Mumbai Experience: Travelling is fun when you take hold of the mean machine and cruise. Specially on a Royal Enfield where riding pleasure is nothing less than attaining Nirvana.
Travelling on a bike is like flying low in the nature where you feel the breeze much better than sitting like mannequins in the box called as car. In a car nature appears like moving pictures and where you miss the 'in' feeling.
Secondly, car has restrictions when it comes to cruising the dirt tracks or the natural path into the unexplored.
Keeping this is mind and the time available, I decided to explore to my favourite destination - Karnala Bird Santuary. Karnala is just 10kms from Panvel and
appx. 61 km from Mumbai. During non peak hours one can reach in an hour from Mumbai.
Karnala is a great place for weekend break with friends and family. It has thick forest with variety of birds, wild mushrooms and plenty of monkeys swinging from tree to tree.
The prime attraction at Karnala is the Karnala Fort. On weekends one can see many trekkers, nature photographers and school kids. Apart from trekking, rappelling also takes place at the pinnacle of Karnala fort. The peak is crested by a thumb-shaped pinnacle hence it is also known as 'Thumbs-Up' fort.
Though there are small hotels and resorts around, one needs to carry sufficient water and light snacks for hiking. It is advisable to start the hike early in the morning and return early. Cellphones work here but has limitations. It takes from an hour to two hour hike to reach the top, depending on the level of trekker you are. There are various trails one can follow. The map is available at the base at mere Re. 1/-. The entry fee per person is Rs. 20/-.
The view from the top is simply breath taking as your eyes are attracted to the vastness of the Arabian Sea. Also the view of Sahyadri range is magnificent. At The base of the pinnacle there are some small rock-cut caves which are filled with water. These water tanks are of Buddist origin where monks used to meditate here.
Bird Watching at Karnala:
Early morning is the right time to catch the birds in action. The chirping of birds here makes you feel that you have gone back in the time machine.
Though the area is mere 4.5 sq. km, it is home to some 80+ bird species. The best time is during winter when migratory birds from Himalayas and as far as Siberia visit this small place. One has to be equipped with good binoculars and a natural interest in birds. The birds which can be spotted here includes wood-peckers, Himalayan thrust, Golden Orioles, Minivets, Barbets, Green bee eaters, Owls, Drongos, Crested Serpent Eagles, Paradise Flycatchers, Flowerpeckers, Petronias etc. Simply follow the paths which are marked with proper symbols. Travel in small groups to identify maximum bird species. A serious birder will have to carry field guides for quick identification of birds. Once you are hooked to birding, you shall return here once a month.
Apart from hiking and birding, there are plant nurseries near by which stock variety of plants from floral to herbal at a reasonable rates. There is Yusuf Meherali Center close by.
Well thatís it as the first of the Travel Series, till then - bye!
Food, sight-seeing and shopping: Woods Resort, Rishi Garden Resort and for food Kshanbhar-Vistranti or Kamat's.
Activities & things to do: Bird Watching in winter, Trekking, Rappelling, Nature walks in Monsoon
Travel tips, How to reach, travel warnings etc: Mumbai-Panvel-Karnala. Karnala Fort / Sanctuary is 10 km from Panvel
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