Prabalmachi (390 metres above sea level), is a quaint little village hidden in the hills off the old NH4 (Mumbai – Pune highway). On your way to Pune, on the NH4, before the first highway toll booth, take a left. Drive towards the Prabalgad Fort. The road is fit only for an SUV and after a point, the road ends. One has to park the vehicle and trek up about 45 minutes to an hour to the village. It’s a simple trek and one can do it on ones own.
The village of Prabalmachi is the ‘base camp’ for a trek up the Prabalgad Fort (766 m). Those interested may trek up to the fort, which takes about an hour plus each way. Kalavantin is a 500m high pinnacle on the northern edge of the Prabal plateau. It is located near the Machi and Vajepur villages.
A nice village lunch, and a small siesta later, we trekked down, sighting a Paradise Flycatcher Male and a Shikra, and then drove to Morbe Dam to soak our feet in the fresh waters. At sunset, it was time to drive back to the grind of Mumbai, but not before stopping at a small tapri (chai shop), Jadhav Hotel, for chai and pakoras. The best I have had in recent times. Overall, the old NH4 is far more scenic and enjoyable than the Mumbai Pune Expressway.
[box type=”success” width=”100%” ]How To Reach Prabalmachi: On the Mumbai Pune Old Highway, turn left (if coming from Mumbai) near Shedung or right if coming from Pune.From Panvel/Pune you can get a public ST bus to Thakurwadi. You can begin trekking from here.
When to visit: June to August in the rains, then November till March in the winters. Summers will be very hot.
Where to eat: At the Prabalmachi village.
Where to stay: At the Prabalmachi Village you will find places to stay. Carry your own linen or sleeping bags. Facilities are sparse so carry your own soaps, sanitisers etc. It can get cold in the night.[/box]
Prabalgad lies on the Prabal plateau between Matheran and Panvel and can be seen from the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The Ulahas River runs to the east of the fort. The Gadhi River, and the Chanderi and Peb forts are to the west. To the south is the Patalganga River, and Manikgad and to the north is the Karnala fort.
Kelve Teen (also known as Kalavantin or Kalavantinicha Sulka) is a 500m high pinnacle on the northern edge of the Prabal plateau. It is located near the Machi and Vajepur villages.
Prabalgad fort or Muranjan fort, in its present form, was built during Bahmani Sultanate to keep an eye on Panvel Fort & Kalyan Fort in North Konkan. Around 1458 AD, Malik Ahmad, the prime minister of the kingdom of Ahmednagar, took over the fort during his conquest of Konkan. After disintegration of Bahmani Sultanate, this fort remained with Ahmadnagar Sultanate. During the collapse of Ahmadnagar Sultanate, Shahaji tried helping them unsuccessfully against separate forces of Mughal Empire & Adil Shahi dynasty & moved to Muranjan along with wife Jijabai & younger son Shivaji for a brief period. However following Shahaji’s defeat & agreement of Mahuli, North Konkan, along with this fort, was ceded to Mughals who granted ruling authority of the area to Adilshah of Bijapur. The fort was conquered by Shivaji from the Mughals in 1657, after he establishing himself in the Kalyan-Bhivandi area.At the time of the attack the fort was governed by Kesar Singh, a Mughal sardar, and was the only fort to put up a strong resistance. On seeing the signs of defeat the women in the fort performed Jauhar, a tradition of self immolation to ensure an honorable and respectful death. Singh died during the battle in October 1657. Singh’s mother hid herself and her grandchild during the attack. Shivaji in an act of kindness made sure the lady and the child were allowed a safe passage out.
In the year 1826 Umaji Naik, a freedom fighter, and his associates are believed to have made this as their home for a brief period of time.