Trek to Tandulwadi Fort

Adventure Jul 11, 2016

Tandulwadi fort is located near Saphale, north of Mumbai at a distance of about 50 km from the bridge over Ulhas River at Ghodbunder. The fort can be reached by road via NH8, with a turn off towards Saphale. At a height of 1524 feet, it provides some beautiful views of the surrounding towns of Saphale, the Zanzorli lake and the confluence of the Surya and Vaitarna rivers. On a clear day, the nearby forts of Takmak, Kohoj and Asherigad can also be seen.

Tandulwadi is not a fully built up fort. There are very few man-made structures. A few stone ramparts can be seen towards the south as one enters the fort, and several water tanks spread over the top of the mountain. The fort was primarily used as a watch tower over the surrounding plains.

Though it was very likely to have been used as a watch tower much earlier, the first known history of the fort was in the 15th century (about 1429) during the rule of Jafar Khan, son of Ahmed Shah of the Gujarat Sultanate. It remained under the control of the Sultanate till the arrival of the Portuguese. In 1509, the Portuguese wrested Diu from Gujarat sultanate following the Battle of Diu (ref) and soon established themselves with a stronghold at the nearby Vasai area and built the magnificent Vasai Fort. The Portuguese lost control of the area to the Marathas in 1737 after long and extended battle of Bassein (ref: A handbook for India. Part ii. Bombay, publishers: John Murray ­ January 1, 1959).

Tandulwadi 1Google maps sometimes gives you unexpected and occasionally pleasant surprises… this off road route is a diversion from NH8 just after the toll before Saphale junction. On the map, it looks like a normal road that cuts a few km towards Saphale. Perfect for a jeep

Tandulwadi 2The best part is that this mud road hugs the Vaitarna river banks… great view to start the day!

Tandulwadi 3After reaching Tandulwadi village, there is a path that leads to the fort that is beautifully marked all the way up to the fort

Tandulwadi 4It was mid June, and the clouds had gathered in the sky, but there was no rain as yet. My hopes of doing my first monsoon trek seemed bleak

Tandulwadi 5There are two routes to climb. The long slightly less difficult one, and the short straight up the rocks route

Tandulwadi 6 I took the short one up that requires climbing over a pile of rocks that leads straight uphill

Tandulwadi 7This is the view of the fort as you climb straight up the short route!

Tandulwadi 8The route passes these caves, but I did not risk trying to access the caves without any company or equipment

Tandulwadi 9Finally at the end of the climb the “Maha darwaja” or grand entrance to the fort!

Tandulwadi 10This is one of the only part of the fort that has a man-made rampart. There are very few other man-made structures.

Tandulwadi 11 I was rewarded with a fabulous view… a photo taken by hanging the camera on a tree

Tandulwadi 12 And here is the panoramic view

Tandulwadi 13 The only real features around the fort are several water tanks, but all of them were dry

Tandulwadi 14 You can climb through ridges like this one and cross over to 2 neighbouring peaks to get an even better view!

Tandulwadi 15 Met a group of trekkers who had also come up early Sunday morning, with a full load of cooking materials expecting to cook a meal… but guess what… they forgot to bring matches… so all they did was help me take a photo before going back downhill

Tandulwadi 16 The confluence of the two rivers can be seen quite clearly from the top. The river to the left is the Surya and the one on the right is Vaitarna

Tandulwadi 17 This looks like a newly created water harvesting attempt. But I later found out that there always was a lake here that is now being dug out further

Tandulwadi 18 I almost lost my way while climbing down, for I could not find the longer path downhill. Luckily I got help from some villagers who came up to the fort.

Tandulwadi 19 I managed to reach down to the village safely, and just managing to hold my thirst, having exhausted my drinking water

Tandulwadi 20 I filled up my water bottle at the village well before heading back

Tandulwadi 21 Back at the base village, I sought out the Lalthane village nearby where there is supposed to be some reservoir built by the Portuguese. I chatted with the owner of this house who has lived here for 9 generations and he did not know of any such reservoir

And here is the best way to enjoy the view from the fort:

And this is the route I took from Andheri to Tandulwadi:


Ashutosh Bijoor

Adventurer, mathematician, software architect, cyclist, musician, aspiring wood worker