Chanderi Fort Trek
Chanderi Fort Trek is situated near Thane in Badlapur region of Maharashtra. It is not actually a fort as there are no fortifications but there are some water cisterns, caves and rock cut steps. As The route to Chanderi fort is very difficult it seems that this place was used as a military base.
The history for this fort is not very well documented, however it is worth mentioning as the jewel in the crown of forts in the district of Raigad. Remnants of fortification can be found near the caves. This is probably the only feature that may classify Chanderi as a fort. In 1656 Shivaji Maharaj won over all territory up to Kalyan-Bhiwandi-Rairi This was when this fort came under the rule of the Marathas. Low water storage areas and absence of significant constructions that rather than a fort, this was possibly a military base.
The shape of Chanderi is very unique and can be easily seen from anywhere as a really beautiful mountain. It looks like a table top with a lot of pinnacles clubbed together. The pinnacle is highly weathered because of erosion from high heat and cool rains. Mhaismal or Mhasmal is Chanderi’s twin pinnacle and the two are seperated from the Khind or col which is the lowest point. One can see a path going towards Mhasmal from the Col, however it is full of scree and ends abruptly. The Khind is around 470m above sea level where as the caves of Chanderi is around 650m.
The caves and rock cut steps are similar to ones on Kalavantin Durg or Gorakhgad. There is an idol of lord Shiva inside the cave. A reservoir of potable water is very close to the cave. Water in this cistern is potable but available only till the month of October. The cave can comfortably house 8 to 10 people at a time making it a good camping spot. There’s a portion of the cave which is tiled. A water cistern of is situated at the base of the pinnacle.
The highest part of the fort is 710m. Chanderi provides excellent view of all the surrounding forts making it as a vantage point or watch tower in those days. Prabalgad, Kalavantin Durg, Irshalgad, Karnala, Nakind, Vikatgad, Matheran, Mhaismal, Haji Malang, Tavli, Navra Navri are some of the prominent mountains that can be easily made out from the top of Chanderi. On the oter end of the hill a statue of Shivaji Maharaj is placed.
The plateau beneath the Chanderi fort trek is enchanting in the monsoons and many tourists travel here to enjoy the waterfalls.
The trek to Chanderi starts from either of two villages, from Tamsai (Panvel) or from Chinchavli (Vangani, Badlapur). The route from Chinchavli is longer as compared to Tamsai but it is easily accessible and close to railway station. One can park their cars just before the village as the village is very small.
Chanderi is an indomitable fort. It is easy to lose your way, as a major part of the trek is through a dense forest. Trekking groups have marked arrows and piled rocks to indicate the route. There are very high chances of missing these signs as well and it is recommended to take a local from the village as a guide on this trek.
The trail climbs gradually till a huge plateau with lots of rocks and boulders. One has to trek the Nlichi Vat or the river route till Khind. The climb is tiring in summer but very refreshing in monsoon. One has to also cross a small waterfall and a stream on the way up. Once you reach the Khind, the trail to Tamsai, Panvel can be seen. From the col, the left goes to Chanderi and the right to the 4 pinncale cluster, Mhasmal. The trail to the left takes you to the caves in 15 minutes.
As the approach to the top is very dangerous, trekkers generally hike only till the caves. Erosion of rocks and frequent landslides have made reaching the top very difficult and risky. The climb is inclined at 80 degrees and is full of scree. Professional trekkers do not need a rope for this climb however it is always advisable to carry one and take a guide along.
Just recently around 40 trekkers were stranded on the way up in monsoon. The heavy rains and cloud cover made navigating the path really difficult for them. There was one casualty. One should should not go beyond the caves in the monsoon season.
How to reach
One can reach Vangani from Mumbai. The road is not in the best of condition but is convenient. It takes about 20 minutes to reach Chinchvali, the base village from here.
If travelling by train, one can alight at Vangani station or Badlapur station as both are convenient railheads to reach this fort. Both these stations are on the Central railway line. Private vehicles or rickshaws from the stations will reach you till the base village – Chinchvali.