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Location: close to the matheran hill station is a little known but relatively easy trekking fort called peb.

 

Hike duration: one day for a quickie trek but overnight stay is definitely recommended.

 

Geographical proximities:

Peb fort seems to be on the continued limb of the kalyan – karjat mountain range which roughly lies perpendicular to the sahyadri ranges. The peaks of this short range, each have a name and some are of historical significance. This range runs in the north - east to south - west direction (kalyan to karjat) as opposed to the sahyadris  which run in the north south direction.

The peaks are:

a)     malang gad or popularly known by the other name haji – malang
b)       badlapur hill.
c)       mhasmal peak.
d)       chanderi fort.
e)       peb fort.
f)        matheran.

 

Routes to arrive at the hiking spot:
1)     neral - peb (shortest and the most frequently used )
2)     neral – nakhind - peb
3)     vangani – chanderi – peb
4)       Matheran - peb (another favorite route).
5)       Neral – bhadwal, mamdapur – Peb.
6)       Savtachiwadi route (very less frequently used route, ascends from the west face of the mountain).


Please click on the map to view a larger version.

 

Best time of the year to visit:

Since this region is relatively better off as regards basic amenities are concerned with respect to some other parts of interior maharashtra. Water and food both may be plentiful just in case they are needed.

Except for may be the dry months of may – june water is available rest of the year. The best time to visit the fort or its surroundings is from august to december.

It is better to avoid the very wet months of june and july as some of the paths and trails may be slippery and dangerous.

 

Journey :

Neral – peb route:

Arrive at neral station by train (central railway) by boarding the “karjat local” which  starts from C.S.T and halts at  byculla, dadar, kurla, ghatkopar and thane.

Cross over to the east side of the station where the market place is located.

Cross over the dam and get across to reach the fields. Here the mountains of matheran, peb and nakhind stand in front like a formidable barrier from left to the right.


Image : Across the dam at Neral : 
 ( Please click on the image to view a larger, clearer picture)

 

The notch between nakhind and peb is the one to catch site of as this is the final destination. The notch has a hillock so the space between nakhind and peb is actually a stretched out “W”. remember that we will begin to climb so that we reach the left wing. The right wing has a high tension electric pylon on it and is the approach for the neral – nakhind- peb route.

The route is well used and so it is not a problem once you set out right from neral. After crossing the dam head for a small hamlet and then cross the river again to go over to the other side. Here follow the trail up as it begins to ascend the route intercepts 2 pylons and runs  roughly parallel to the high voltage line for some distance.

 

However there are 4 signs which will tell you that you are on the right track:

1.The direction of the path is always toward the left wing of the “w”
2. approximately 2/3  of the way the path goes underneath a pylon
3. approximately ½ of the way the path seems to circumvent a huge tree and takes a sharp right to steeply ascend.
4. Just beyond the previous landmark the path crisscrosses a stream {usually dry} at the juncture a brief diversion to the right will lead to a waterfall, which incidentally becomes a nice halting spot for refilling the water bottles or have snacks.

 

After climbing few broken steps which have been carved out of rock, the cool breeze welcomes us as we finally reach the notch and the entire landscape on the west of the mountain opens out in to the view. If climbing was started at late noon time, it’s a rewarding site to see the sunset.

 

The path here is actually a kind of a cross road the route turning right goes to nakhind, the one straight comes from “savtyachi wadi”, but we have to take the left turn and start the final ascent to the fort. ( See map, above)

Only one obstacle now remains to be crossed that’s a 8 foot high rock cliff which has to be climbed over using basic climbing skills (however its good to be alert when crossing this point, as a funny anecdote relates to a colleague’s knapsack tumbling over this point only to be lost forever,  as the cliff here is pretty steep).

After this small adventure the rest of the way is very easy and is on flat ground, however we have to be alert while moving ahead as the path suddenly bifurcates and we shall have to take the left climbing path which leads to the cave.

 

Things to see:

The cave is bicameral and very commodious. Occasionally the cast iron gate to entrance of the cave is locked but there is plenty of space in front of the cave for camping too.
Very close to the cave is a square window cut into the rock it leads inside as a tunnel into a small chamber, just enough to accommodate 2 people. The tunnel is wide enough only to allow one person at a time and that to the person has to crawl inside. It is said that “shree Gajanan Maharaj “ used to do meditation in this chamber.

 

The view of the vast expanse of the western horizon is breath taking and on a clear day it is easy to appreciate a far as the sea, on clear nights the blinking of the tata electric company’s chimney at chembur / trombay can also be appreciated at a distance. The view is absolutely  fantastic and words would not do justice to something so beautiful and which can be easily experienced by anyone.

The way to the fort proper is to continue straight with out taking a left turn for the caves. As we proceed further we come across a stone wall on the left this is the way we will have to climb up to the fort, there are long nails hammered into the rock, so climbing it is kind of exciting.

On the top of the mountain there is not much to appreciate except an old temple where “Shiva “ is the main deity there is no roof here.

On the north side facing the Panorama point are remains of broken fortification which are probably only evidence of it being a fort.

 The entire round on the top takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

 

The view from the top gives a lot of information about the region to the south lies the hill station of matheran, and the twin forts of rajmachi can be appreciated in the distance in south east direction. The peaks of bhimashankar, peth fort, tung fort can been seen on a very clear day in the eastern direction, chanderi lies to the north and  beyond that in the distance the malang gad can be appreciated.  

Image above : Chanderi as seen from the Peb fort.
 (Please click on the image to view a larger picture)

 

 

Image : Nankhind as seen from the Peb fort.
 
(Please click on the image to view a larger version )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trek scale:

Relatively easy, water and place to camp present, trek itself does not take more than 2 to 3 hours at a fast pace.

 

-Rohit Divekar.
(1995 batch)
Comments? Corrections? Additions?  Please Email : rohit@kemates.com