Kalavantin Durg’s steep rock-cut stairs take you to the skies

Once used by Maratha rulers to watch over the surrounding areas, Kalavantin Durg in Maharashtra has one of western India’s toughest trekking routes. The nearly vertical steps leading to the pinnacle take trekkers to the top with beauty all around

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Kalavantin Durg’s 80-degree rock-cut stairs to heaven and back

Kalavantin Durg has steep stairs and one of the toughest trekking routes in western India

Kalavantin Durg in Maharashtra’s Raigad district is one of the highest summits in western India with a steep staircase leading to the top. Among the toughest trekking routes in India, Kalavantin Durg is next to the Prabalgad Fort, about 70 km from Mumbai. 

It is also known as Kelve Teen, Kalavantinicha Sulka, or Kalavantin Pinnacle and is a popular trekking destination in the Western Ghats due to the steep stairs and natural beauty all around. In Marathi, durg means fort but Kalavantin is not a fort. Maratha rulers used the pinnacle to keep a watch over the surrounding areas.

Local tribal people say the pinnacle, in the Sahyadri Hills, was built in the 15th century for a queen named Kalavantin.

The neighbouring Prabalgad fort was also built at around the same time. About 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level, Kalavantin Durg offers gorgeous views of the Matheran hill, Chanderi, Ershal, Peb, and Karnala forts besides the Mumbai city.

The nearly vertical steps leading to the pinnacle are a testament to the craftsmanship of bygone centuries. Hand-cut during the 15th century, these colossal steps offer ample space for two people to stand side by side.

Also Read: Maharashtra’s Sea Forts: A testimony to the rise & fall of kingdoms on India’s West Coast

Climb to heaven

Kalavantin Fort trek is also called the ‘climb to heaven’, owing to its dangerous nature and the bird’s eye view of the immense beauty from the top.

The trek to Kalavantin Durg starts from Thakurwadi village in Karjat taluka from where the summit is about 3 km away. There are small waterfalls along the route.

Once travellers reach Prabalmachi village, 2 km from Thakurvadi, the trail diverges into two paths: a shorter route leading to Kalavantin Durg and a longer one to Prabalgad fort.

Also Read: Bhatner Fort: India’s oldest & strongest fort built 1800 years ago in Rajasthan

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The steps have been hand-carved into rocks. Pic: Wikipedia

The local administration has implemented safety regulations for trekkers, requiring each individual to register by paying a Rs 20 entry fee and providing personal information. Entry is prohibited during the dark hours of 5 pm to 6 am, and during other times, trekkers must be accompanied by a local guide, who charges Rs 50. The administration has trained 50 villagers to serve as guides and has enforced a ban on plastic bags and bottles along the route.

On every Holi (Shimga) Festival, the tribal people of Machi-Prabal village observe the custom of dancing at the top of Kalavantin fort. These people have a long-standing relationship with this fort and it has become a part of their heritage.   

Also Read: Harihar Fort’s 80-degree rock-cut stairs take you to the top of the world

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