Chanderi Fort

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Chanderi Fort, Panvel Overview

Located in the Matheran district of Maharashtra, the Chanderi Fort is a historical monument which can be reached by taking a short trek to the hilltop. This day-long trek in the Kalyan area is a breather for people from Mumbai, Pune and the nearby regions, and the fort is as famous as the trek that leads to it. From the top of this ancient fort, one can view the surrounding forts of Prabalgad, Nakind, Kalavantin, Irshalgad, Karnala, Vikatgad, Mhaismal, Matheran, Haji Malang, Tavli and Navra Navri, and also the Western Ghats far behind in all their glory.

This mighty fort is located near Thane in the Badlapur region, and interestingly, this structure is not really a fort! There are no fortifications at the site, but only water cisterns, rock cut steps and caves that denote that the historical site is indeed a fort. Chanderi Fort was captured by Shivaji Maharaj from the Mughal Sultanate, and ultimately it went into the hands of the British later on. This fortress is often used as a military base, or a hideout since the path that leads up to it is challenging and tiresome.

The fort offers the best of both worlds and appeals to both history lovers as well as adventure enthusiasts since it provides visitors with breathtaking views, excellent historical information, as well as an adrenaline rush.

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It seems as if the history of the Chanderi Fort has been lost in oblivion. Even though this fort is considered to be the jewel in the crown of all forts that belong to the district of Raigadh, there is not much history attached to it. Shivaji Maharaj conquered all territory up to Kalyan-Bhiwandi-Rairi in May 1656, and it was then that the fort came under the rule of the Marathas from the hands of the Mughals. Later on, the British forces took over the structure.

Since the fort provides excellent views of the forts that are located nearby, it was used as a watchtower in the earlier days. The fort is mostly characterised by the absence of any significant or major structures, limited accommodation facilities for people to stay at, low water storage areas, and an arduous pathway that leads up to the main structure. All of these factors suggest that more than a fort, the structure was possibly a military base. The remnants of fortification at the site are the only contributing factors that prove that the building was indeed a fort.

The Chanderi Fort is situated in the centre of the Matheran mountain ranges at the height of 790 metres above the sea level. The trek to Chanderi starts from two villages, either from Tamsai (Panvel) or Chinchavli (Badlapur). The latter route is easily accessible from the railway station and is quite close to it. However, it is longer as compared to the former.

Trekkers often used to get lost in the thick jungles and rivers while trekking up to the fort. Now, trekkers have left behind marked arrows and piled rocks to indicate directions for others to follow, so you need not worry about getting lost. Guides can also be hired to accompany visitors along in case you do not wish to take a chance.

Up until the plateau, the climb is gradual with lots of rocks. Once you reach Khind, you will find Chanderi on the left, while to enter the caves, you will have to climb up higher. The idol of Lord Shiva can be found inside the medium-sized caves, and villagers gather here during Mahashivratri to perform religious ceremonies. A lot of travellers travel just till the caves and then return. If one chooses, he or she can also climb the pinnacle part till the top, where a statue of Shivaji Maharaj can be found. The final climb becomes very dangerous during monsoon when the loose rocks start falling. Be on the lookout for these rolling stones, and be particularly careful.

Inside the caves at the Chanderi Fort, one can find an idol of Lord Shiva. A reservoir of potable water is also located quite near the cave. Water, however, is available here only until October. The cave can comfortably accommodate about ten people, and another reservoir of water can be found at the base of the pinnacle, just near the cave.

There is not much to see or explore at the top of the Chanderi Fort. Due to the occurrence of a landslide, reaching the top of the pinnacle has become quite tricky. To the east of the fort, one can view the Matheran, Peb and Prabalgad range, while to the west, forts like Bhimashankar, Siddhagad, Gorakhgad, Peth, etc. can be seen. The area near the foothills of the fort turns into a captivating spot in the monsoon times, and tourists especially love to visit this particular place to enjoy the waterfalls.

1. The trek beyond the caves is not recommended for casual trekkers as it is considered to be quite difficult.
2. The final climb is hazardous during monsoon and hence should not be attempted at any cost. It is better to just trek up to the caves during this time.
3. Strictly wear proper sports shoes while visiting this attraction.

From the Vangani station on the Mumbai-Karjat-route, one has to follow the railway track till Badlapur to reach the Goregaon Village. From the dirt path going to the left from the main road, you will reach the village Chincholi, which is the base of Chanderi fort.  

Alternatively, you could hire a vehicle from the Vangani Station to reach the village.

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