Karnala fort is located 12kms from Panvel on Mumbai-Goa highway. My sis Akki, Deeku, Their friend Ganesh preethi and I left Panvel at around 8:45 AM on 8th May. In just half an hour we were at the base. The place opens at around 7:00 AM so ideally the trek should start then to avoid the sun. Adults pay Rs 20 and children half of that to enter the bird sanctuary.
Yes, Karnal is also a bird sanctuary that boasts of drango's, owls, Indian grey horn bill and oriole of which I only saw the last. The trek was very moderate and was very nice.
Of course the place would look very lush full after the rains however this was a dry look that has its own charm.
The trek was fun with Deeku around. She kept the atmosphere light by her talks. She would enact TV serials like CID and other Saas-Bahu types that kept us laughing and allowed us to forget the hot sun.
On the top, are caves and ponds that. We did not try to climb the rock as it seemed a little difficult to get down. Ganesh informed me that this place was popular for the bee hives. In olden days villagers would come to gather honey from here. He also spoke of a Marathi movie that has been filmed here on the same subject. We had our packed lunch and relaxed for a while before returning.
At the base is another place worth visiting. Yusuf Meher Ali Centre a cottage industry started by freedom fighter by the same name. The centre has 8 to 9 types of cottage industry right from carpentry; pottery; wormy culture; soap industry; oil extraction; bakery; agriculture etc. The place has helped several people from nearby villages to get employment and self-reliance.
Since we were dehydrated on the way back without sufficient water, the first thing we did was bought several bottles of water there. When we did not find any kokum juice an idea occurred to me that we could buy the essence and make some right there. So we did just that. Added cold water and ice and some sugar from the shop and made instant kokum juice.
We drove around the place and visited the industries like - soap, carpentry, pottery; oil etc. However most of the industries are not working on a Tuesday due to power cut.
With some great trekking experience and a ride back to pre-independence time, we returned back home enlightened a little more than before.