Some of my classmates went to Peb (Vikatgad) in July and when I saw their pics on facebook, I (actually we all) felt like doing this trek.
Sushant Bhosale (Me),
Tushar Tapkir and
Date : 21st Aug 2011
Place : Neral, Karjat, Raigad
Route : Pune Station(via Train) -> Neral -> Fanaswadi(via Rickshaw).
Time from base village : 2 hours.
Difficulty : Medium
Not much is known about the history of this fort.
So here goes. . .
Me and Prashant left for Pune Station early this time because we were supposed to catch the 7 am Sahyadri Express to Neral. Neral is small town just 2 stations ahead of Karjat and surprisingly Sahyadri Express is the only train that halts at the Neral Station. We reached Pune Station by 6:35 and took the tickets for 5 of us.
This time Amogh had agreed to bless us with his company. We bought the tickets and called Amogh only to hear that the boy was still sleeping. The train also halts at ShivajiNagar Station, so we told him to board the train at ShivajiNagar. The train was delayed by 20 mins at Pune Station itself. So Amogh easily boarded the train at ShivajiNagar station.
It was pleasant ride from Pune to Neral, train took about 3 hours to reach Neral, By 10:30 am we were in Neral. We had a little breakfast and then took a rickshaw to Fanaswadi, its a 10 mins drive about 2-3 kms, you can even take a walk.
The trek kicks off from Fanaswadi. The start is a little confusing or at least it was to us, because of thick vegetation the road wasn’t visible. Just remember to follow the big electric poles.
The climb is tiring but very beautiful. It has dense vegetation and being the rainy season we had to walk through some patches of dense forest. Upon walking further we came across an hollow tree, classic creation of nature. JUST AMAZING!!!
Further ahead again there is a confusing turn, either you go straight or turn right. The correct way is to go straight. It gets confusing because of small waterfalls on both straight and right side and its hard to tell which path to take.
What awaits further is long but easy rock patch. The patch is very easy to climb and you’ll be on top in no time.
After here we had to cross some small rock patches where water were flowing but steps were engraved on the rocks to make it easier to cross. In 10-15 mins we reached the cave on top. We met Mr. Athalle (known as Athalle sir), we had heard about him from our friends who visited the fort just last month. Athalle sir has been living on the fort itself from last 30 years. He is an IIT alumna and has done specialization in plumbing. He is the guy responsible for the beautiful cave and temple on the top of the fort. Very interesting guy to meet.
The cave has been maintained in a very nice manner. The walls have various shlokas painted in Sanskrit.
We sat there in the cave for some time and then started our walk further. Up ahead we noticed an square opening in the wall, we were told that there is a 5ft*5ft room ahead through that opening. The opening was very small so none of us ventured in there.
And from the cave only you can see the steel steps built ahead to climb the wall. These are the steps which you would see pop up in Google image search if you search for Peb trek.
There is an eating place on the top, where you can order and get food.
There are two sets of steel steps you need to climb down on your way towards the railway track. Yes railway track, there is a toy train which runs between Neral and Matheran. This train has a stop for Vikatgad. On our way back we had to reach this track at point NM158 and walk on the track to the point NM134. NM134 is the point where road to Matheran meets the railway tracks, from where we could get a ride back to Neral.
Once you reach the tracks you have to take a left. If you take right you’ll reach Matheran.
Walk on the track is a very pleasant one, we got to see some of the best creations of the nature.
There are quite a few waterfalls as well on the way to NM134.
From Neral we took a local to Karjat and from Karjat boarded a train to Pune. The ride back from Karjat to Pune was hell. The train was jam packed and we came standing all the way from Karjat to Pune, its a 3 hour train ride, after a whole day of walking.