Karnala Fort: Trekking through history in the raigad district

Karnala Fort: Trekking through history in the raigad district

A hill fort in Raigad district, around 10 km from Panvel and 65 km from Mumbai, is called Karnala Fort, also known as Funnel Hill. The Karnala Bird Sanctuary's fort, a protected piece of land, is a beautiful place to enjoy a brief and straightforward hike. One fort at the Karnala fort is on a higher level than the other, making two forts.

The trek to the fort's summit takes at least two hours if you're in excellent shape and a little less if you're returning. The path is simple and not too steep however, it gets exceedingly slippery during the monsoon season. There is a shortcut to the top of the fort that saves the trip by around half an hour for more courageous hikers; however, this trail is very steep and should only be attempted if you are comfortable climbing. We recommend that everyone carry at least 2 liters of water and appropriate boots for the trip.

A 125-foot-tall basalt pillar known as Pandu's Tower is located in the center of the upper level. When the fort was inhabited, this pillar acted as a watch tower however, it is now in ruins. Here, fresh water is always available thanks to a water reservoir. The Prabalgad and Rajmachi forts may be seen on the northern side from the summit of the fort. Two inscriptions, one in Marathi and the other in Persian, can be seen on the fort. On the bottom gate's interior side, there is an illegible Marathi inscription with no apparent date. The upper gate's Persian lettering, which reads Syed Nuruddin Muhammad Khan, Hijri, is most likely from the Mughal Empire.

History of Karnala Fort:

The Karnala Fort, with its intriguing history, was initially constructed by the Devagiri Yadavs and the Tughlaq rulers prior to the 1400s. Over time, it witnessed changes in ownership, first falling into the hands of the Gujarat Sultanate before being claimed by the Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar in 1540.

During this historical period, the Gujarat Sultans sought assistance from Dom Francisco de Menezes, the commanding officer of the Portuguese, in their quest to retake Karnala Fort. In response, a contingent of 500 soldiers marched towards the formidable fort, successfully recapturing it. Although the fort remained under the control of the Gujarat Sultans, it had a Portuguese garrison.

However, the Gujarat Sultans later abandoned Karnala Fort, ceding complete control to the Portuguese. This development incited the wrath of the Nizam Shah, who dispatched a formidable force of 5,000 men in an attempt to regain the fort but failed in their endeavor. Eventually, recognizing that Karnala Fort held little strategic value to them, the Portuguese Viceroy agreed to return it to Nizam Shah in exchange for an annual payment of INR 17,500.

How to reach :

Rail: The closest railway station, Panvel, is a significant station on both the busy Mumbai-Roha line and the Mumbai suburban line. YATRI app is the best way to check train update. To get to the Karnala fort from the station, there are taxis and autorickshaws available.

Road: Karnala is located along National Highway 17, often known as the Mumbai-Goa Expressway. State-run buses stop at the sanctuary entrance on their way to Pen, Alibag, Murud, etc. Another way to go to Karnala is by taking a shared auto-rickshaw that often departs from Panvel and travels to nearby villages. You may take taxis from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, or Thane to go to Karnala.

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Best time to visit:

If you are prepared for the severe and constant rains of the monsoon season, this is an excellent time to visit Karnala Fort. During the monsoon, the entire bird sanctuary around the fort turns lush green, and if you can see through the clouds from the top of the fort, the landscape is gorgeous green. Bring good-grip shoes and a waterproof jacket in case of severe rain and a difficult, muddy hike to the fort.

If you don't want to go during the rainy season, winter (November-mid-February) is still a good time to visit. Even during the day, the weather is pleasant, and the view from the summit is unobstructed.

Dated September 14, 2023