Just some 50km from Mumbai, on the old Mumbai – Goa Highway lies a little piece of heaven, the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. Notified in 1968, it has thankfully grown from some 4.45 sq km to some 12 sq km now.
For some of us, the ever growing concrete all around can become suffocating and a quick break is very much needed. Being so close to Mumbai, the Karnala Bird Sanctuary is one such place. The sanctuary is made of the beautiful forests on the hill around the Karnala Fort, which is at an altitude of some 445 meters above sea level.
They say the fort was built before 1400 AD in the rule of the Devagiri Yadava Dynasty. Over a period of time the Karnala Fort changed hands from the Devagiri Yadavas to the Tughlaq rulers, then from Gujarat Sultanat to Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar and back to Gujarat Sultanat with the help of the Portugese, who later handed it back to Nizam Shah for an annual lease. Thereafter, it was conquered by Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler, in around 1670. After his death, the Karnala Fort was taken over by Aurangzeb. By 1740 or so, the Peshwas of Pune took over the fort. It remained with them until the British conquered it in 1818. I wonder in all these years what kind of structural and design changes the fort must have undergone, with such diverse people ruling it. I am sure if I dig hard enough in the old libraries, there must be some paintings and references to the Karnala Fort somewhere.