Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ratangad Trek by Awhaan Trekkers

Well you must be wondering what this guy is talking about, what's the great deal about it. But let me tell you two days I spent on this trek are ones I'll cherish forever, really. We trekked, we traveled in the packed jeep, on it's roof and yes, 4-5 hours of boating, man thats amazing.

We started late friday night, we took last local from Mumbai to Kasara (12-15 AM at Dadar), we means six of us, myself Parag, Kedar, Mayur, Prasad, Vikas and Nana, that's my Aawhan Trekking Group. Enough of the introduction, now this train is slow one and reaches Kasara by 2-55 AM. Now here you can either wait till morning at station or venture outside and find some transport for Igatpuri, preferably Ghoti, villages above the Kasara Ghat. We did ventured out but were not successful in getting any transportation for a long time but eventually after a hour or so we got one jeep carrying newspapers to get us to Ghoti. The journey was thrilling one which lasted for 40-45 minutes, and I seriously doubt that jeep didn't have any breakes as we could only see other vehicles getting overtook by our jeep. In Ghoti we got down at ST stand, but to our bad luck the bus to next stop Shendi had left a short while ago (Reach Ghoti by 5-00AM to be in time for this bus, would be convenient and much cheaper). Now the next bus is at 7-15 AM, but we decided not to wait that long as it was just 5-30 AM, so we went towards village. This particular village is main market place for nearby farmers and is relatively bigger. Now we moved towards the Jain temple in the village from where jeeps are available for hire towards Shendi. We had cup of tea and Kanda-Poha at near by hotel, there only we booked one jeep for next part of our journey, it cost us 300 Rs for whole jeep. We thought it was worth it because none of us had slept in the night. But it turned out to be a great disappointment as the vehicle turned out to be Tempo or Goods carrier. So now be careful for such siuations and always check the vehicle before booking.
The journey to Shendi is through picturesque surroundings , it takes little over a hour and on the way you can see Kalsubai, highest peak in Maharashtra, which is in the background of the Bari village. We had very much fun in our little jeep, so much that we never realized when we reached Shendi .
Now as we reached our driver went running towards the teawalla. Now when we removed our sacks from the jeep, that chaiwalla was saying " Abhi boat ya launch band hai, gadi karke hi aage jana padega" ( Boat service is closed u need to hire jeep again). Now we knew that no such thing is possible so we simply negelected his free advice and tea. A word of caution here for all who wish to go to Ratangad, don't believe this particular chaiwalla, Mr. Mahanor of Dam Corner stall, as he intends to misguide tourist and in turn making them hire costly jeeps instead of boats. Just ignore him and go down towards the lake. There are boats available all the time either the ones which are there for tourists or the launch which leaves at 9-00 AM.
The view from the lake side is realluy breathtaking. We hired boat for 300 Rs, which now I feel relatively cheaper considering the amount of effort it takes to cross the lake(about 1.5-2 Hrs.).
Frankly speaking there is no harm giving a bit extra to these people for their hard work which they really deserve. We hired complete boat and let me tell you it is such a royal experience. The lake of Bhaandardar is surrounded by tall mountains such as Pabargad, Kalsubai Range and Ratan-Harishchandra range. Here I would like to suggest to take local guide with the help of boatwallas, We hired a guy named Tulsiram (Tu-l-shi-ram), who was also boatman for us. I must say he was of great help for us, anyone who wants to visit Ratangad can ask for this guy either by the lakeside or on reaching 1st Ratanwadi, he's very well mannered and knows history of the place very well. Ratanwadi is such a beautiful village situated on the banks of the lake that you will fall in love with it on first site.

Now starts 3-4 hours long journey towards Ratangad. On the way is one of the most beautiful and exquisite Temple in our whole county, Amruteshwar temple in the 3rd Ratanwadi. Its simply awesome and it is one of the best carved temple in this country, believe me. We spent good one hour appreciating art and architecture of the temple. Nearby there is water reservoir which has different Avataars of God Vishnu carved on its all side, this one is similar to one on Harishchandragad but it has all its statues well kept are in good condition.

Now we resume our journey towards our main aim Ratangad, from here you can see great view of Ratangad with Khutta pinnacle on its right side. From here it take around 2-3 Hours o reach the shidi or iron steps. In the way we cross river Pravara 8 times.When you come to the base of main mountain of Ratangad there are two ways, left on goes towards Katrabai Khind and then towards Harishchandragad via Pachnai while right one takes us towards shidis of Ratangad. Its better to have guide for the whole route as you won't get lost in the dense forest of Ratangad.

Ratangad shidis are full of adventure and are more of adventure ride, really. They keep moving on lest and right as you move up, caution is must while crossing these, experience in Sahyadris can definitely help here as there are eve worse and adventurous shidis in the Sahyadris. Last patch of the shidi is bit difficult and newcomers must be helped on this spots. Just above these spot is first door/ Darwaza of Ratangad, Ganesh Darawaza with Ganpatibappa carved on one side. From here you can catch some air and marvel ate the way we traced for coming here.

From here some easy climbing take you towards the topod fort, as you emerge on top path towards left takes you to the Hanumandarwaza and towards right are caves. First of all accommodation so take the right and get the cave of your choice if available. First one also has Godess Temple in it and is much more enclosed so ideal one for stay which can take upto10-12 people. Next one is bigger one and can easily accommodate group of 25-30 people. Now you can take water from cisterns which are behind 'Ranicha Huda or Golburuj' a bit downwards. you can see Golburuj once you cross Hanumandarwaza. You can also see breathaking view from Katrabaicha buruj, the view of depth is deadly and dangerous. You can also see Agniban pinnacle in the Katrabai range and Ghanchakkar mountain range behind that. Its simply amazing , now if you go towards right from Golburujafter about 15-20 minutes you pass ane more cistern, here water is drinkable too and is ice cold. From here onwards the way is completely covered with grass as tall as man, so caution is very necessary as we are now around 3500 feet above the sealevel and 200 feet from the base. This path is all the way on the edge of the fort. This path after 30 minutes takes you to one end from here you can see Khutta pinnacle in an awesome view. Right beneath is the Trimbakdarwaza which was the main route for the fort which goes down till Samrat village. Trimbakdarwaza is carved completely in stone and is unique feature of the fort. Now atop of this patch is 'Nedh' a natural hole in the mountain, the view is very nice from here and you can see Alang, Madan and Kulang from here, some of the toughest forts in Sahyadris. Now we are on the other side of fort from here you can see 'Ajoba Parvat and Seetech Palna Pinnacle'. In front you can see 'Ban pinnacle and in in the opposite range somewhere is the Karoli ghat which takes you down in the Konkan. Its tough one as we heard from the group which climbed from that side. Now ahead are some cisterns and then Kalyandarwaza, which is now completely closed but still offers breathtaking view of the Konkan region.

Now all the time we were taking joy of wandering on the fort freely there was something tragic was hapenning to us which we came to know on reaching our cave. All the breads which we had brought for the dinner to make Misal-pav were taken away by monkeys , so thats another word of caution, Do not leave your belongings just like that in the cave, cover them properly under the carry mat. So in the dinner we could only it delicious Misal which we prepared by ourselves in the evening. It was tiring day but a beautiful one too, so we slept by 9-30 PM.

We woke up very early in the morning and got down by the same way, we had already told Tulsiram to make arrangement for the Breakfast and boat for Shendi which he had done aptly, Thanks a topn for that Tulsi. We reached shendi at around 1-00 PM, then we took share jeep for Ghoti and the another share jeep for Kasara. Please take care to reach Kasara befor 3-30PM because next train after 3-52 PMlocal is at 6-19 PM. We sadly missed 3-52 train so we had to spend good 2 hours in Kasara which is wastage of time really. So keep checking the schedule while coming down from the fort, leave fort by 7-30 to 8-00 AM, you can easily catch the 3-52 train.

So wasn't it a complete trek with all kinds of travels clubbed into one, so when are you planning your visit to Ratangad?????

So thats all of the Ratangad trek , keep waiting for next Aawhan Trek!!!!!!!