Thursday, 22 October 2015

Into The Night - Kalavantin Durg - Small Steps - The Happy Getaway 2015

Somewhere New

Kalavantin durg is located on a plateau very close to Matheran, near the Machi and Vajepur villages.  It a beautiful location that is also known to be named after the queen Kalavantin, as the steep stairs takes you upwards. Embrace yourself for a thrilled filled adventure.

How to Get There
  • ·        Air: the nearest airport is the Mumbai airport after which you can take a taxi to Panvel or Thakurwadi
  • ·        Rail: board a train that halts at Panvel after which you take an auto (tum-tum) to reach Thakurwadi
  • ·        Bus: catch a bus that goes to Panvel and then an auto (tum-tum) to reach Thakurwadi.
  • ·        Tum-Tums are preferred because there is a climb from Thakurwadi to Prabalmachi and then to the top of Kalavantin durg.

Difficulty Level & Duration

Moderate, 34 hours (Night Camping)


It is a 500m high pinnacle on the northern edge of the Prabal plateau. Its total height is 2,300 feet

Happy Hours

Monsoons and Winters.

My Happy Getaway – Small Steps Community

A weekend cannot be more eventful than learning so many different things and experiencing a feel of trained mountaineering skills. It was a beautiful a trip organized by Small Steps.

 On the 3rd October at around 7 am we began our journey toward the trekking site. As the sun rose, the adventurers began their trek to the Prabal Machi basecamp at a quick pace where piping hot tea with delicious poha was awaiting them.

At about noon, a knot teaching session was conducted by Hira Kaka and Sachin Mestry, who were our mountaineering teachers. Different types of knots, their application and methodology was taught. Basic information about it and familiarity to some technical tools should be known before attempting any kind of mountaineering activities.

 After fulfilling our midday activities we headed to our very first session of mountain climbing. Our energy levels were high and so was the humidity. Though the weather wasn’t very pleasant and apt it did not kill our excitement and pumped up adrenaline. We overcame our fear by mastering the art of mountain climbing.
 For amateurs like us, aping up the mountain was a challenging task. However, with constant motivation of Nishant and Sachin (our trainers) everybody got to experience their first ever thrilling clamber.

After such a tiresome ascend we began descending to the base camp, during late evening. The dull bluish sky was slowly changing to a relatively darker shade.

The descend was followed by an amazing dinner which included an interactive session with all the trekkers. After the glorious dinner, before retiring a revision of the knot session was conducted.

Eventually, the night got to the trekkers and they began to fall asleep under the moonlight. The chilly night and snoring sound didn't let camping zeal fade.

On the onset of dawn a wake-up call was made. And what we witnessed after that was heavenly. The view of clouds covering the city was incredible.
Quickly after, freshening up and having breakfast, we soon headed out for the climb to Kalavanting durg and rappelling session.

 Slowly and steadily we climbed up Kalavanting and experienced a rare view.
 Then the exciting rappelling was awaiting us. Rappelling is easier only when you don’t look down the hill from which you are descending. Fortunately, the climate was sunny and complimented our activity.

We were back to the base camp at noon where lunch was served. After a little chit-chat, everyone gathered to thank our trainers. Their support and motivation was much appreciated. They were friendly and easy-going, as we were beginners. The knowledge and experience gained through this trip was immense.

As said happy times are short lived, and so these two days passed quickly, leaving behind some beautiful memories to be cherished.

Sakshi Trivedi - – Small Steps Traveler


You can see more pictures from the trip here

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Picture Credits – Small Steps Team

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Edited & Published By The Happy Getaway Team 

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The World's Largest Wheeled Cannon - Jaigarh Fort 2015

Where? - Location Compass

Jaigarh Fort is situated on the promontory called the Hill of Eagles of the Aravalli range; it overlooks the Amber Fort and the Maota Lake, near Amber in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. The fort was built by Jai Singh II in 1726 to protect the Amber Fort and its palace complex and was named after him. It is pink in color and is home to the World’s Largest Wheeled Cannon (That was only used once.) Jaivanan Cannon. It is one of the strongest Forts of Jaipur and India. It is well crafted and well equipped to be able to go past odds.

How To Get There:

  • Around 4 km’s away from Amber Fort & Connect by A Tunnel (Network)
  • Rickshaw can be taken (Economical)
  • Taxi’s are also available for group travellers (Beware of cheats, pay by meter.)
  • There are local busses also who run the same route, that can be taken by enquiring with the locals and figuring the frequency and timings.

Jaigarh Fort - Exploration Time: 1-2 Hours

How Old - Built In: 1726 / 18th Century

When? - Ideal Time To Getaway

Best Period To Getaway: December - May (Winter & Summer)
Timings: 9 am - 4:30 pm (Entry Timings) - Important
Contact Numbers: +91-141-2671848 | +91-141-5110598
Charges: Indians - 35 Rs Foreigners - 85 RS (Camera/Add On Charges Separate)

My Happy Getaway - Jaigarh Fort 2015

We were out in Jaipur exploring and chilling after quite a lot of planning and going back and forth. I was with a few of my favourite people (Tattva 2) yes a travel group that we have now converted into a small circle of family, friends and explorers. Dua figured the place out and after not a lot of convincing and deciding to stay a day longer to explore we set out to see what the pink city had to offer us. One of the first places, and what i’ll be writing about here is the Jaigarh Fort.

We took a Qualis, a spacious and roomy car that all of us comfortably got into. And then our road trip to the fort began. The signing (And all the Kya’s? - Ignore the Inside Joke) began to fill the car with laughters and smiles. Dhruv (My finance man) and his flirting and anticipation of the flight he had to catch later surely kept us occupied. We soon began to climb up a hill and passed a few gates and a narrow entry point. We could see Amber Fort and Aravalli Hills from the hill and the beautiful water streaming by. Jaipur is a beautiful and artsy city that will make you feel warm and one with our culture, traditions and people. At no point did I feel out of place or out of sync, I believe every traveller should at least once backpack to Jaipur. (There is way too much to see, feel and experience there.) I wish I stayed longer.

So a bit about the Jaigarh Fort. It is built with thick walls of red sandstone and is spread over a vast range of 3 kilometers in length, with a width of one kilometer. The fort houses the world's greatest cannon on wheels known as the Jaivana Cannon and a huge palace complex. This includes the Laxmi Vilas, Lalit Mandir, Aram Mandir and the Vilas Mandir. The fort has a well-tended garden which can be viewed by tourists even today along with an armory and a museum.

The Jaigarh Fort is an opulent structure built in the early 18th century. Amer, the city in which the Jaigarh and the Amer fort are located, was ruled by the Kachawahas from the early 10th century. During the Mughal dynasty, the Jaigarh Fort became their empire's main cannon foundry and was also used as storage stronghold to store ammunition and other metal required for war. During the successive wars that broke out in the Mughal dynasty in 1658, the cannon outpost at the Jaigarh fort was protected until the protector, Dara Shikoh, was defeated and executed by his own brother, Aurangzeb. Later, the fort was handed over to Jai Singh II and he is known to have molded the great ‘Jaivana Cannon', along with using the devices and the foundries inside the fort.

The Jaigarh fort was never conquered in battle, and was also the strongest of the three forts in Jaipur. During the Mughal dynasty, the fort bore witness to an ambush by Aurangzeb who defeated and killed his own brother who was the overseer of the cannon outpost in the fort. Apart from that, the fort never witnessed any major resistance, and only test-fired the world's largest cannon, once.

We explored the fort right from the start to the end point. The fort is filled with monkeys, and at a fair distance you can also spot a lot of peacocks (We spotted a beautiful one sitting on a tree on our way back, and two running away on our road trip to our next destination.). Peacocks are just so beautiful aren’t they with their beautiful necks and colourful feathers and graceful walk. Was bliss to catch a view of them. The fort is really majestic and well crafted, the detailing work and mightiness of the fort shows how strong it was and how much damage it could withstand. The fort is pink in color and is surely one of the most renowned places in Jaipur. There is a lot of history in the walls of the fort, secret view and gun points. Also the height it was on gave a clear view of enemies or threats from a distance. It is known to be one of the most strongest forts in India.

This was surely a memorable experience, and I hope I can do many more such trips in the future, with my happy set of people. And to many more such forts and experiences.

This is Happy (Or you can call me Al) signing off, until next time.
Have a great day.

And an adventurous weekend! :)

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Pictures of THG  Jaigarh Fort 2015:

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Sunday, 26 July 2015

A Cave Lost Within Mumbai - Mahakali Caves 2015

Where? - Location Compass

Mahakali Caves also remembered as the Kondivite Caves are a group of 19 rock-cut monuments. The Buddhist Monastery is located in Andheri East and consist of rock cut caves, cut out of a solid black basalt rock. This caves feel similar to any other Buddhist cave you may have visited, but the fact that it is so easily accessible and can be visited by one and all and still isn’t quite famous really is worrying and upsetting.

How To Get There:

  • Reach Andheri Railway Station - Local Train - East (Most Economical)
  • Take local Taxi till Andheri East - Mahakali Cave Road End
  • By Road Highway (Expressway - Andheri East)
  • Buses go right upto the cave from the Station (Bus No. 333, and a few others)

Mahakali Cave - Exploration Time: 1-2 Hours

How Old - Built In: 1st century BCE and 6th century CE.

When? - Ideal Time To Getaway

Best Period To Getaway: December - May (Winter & Summer)
Timings: 7am - 5pm (Entry Timings) - Important

My Happy Getaway - Mahakali Caves 2015

So on a weekday, I decided to head to this fort, that happens to be just 35 mins away from my place according to Google Maps. Imagine a cave so close I did not know that existed. (Shame on me.) And since I was considering heading out Solo, I decided to head out with my sister as she was quite free too. We took the local and once we reached we discovered that the Cave visiting timings have ended we reached at 5:22 and the cave shuts at 5! How disappointing. But on our way back, and really close to the Mahakali Caves you can find Dharmakshetra - A meditation and religious center by Shri Satya Sai Baba. It is a beautifully and well kept place, not parallel towards one particular religion as you can find statues and resemblance of multiple god and beliefs. However I believe the calling there is to find inner peace and unity through giving and prayer.

We entered the center and found huge building and well crafted statues and carvings. We climbed the hill where we also found a meditation room, where we spent a few peaceful minutes at. (Have added the pictures of the center in the album.) Soon we were home and I was confident that I was going to make an attempt to try to go to these caves again. It was morning this time, and pre work that I decided to make an attempt to visit these caves again. I entered the broad gates and the overall fencing that will make you feel this isn’t a cave but a local garden or park that you are ending. On the end of Mahakali Road, not many know or are aware of the cave or its resemblance, which is quite disappointing. I soon was inside, and my word, wasn’t it beautiful. I have to hand it to those people who invest time and money into reserving and safeguarding this place. It was well maintained. Yes, few parts of the caves did have leakages and there was a stink of urine and bad odor coming from a few caves. But overall I have to say, they are trying their best. There is no entry charge to enter the cave and when you enter on the right side you’ll find the series of caves. Very similar to each other with small rooms, and carvings and entrances all along, you will feel like you have entered a land of the old.

Cave 9 is where you can find sculpturings and the main Bhuddha Stuppa. To see the Caves on the outer layer of the park. You’ll need to go climb or rally over from the side of the park (I climbed up) and then make your way down to the other side where there are 3-4 openings and cave like structures. Mahakali Caves may have lost their early pre age charm and beauty but from whatever is still left of it, it does still seem to be really beautiful and peaceful. This place can be visited by one and all, and is doesn’t require a trek or massive amount of time investment to visit, it is right within the city. Close to every Mumbaikar. Yet quite far away, as people don’t take out the time or are unaware about its existence. I wish more people knew, and cared and worked towards safe guarding its resemblance and history.

Visiting the caves was surely, enjoyable. I can’t wait for my next trip. Either solo or with a group. Either somewhere far or somewhere close. I am sure it will be memorable.

This is Happy (Or you can call me Al) signing off, until next time.
Have a great day.

And an adventurous weekend! :)

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Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Highest Peak In Maharashtra - Kalsubai 2015

Where? - Location Compass

Kalsubai Peak (Marathi: कळसूबाई शिखर) is the highest peak of the Sahyadris on the border of Igatpuri Taluka, Nashik district and Akole Taluka, of Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, an Indian state. 'Kalsubai' temple is located at the topmost peak of Sahyadri mountain range of Maharastra.

How To Get There:

  • Reach Kasara Railway Station (Most Economical)
  • Take local Taxi till base village Bari
  • By Road Mumbai - Kasara - Igatpuri - Ghoti - Bari
  • Kalsubai Trek from Pune By Road Pune - Sangamner - Rajur - Bhandardara - Bari

Kalsubai Trek Climb: Medium/Moderate 3 hours

Kalsubai Height: 1646 meters (5400 feet)

When? - Ideal Time To Getaway

Best Period To Getaway: June - December
Pooja Days (Temple Prayer): Tuesday & Thursday

The best time to go is during Navratri (A festival period) when there is a mela (Celebration of sorts) with a lot of people and festive happenings. Also during June to December at the start of the monsoons and winter as the temperature is much more pleasant than it is during the summers. Also you can enjoy the winds and rains better during the end of the year period (Also waterfalls!).

I happened to head out during July, so it was bliss to say the least. The cold monsoon wind, backed by heavy yet comforting rains was surely a treat.

My Happy Getaway - Kalsubai 2015

It was a cool Saturday night with a hint of a slight drizzle, and I was done with work like any other ordinary day pretty late. After looking forward to this trip for a weeks or months, with Kushal (A really close trekking friend of mine.)  I think to finally head out was surely a great feeling. So we were deciding between Kalsubai and Peb. And the highest peak of Maharashtra? Well yeah. How could you possible second option that .So Kalsubai it was. We head out at around 4am ish. Reached Kasara. You do get busses and taxi’s from the station to Bari the base village of Kalsubai close to Igatpuri and Nashik. We bussed it cause we wanted to do this old school style. And it was quite far (30-40 mins or so in the bus.) We were soon dropped off in the middle of a road, parallel to the road heading to this hills. You do get this feeling when you head out towards the Sahyadris a feeling of triumph, history and belonging. And as a backpacker there is not a whole that you’d even want out of a trip apart from this feeling, this feeling of being home. So we reached the base village, and since neither of us had been there before we sort started making our way to the top. You’ll find a lot of people asking to show you around for a small sum of money or guide you through if you're new to the place. Also a lot of shops offering meals. Now if you are in a group or completely new to trekking this may not be a bad idea, but the route that they may take you through might be unfamiliar and I can’t vouch for the safety of the same. However what I’d suggest is ask local shopkeepers and fellow travellers which way to go towards. Because the patch isn’t as confusing or hard to make out. You just need to keep going upwards. So we asked the locals around and got onto the right patch. So I’m sure anyone can.

We had to take off our shoes and walk through a stream. Oh the beautiful feeling. You feel exactly the same as you do when you feel when you're on top when you step into the clean pure water (It does depend when you visit though, early morning visit was when we did.). After that we stopped after a decent climb for a quick snack and then we kept heading up. You do find small stalls and lemonade vendors on your way who are quite kind and friendly and will help show you directions. We made a few stops, and cross quite a few ladders on our way. I think more than this being a moderate trek it is a trek that tests your endurance and stamina levels. As the patch isn’t really hard but is a long and distant patch. (Well it is the highest, for a reason.) We reached the first based after crossing a few leaders.

I think the most disappointing or thing that you should be most aware off is the fact that you’ll never be able to see the top most point from the bottom. Or until you are really close. You always feel you are right there, and bam a new peak appears. This will happen twice, till you really see the top. And don’t lose hope, because it is totally worth it. We went up and up and even though I was demotivated we hadn’t reach I was eager to see what it would be like on the top. Once we reached the second base I could see clouds all around the last one. And a patch that was barely visible. You reach up and then you are surrounded by clouds and the wind blows so strongly that it can blow you or your bag pack away. The temple is quite beautifully kept, and you’d find a guard keeper who does pray and take offerings in. The local denti is believed and worshiped by many and people believe that the statue inside the temple has been present there since 400 years or so. I think the most refreshing feeling is when you have the wind keep changing its direction the sun shining all of a sudden and the winds blowing the clouds away and opening up the beautiful view from the top of Maharashtra and the Sahyadris. Words cannot contain what me and Kushal probably felt. I think its for days like these we live for. We soon, started heading back down and enjoyed each others conversations and company. Kushal had also brought some snacks, that I really liked. And we found a dog on our way back that we gave some off our left over snacks too. We then started heading back wards.

You’d think travelling alone is fun. But travelling in a smaller group is quite a lot of fun too. I surely plan on doing more of these not so impromptu and free way trips with Kushal and other backpackers. Hopefully to the highest peak in another city soon.

This is Happy (Or you can call me Al) signing off, until next time.
Have a great day.
And an adventurous weekend! :)      

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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A Lost & Depleted City Fort - Riwa Fort 2015

It’s fun sometimes, to pack your bags and head out exploring. To climb new mountains and visit unexplored places. I often look for places and research about lost forts and historical monuments. I look up places around me, that id never have had visited If I didn't know or have this interest in travelling. I recently came across this fort called as Riwa Fort, Google maps seemed to know where it was located. And Wikipedia had a paragraph or so about it. So I was like, what the hell. Let’s go check this out. So before I head out for my day filled with work, meetings and other not so fun things I decided to visit this fort.

I took a cab, but its easily accessible by train too as it is located very close to Sion Station. Took me 15-20 mins from Bandra, but could take lesser by train. So firstly, this is not an easy fort to find. Even though Google Maps has it marked down, it did take me quite some time to locate this fort. I went through circles, a slum, around the talav and finally near an Ayurvedic center is where I located a gate that had stairs going upwards. After being lost for a while, I finally began to ask people where is the god damn fort? I showed them the map too. A few suggested that it must be on the hill. And since nothing else seemed more likely. I started climbing up the stairs. I met this cleaner or chacha (Uncle) of some sort who had flashy red eyes and a stinge of the alcohol he was drinking and pointed towards no particular direction and said haan beta Killa Killa. (Hahahahah!). So the base layer has some plantation circles happening by the center. And the higher you climb (which is not very high.) you begin to see remains of the fort. It’s hardly even a fort. If you like big walls and a lot to see this is probably not for you as there wasn’t much to see at all. There's just a few stairs if at all they count as remains and a Bastian built with black rock which stands tall on the hill. Fort Riwa was built by Britishers after the attack of Siddi of Janjira on Mumbai in 1672 AD. After Siddi’s attack, Britishers constructed chains of new forts around Mumbai. This fort is one of them. It is located quite close to the Dharavi slums and Sion.

Mahim creek divided the main islands of Mumbai from Saashti Islands. Saashti Island was under the regime of Portugese. In those days trade was carried through the Mahim creek and Saashti islands. The main aim to build this fort was to keep an eye on the trade activities in the Mahim creek and also to protect themselves from the potential threat from Portuguese and Marathas from the north. The fort was built by Jerald Augier in 1672 A.D.

So this fort historically seemed to be used only to keep watch, and it being on a hill seems to make that seem feasible. There is a decent view that can be enjoyed from the hill too.

It was a fun getaway, to see whatever it is that remained of the place. I still felt that there was more to the fort. And that you know I was probably at the wrong place or not there yet. I tried going through different paths and realised that this is it. Sometimes even a little bit is a lot, in terms of memories of what is left of places or things. So I sat down then at the basitan and looked into the forest. It felt warm and good. The birds there made a lot of noise, and the peace and quiet really makes you feel like you are home. You can see a lot of the city from the hill, the roads, vehicles and people. Soon I began to head back towards work, leaving the hill, stairs and greenery behind. I could claim that this is a scam for a fort. And probably google and everyone else shouldn’t really call it a fort. But you know what? I don’t really feel that bad. It is what it is. Expectations and how majestic or well kept other forts are shouldn’t come in the way of a new experience. I loved that is so long lost, yet so close to home and how people don’t seem to care for it and yet it stands tall to be loved, seen and explored by people. Would surely love to visit again soon, maybe this time with a group or more people.

Pictures of the Fort  (Riwa Fort 2015):

This is Happy (Or you can call me Al) signing off, until next time.

Have a great day, and an adventurous weekend! :)                      

The Happy Getaway:
Twitter: @thehappygetaway

Thank You

Alvin Anthony