The long way to Karnala Fort

Karnala Fort dates from the 1300s and sits 1,500 feet up on a hill that is now a bird sanctuary.  It’s about an hour and a half drive from our home in Mumbai, or about four hours on the Adventure Geek bus.

We had attempted to go to Karnala Fort a few weeks before, but were thwarted by torrential rains. I decided to give it a try again, this time joining an organized bus trip. I thought I was making our life simpler, but this was definitely not the case.

It started off well enough – we were met (relatively) on time by someone at the train station where we were told to meet. It turned out he was a student who signed up for the trip and was tasked with finding the foreigners and getting them to the bus. After a long walk to the wrong point, the bus finally arrived. The bus then parked for half an hour waiting for someone else to show up.

The bus driver took several wrong-turns and had to backtrack a few times. A few hours later, we finally arrived. Sarah and I were eager to start hiking, but it was time for breakfast. So we sat at the bottom having a little snack served out the side of a shack. “OK,” we thought, “now it must be time to move.” But we were wrong. It was time to sing the national anthem. Of course, standing around, that also means that it’s time to take photos.

We were still in pretty good spirits at this point, but definitely anxious to start moving. Finally, we started climbing. Sarah and I were quickly in the front of the group, enjoying being able to stretch our legs. But our pleasant walk in the woods was foiled by the leader of the trip who insisted that we stop regularly for everyone to catch up. “We must trek as a group,” he insisted. “You consider this a trek?” I wondered to myself.

I used the regular pauses as occasions to take photos.

After a while, we just ran to get away. Finally, we were able to walk at a reasonable pace.

As an aside, I want a pair of Batman pants.

There were only a few groups of people dressed for fashion, as opposed to a slog up a muddy slope in the rain.

The fort itself is a pretty picturesque set of ruins.

The lichen that was growing in the shadows was an amazing fluorescent green that I didn’t think could exist in nature.

The return trip was even more absurd. Being so late, we had to stop for dinner at the bottom of the hill. The bus driver drove several hours out of the way to take the wrong bridge back to Mumbai. He was about to take another wrong turn, getting in the wrong lane at an intersection. His solution was to start backing up in traffic, hitting another car.

We finally gave up at one point, jumped off the bus, and called an Uber. We were home less than an hour later.

If nothing else, this 16-hour adventure confirmed that buying a car and hiring a driver is a worthwhile expense.

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