Just 10 kms off the busy Bombay-Pune highway a sign welcomes visitors to the Karnala Bird sanctuary. As the road winds up a little ghat, travel-weary visitors feel a sudden freshness in the air as they enter this pocket-sized Eden
Karnala is dominated by a fort which rises up from the sanctuary at its base. The fort was originally used by the Marathas and its strategic location affords a view of the countryside for miles around.
A winding path leads to the pinnacle 450 metres above and on a clear day you can see the Bombay coastline barely 30 kms away. The walk is especially beautiful during the monsoons Bright pink begonias stand out against damp, dark rocks along the path right up to the pinnacle, which is almost permanently wreathed in wisps of cloud and mist at this time of year.
Karnala is a birdwatcher's paradise and even the casual picnicker is rewarded with sights of colourful local bird species. The best time of year for bird-watching is between November and February. Spot sunbirds, drongoes, orioles, babblers and the occasional male paradise flycatcher with its unusual silvery-white tail. The sanctuary is also home to troops of monkeys and herds of deer. On a lucky day you might even be rewarded with your first glimpse of a panther. For visitors who wish to stay overnight, MTDC has rent-a-tent facilities.
Ajanta & Ellora
Its close proximity to Mumbai makes Karnala an ideal spot for an all-day picnic. Bring a packed lunch from home or get a quick, delicious snack of vada-pau or fresh, hot poha at one of the small restaurants at the base of the hill. With so much to do and see, a trip to Karnala could well be the highpoint of your weekend.
Area: 4.8 sq kms.
How to get there:
By Road: Karnala is conveniently located, a two hour drive from Mumbai. Buses ply regularly between Mumbai and Panvel and taxis and autorickshaws easily cover the 12 km distance from Panvel.
By Rail: Many trains from Bombay's V.T.Station (Central Line) stop at Panvel from where autorickshaws and taxis can help you complete your journey to Karnala.
Accomodation: MTDC's rent-a-tent facilities are available for visitors who wish to spend the night. The forest department has cottages for hire.
Information: Courtesy Government of India
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.