Why a night trek should be on your trek list this monsoon

3rd Jun 2017

The Kalvantin peak

Photo of Why a night trek should be on your trek list this monsoon by Abhijit

Trekking is not a sport. It's a way of getting one with nature. While day treks are amazing by themselves, there’s something phenomenal about a night trek. Firstly, there’s no sun to wear you down with its intense heat. Second, you have spectacular views from the top, even with almost no light. Third, nothing can beat the view of a sunrise atop a mountain.

While I am more of a monsoon trek kinda person, I do trek the other times in the year as well. While ardently waiting for the rains to start this year, I came across several trek ideas for night treks to view swarm of fireflies along the trek route. One can only view them in certain times of the year, largely owing to the fact that they are visible mainly during their mating season, which is a short window of opportunity before the rains or during the early monsoon season.

With several to choose from, we decided on the Prabal plateau for this night trek. The Prabalgad fort lies along the plateau right next to Matheran, a popular hill station near Mumbai. It lies at an elevation of 2300 feet sitting right next to a steeper, meaner Kalvantin peak. One can easily see it as they pass by on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

Day 1

We started late on Saturday, almost in the evening. It took us just over an hour to reach Panvel station which was to be our starting point. Having negotiated a tum-tum for 600 rupees, he agreed to drop us at the base of the fort, a village called Thakurwadi. It was an easy climb to the top, though it had some parts wherein the natural roads had partially caved in. It barely took us two hours to reach the top (of the plateau). All the while, we could see specks of flashing lights in the trees around us.


Photo of Panvel, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Abhijit
Day 2

It was almost midnight that we started for the peak. Despite it being a full moon night, we had to use headlamps/torches to light parts of the trail which were dense. The climb to the peak takes about an hour and a half in the dark. We had some company from other trekkers who had come to scale the Kalvantin peak itself. Although it is steeper than the initial climb to the plateau, it is not that difficult. The final summit is a different story. It has steps which are quite steep and one must be careful while climbing the final few steps. The view from the top is amazing though.

The valley as we were

Photo of Prabalmachi, Maharashtra, India by Abhijit

Kalvantin (left) and Prabalgard

Photo of Prabalmachi, Maharashtra, India by Abhijit

A long exposure shot, just before dawn

Photo of Prabalmachi, Maharashtra, India by Abhijit

The dawn atop the plateau

Photo of Prabalmachi, Maharashtra, India by Abhijit
Day 1

The view from the top

Photo of Kalavantin Durg, Machiprabal, Maharashtra, India by Abhijit

It wasn’t much windy at the Prabal plateau but the temperature was pleasant. Although we saw flashes of lightning throughout our climb, it did not rain, thankfully. We planned to have a light dinner at a place run by the locals there. We were served piping hot zunka and rice bhakri, along with chapatis, sabzi, rice and dal. Needing to climb further up the fort, we settled for a light meal. Having seen both peaks side by side, we decided to climb the Kalvantin peak instead of following our planned itinerary.

We climbed down the peak at a decent pace but decided to go off trail as the plateau neared and ended up reaching a village instead. A deserted village, in the wee hours of the morning looked scary as hell (at least in our minds). We decided to give the eerie village a pass and find our way to the plateau.

But we couldn’t. Although we found a near a house we passed on our way up, we got lost in the thickets. And despite it being a full moon night, we found it difficult to trace our way back. At one time, we circled back to the same spot. Twice.

I didn’t want to say anything to the others as the plotline of The Blair Witch Project surfaced in my mind. Perhaps I didn’t want to spook them while already being spooked enough myself. Obviously, the threat was non-existent. We reached the plateau soon after, the path revealing itself to us.

When we finally reached the plateau we were tired, but happy. We stayed awake to partake the splendid views of the valley. We had a quick breakfast of freshly prepared kande pohe (a Maharashtrian breakfast delicacy made of flattened rice), and started to climb down the mountain. It hardly took us 45 minutes in bright sunlight even though we were weary with the lack of sleep.

We had a tum-tum waiting for us, having called the driver ahead of us (We had arranged that the previous night with him). He took us back to Panvel station, to reality and the hustle bustle of our urban existence.