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Chanderi Fort (279m)

Chanderi Trek (4th Jan 2009)

This was a long awaited trek for me since 2 years. This trek was postponed twice post to its planning. Probably due to the fact that its a long ardous one. Now finally it went thruough leaving Mumbai on 3rd Jan'07.
We were 5 of us in all which was reduced from a figure of 15+. So at times, we took good advantage of this lesser number. We assembled at Kalyan & took the 11.12pm slow local to Vangani stn. Having reached Vangani at 11.40, We started our march towards Chanderi Hotel which is on the way to Badlapur, in search of place to rest for the rest of the night. However, after a walk of 4 kms, we could only find the hotel gate locked & dark with dogs barking mad on us.

We then decided to proceed to an Ashram which is on the way to the base village Chincholi. So we took the road going opposite to the hotel. However, we could not locate any ashram & had to proceed to the village afer a bit of route searching. After a lot of apprehensions about the route taken, we reached the Chincholi village school. There are every chances of missing out this proper route to the village. So we slept off from 3.30am onwards. It was a pleasant cold morning. We were quite fortunate to be greeted early in the morning with a cup of black sweet tea by a young boy after which he just disappeared! We searched for our recommended guide Ambu Gawanda. He is one of the pioneers of Chanderi fort!!! He instantly stood up on conveying him a reference & agreed to guide us to the fort cave. We took few snaps of the rising sun & left at 8am.

We immediately started climbing a hill just in front of us & opposite to the school. The route took us thru shrubby slope & reached a plateau with enough cattle routes to lose our way. The route then goes in the direction of the col between Chanderi (on left) & Mhaismal (on right). After about an hours trek, the route slightly descends into a waterfall area or a nalla. One has to then follow this nalla till the top of the col. It takes about an hour to reach this place. After a small climb & finding a proper place to rest, we decided to take a break in the cool rocky forest shade. We had our breakfast with allu parathas prepared by Lalitesh's better half! Quite lucky indeed... After munching upon few roasted nuts, we started our trek further throught the rocky terrain. All the time, we could see the towering pinnacle of Chanderi fort top above us. We reached the col while skirting around the nalla all the time. The col as usual is quite airy & refreshing. The other side descends to Panvel area. We get a good view of neighbouring Mhaismal, Prabalgad, Matheran, Irshal, Shri Malangad, Navra-Navri Pinnacles etc.
After taking a left, we continue our ascend to the base of the Chanderi pinnacle. This route is over a ridge. Had been to Chanderi about a decade back during monsoon. So it was only the route in front of us which was seen due to the cloud cover. Then we traverse along the right side of the base of the pinnacle wall & reach the cave. The cave houses a Shivling. There is enoug space for 25 people to sleep. Just before the cave, there is a water tank on the left side which holds potable water. There is another source of potable water ahead of the cave route. This route fromt he cave continues over a scree filled path & a little descend on a small flat on the right side. This route is extremely exposed & risky. The trail is faint & one has to balance so as to keep from not falling in the right valley! But the water is cool & virgin!

The top of the pinnacle is about 300 feet higher than the cave. We just gave it a try & Manoj Malvade climbed for about 25-30 feet & returned back. We did not had any intentions to do this risky climb. For safety, one needs to have about 300' long rope for safety along with basic climbing gear. Even though we saw a small group doing this without any assistance!

After having our lunch & a small rest, we left the cave at 1.15pm on our return trek. The path is painstaking to decsend due to the small rocks & mud. We reached the village & to the guides house at 3.30pm. Refreshing ourselves, we were glad to get cup of chai from Ambu house. We learnt that there were no rickshaws to go to either Badlapur or Vangani. So we again started our trek to the Chanderi Hotel which lise on the junction of the Badlapur - Vangani road & the Chincholi phata. It takes 40 mins. to reach. Luckily we got a rick to go to Vangani from this point & boarded the 5pm local to CST.

Finally, last but not the least, I thank all my team to have been supportive & hard trekkers.
Lalitesh for the Parathas, Manoj for sharing his experience, Samrant & Narasimha for there high enthusiasm & zeal!

Now I start to look ahead for the next venture, Yeh dil mange more!

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Written By: Kiran Sarode

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