So finally our 3rd year final semester exams came to an end. And we all decided to go to a trek.
We started to look for a spot and finally decided to go to RATANGAD!!!!
Almost all the websites we saw suggested the best season to go would be between September to February, we figured how hard would it be??? As it turns out it wasn’t the easiest of the treks. But it was a nice experience.
Sushant Bhosale (Me)
Vishal Salve and
Date : 19th and 20th June 2011
Place : Ratangad, Ratanwadi, Ahmednagar
Time from base village : 2 hours
Difficulty : Medium
This fort does not have any historic significance. It was captured by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and it was one of his favorite fort. Shivaji Maharaj loved this fort because of the natural scenic beauty surrounding the area.
Ratangad is said to be the origin of Pravara/Amrutvahini river. The Bhandardara dam is constructed on this river.
Ratanwadi, the base village, has an Amruteshwar temple which can be traced back to the Hemadpant era of the 8th century. There’s a natural cave on the top of the fort called ‘Nedhe’ meaning the ‘point of the needle’. It’s a 10×60 feet natural hole in the mountain which is supposedly caused by wind erosion.
So here goes. . .
We started in the morning at 6:00 am, we all were supposed to meet at the Shivajinagar bus stand. We were supposed to catch a bus to Akole at 6:30 am as the MSRTC website said but when we reached the bus stand, the we were told there is no bus to Akole at 6:30 am but there is one at 7:30 am so we had to wait for an hour. Bummer at the start of the journey itself.
Then we waited, when till 7:20 there was no bus one of us again went to inquire and was told there’s no bus at all. God bless MSRTC. But there was a direct bus to Rajur where we actually intended to go, and to our luck when we were at the inquiry counter the bus driver of the Rajur bus came there and told us that the bus is scheduled to leave in 10mins and is parked on the other side. So we picked up our stuff and ran towards the bus and finally we were on the bus to Rajur.
It took about 4 hours for the bus to reach Rajur. Once we were in Rajur we immediately came outside the bus stand and started looking for a vehicle to reach Shendi/Bhandardara. The environment was a little chaotic it being a Sunday, the market day. There are private taxis in Rajur which’ll take you to Shendi on seat basis for 15 bucks.
We were in Shendi by 1:00 pm. Once in Shendi we enquired about launch or boat to reach Ratanwadi but were told that the launch is not available all round the year and it is only available after the rainy season is over. It was almost lunch time and we all were famished so we decided to have lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch we started looking for a taxi to take us to Ratanwadi. One of the guy was ready but asked for Rs. 400, we bargained a little and finally we convinced him for Rs. 350. And finally we began our journey to Ratanwadi. The route to Ratanwadi is pretty rough but it has the most beautiful view of the Bhandardara dam’s back water.
We were in Ratanwadi by 3:30 pm. We decided to visit the Amruteshwar temple the next day as we were already late and had to make it to the top before sundown. We started our trek at about 4:00 pm. Local kids take Rs. 200 to be your guide and they accompany to the top.
NOTE :- If you don’t have anyone whose been to Ratangad then it is advised to take a guide. As the terrain is very confusing and especially in the rainy season because of the fog the actual fort is not visible from the base village. There are very good chances that you would be lost. So hire a guide.
We thought it must be a simple, straight way to the top. We decided not to hire a guide but we weren’t aware of the terrain. One of the villager told us that their are arrow marks on the road which we could follow. We saw the first arrow, which confirmed we were on the right path.
But after the first arrow I guess we lost track of the correct way and strayed on some other hill. After climbing for half an hour we were on the top and there was no further way visible. We went to one of the corner of the hill and spotted some other trekkers on the hill in front of us and realized that we were on the wrong path. We came down the hill and during our descend the rain started to pour as hell. In just 5 mins we were completely drenched and as far as our climb was concerned we haven’t even started yet.
When we were finally down Tushar and Prashant suggested to go back to the village and climb in the morning. But that was not a viable option as we were already wet and we had to make it to Pune by evening next day. Going back would have spoiled the entire schedule. So somehow me and Rahul convinced them to continue.
We continued in the direction where we saw the other group of trekkers. And finally we spotted another one of those arrows confirming the right path. However we didn’t come across the other group. We continued the climb and this time we decided that if we don’t see an arrow for long we go back to the last one and trace the route correctly.
Finally after walking for about 1 and a half hour we were at the base of the two ladders. It was raining and it was almost sundown so we climbed up the ladder which by the way is in very bad condition. On the top of the ladder, there is a rock patch which is very thrilling to climb. But as I mentioned it was raining all day there was water coming down the rock patch. We all were scared a little as it was very dangerous and with water flowing down, all the rock swere very slippery. But somehow we all made it to the top by quarter to seven and it wasn’t completely dark yet.
On the top there are two caves. One of the caves has a temple and another one can be used to spend the night. The cave is in very good condition and it is not open, it has a gate like opening and is covered from all the directions. The gate even has a grill which can be closed after dark.
There was fog all around, the visibility was so low that the fence of the hill also not completely visible from the cave. So once in the cave, we decided to make fire as it was really cold. Prashant had brought a bottle of Kerosene and we found wood in the cave. But to our bad luck the wood was wet. Prashant and Rahul tried but were not lucky in getting the fire going. We all were carrying Top Ramen packets, our plan was to cook on the top. But no fire, no cooking.
Vishal and I were carrying tiffin boxes so we all ate and went to sleep. We hung a bed sheet on the grill in order to prevent the wind from entering the cave. The blowing wind was carrying a lot of mist into the cave. But the bed sheet we hung did help a little bit.
Everyone went to sleep but I couldn’t sleep, it was really cold. Finally at about midnight I went to sleep but couldn’t sleep for long and we all were awake by 4:00 am in the morning. The topic of discussion was how to climb down the rock patch we came from. Climbing down that patch was going to difficult than climbing up because of impaired visibility.
Prashant and Tushar again tried to light the fire but failed. They were playing with the wood and the kerosene for about 2 hours before finally giving up. Prashant was planning on cooking.
After they gave up at about 6:30 am we gathered all of our stuff and packed it into the bags. We went out to see the fort but it wasn’t a good sight outside, the fog had gotten thick. Since our cave was on the other side of the direction of the wind we weren’t aware of the wind speed. Once we were on the clear top of the fort the wind was blowing so fast that if you jumped you wouldn’t land at the same place, the wind would displace you by a foot or so. It wasn’t a pretty seen and it was still raining. So we decided to skip the fort seeing (nothing was visible anyways).
We went back to the cave, picked up our stuff and started our descend. And fortunately all of us made it down the rock patch and the ladders as well safely. I had to carry two bags down as Vishal was not able to carry his.
Our luck hadn’t changed the next day as well cause climbing down we again lost track of the road so it delayed us a little but finally we were at the base village. We went to the Amruteshwar temple.
There we told one of the boys for the breakfast, and when we were at his place we also inquired about the getting back to Shendi. They told us that there was no other way than to wait for some taxi to arrive from Shendi, which had very less chances of happening as it was a Monday. We went to the bus stand and waited there. The teacher from the school had the phone number of one of the drivers and arranged the transportation for us. The taxi guy dropped us directly to Rajur, cost us another 480 bucks. You know, what the weird part is that the distance from Rajur to Shendi is 20 kms for which they take Rs. 15 per head. And Ratangad is also 20 kms from Shendi for which they charge Rs. 400 per taxi, as it is the path less traveled.
From Rajur we took a taxi to Akole, from Akole an ST bus dropped us to Sangamner. We had lunch in Sangamner and since Sangamner lies on the Nashik-Pune route there are buses which ply frequently. And by 11:30 pm we were in Pune.