent to the plateau that we halted at while ascending. We halted for 5 minutes here to take in the view and rehydrate ourselves. Another hour ahead, we were nearing the base village when we caught the sun going down behind these beautiful peaks in the same mountain ranges. We couldnt help but speculate which peaks were these and that became a topic of our discussion on the rest of our walk till the base village.
The peaks in question lit by the setting sun.
We were all smiles when we saw Shawty's car and we quickly changed our footwear and hopped right in. We stopped for a couple of beers near Kalyan and had a wholesome meal of butter chicken and Tandoori Roti. All of us were pretty tired and we spent most of our journey back in power naps. We reached Andheri at 10:00 PM. We parted our ways by thanking and wishing each other well on completing another successful trek. I can say for myself and I'm sure for the others too, we had probably the best sleep in ages after that.

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