Tandulwadi Fort Trek
Tandulwadi Fort trek is located near Saphale in Palghar, Maharashtra. Tandulwadi fort is in ruins and it’s a series of structures spread over the top of the mountain. It offers great view of the surrounding towns of Saphale, the Zanzorli lake, and the confluence of the Surya and Vaitarna rivers.
Tandulwadi fort was first documented in 15th century during the reign of Jafar Khan, son of Ahmed Shah of the Gujarat Sultanate. It was used as a reconnoiter fort to keep a watch on neighbouring forts and the Arabian Sea. The Sultan of Ahmedabad captured Mahikavati (Mahim) in 1454. One of his Sardar named Mallik Allauddin was made chief of Tandulwadi fort.
The Portuguese wone the fort over in 1509 after they wrested Diu from the Gujarat and established a stronghold at the nearby Vasai area They built the Vasai Fort here. After the battle of Bassein in 1737, the Portuguese lost control of the area to the Marathas.
Tandulwadi fort trek starts from the Tandulwadi village which is a small Varli tribal village. The Forest Department is taking the initiative for making steps to go to the fort from Pimplapada. Lalthane waterfall, a popular attraction during the rainy season is situated just under the fort.
There are several rock cut water cisterns on the fort. There are no bastions, walls or houses on the fort. There is no evidence of fortification except for a small stone wall on the southern side. One can find a small water pond in the center of the fort.
Tandulwadi fort offers panoramic view of the the nearby vicinity including Kohoj fort, Takmak fort, Asherigad fort, Mahalaxmi pinnacle and the Arabian sea.
Marathi Yuvak Sangh has labeled the places on top. Of the structures that were here – Bale killa, temple, water pond, water cistern, weapon storage room etc are marked out. The confluence of Vaitarna and Surya rivers can be seen from the top and makes up for a good view.
The plateau of the fort can be reached from the Tandulwadi village in about an hour. Tandulwadi hill can be seen from the village. The trek route starts from the left side of the gram panchayat office. A 30 minute walk from here brings you to the first plateau. There are multiple trails here. An ascending trail in the front and one going towards the right.
The initial route is through a dense forest and it is easy to lose your way because of cattle trails. It has a moderately difficult gradient. It takes another hour to reach the highest point of the fort from here. It is advisable to take a guide here as the Tandulwadi fort trek is not very popular and is not frequented by trekkers. A group of 3 trekkers had to be rescued from here when they lost their way recently.
The trail that goes to the right takes you to the base of a waterfall. One has to climb huge boulders and get back to the trail on top. There are arrow marks showing the way to the top beyond that. The trail remains rocky throughout till the top.
How to reach
Tandulwadi fort trek is located near Lalthane village in Palghar district, about 104 km from Mumbai. It is 75 km from Thane and 7.5 km from Saphale Railway station. Saphale Railway station is the nearest railway station.
It is also reachable through the Mumbai – Ahmedabad Highway NH 8. After crossing the bridge over Vaitarna river, you have to take a left turn from the Varai Phata. One can see the Tandulwadi fort on from this road after a few minutes.
Tandulwadi, the base village for this trek is 15 km from the Varai Phata. It is well connected by road. There are no hotels or restaurants in the village except a few grocery shops.
Vita, Sangli and Karad are the nearby by towns to Tandulwadi with road connectivity to Tandulwadi. If travelling by an ST bus, one can board the bus from the east side of Sapahale railway station. The bus takes about 30 minutes to reach.