Traversing the moonlit trail, gradually making our way up the mountain, we came across a local villager. He introduced himself as Balu. On seeing the three of us carrying such big backpacks, he offered to accompany us for the remaining trail since it was dark. From the base village, the walk up to the plateau takes around 1 hr 30 and is an easy route winding through the mountain. The four of us reached the plateau by 8 P.M. We started clearing out the ground to pitch our tent. The plateau offered a marvelous view of Panvel outskirts. The city lights seemed like jewels scattered all over entire landscape. Balu took us to his house where his family cooked dinner for us. The food was delicious and something we were craving for after the hike. Now with a full belly, we got back to pitching our tent. We spent the night spotting constellations sitting by a bonfire.
View when we woke up
Prabalmachi is a village hidden in the hills on a plateau. The Kalavantin Pinnacle and Prabalgad fort make for a picturesque backdrop to the village. Prabalmachi is the base village to these two treks. To completely explore the area, one has to spend at least 2 days.
Kalavantin Pinnacle to the left and Prabalgad on the right.
View from Prabalmachi.
The next morning, we set off for our trek to Kalavantin Pinnacle. The route to the Pinnacle involves walking through ridges and routes steeply cut around the mountains. At one point of the trek, we went off-trail and had to bushwhack our way through the shrubs and trees. People were surprised to see us emerging from bushes and we were surprised to see people coming from another route. Which was the main trail. This wrong turn took opened out right to the end of the main trail. Only then did we realise, we were off route for at least 30 minutes and we cut straight instead of going around unknowingly. No wonder the terrain got steeper all of a sudden. The last stretch of slope before reaching the Pinnacle needs to be climbed cautiously, requiring you to go on all fours too at one point. After we went past the slope, there were steep sets of staircases, each step 2ft. tall, carved out of rock along the steep pinnacle.
The Pinnacle as seen from the northern end of Prabalgad, credits: Rohit Gowaikar
The stair case. Credits: Dinesh Valke
These have been nicknamed as the stairway to heaven by local trekkers owing to the height. Mountain on one side and a steep drop on the other makes this climb an exciting and thrilling one. This is one of the few treks that bring you to heart to mouth situations on a few occasions. From the peak, you have a 360° view of the Western Ghats. Hills of Matheran, Chanderi, Peb, Ershalgad and Karnala are visible from the peak. This trek gets all the more risky and challenging during the monsoons compared to its neighbor, Prabalgad. The pinnacle is at an elevation of about 2330 ft A.S.L.
View from the Pinnacle
Looking for shade.
After spending some time at the peak and seeking shelter from the blistering heat, we started our descent. Trekking in the hard sun sucks your body dry of energy and fluids. We devoured multiple servings of Chicken thalis when we got to Prabalmachi. Lemonade gave relief to our parched throats. After resting for a while, we packed our tent and started descending from Prabalmachi towards our car parked at the base.
Prabalmachi was considered being turned into a hill station earlier but due to the lack of water sources, the plan was shifted to Matheran. The base village and the starting point of the trek is Thakurwadi. Nearest railhead is Panvel. You can reach Thakurwadi from Panvel via local S.T buses and auto rickshaws. Panvel is well connected to Mumbai and Pune by both road and rail. Thakurwadi is the place where you’d want to make a quick halt and pick up supplies and snacks for the trek. There is a small place alloted to park your vehicles near the start point of the trek to Prabalmachi.
It is a perfect place to test your endurance and relax at the same time. If you’re not keen on too much trekking, spending time at Prabalmachi is also a great way to experience the tranquillity of the Western Ghats. Prabalmachi is one of the few and perfect places you can go hiking and camping with your family on weekends owing to the easy trek and a short 60 KM drive from Mumbai. Monsoons are the best time to camp out for a night or two on this plateau. Also do remember, the villagers don’t like it if you consume alcohol here and hence should refrain from doing so. Do respect the rules and beliefs of the locals when you visit remote areas. This is also an amazing place for people who practice Yoga!