As long as mountains are standing tall, the humanity shall prevail!
It isn’t exaggeration, but it’s the only truth. Every small thing society enjoys comes from mountain. Every time you travel by the only mesmerizing thing you gawk upon are huge-gigantic mountains! The sheer grandeur of these natural establishments make you wonder about how tiny humans and things made by them are.
Me and Rahul, always had such conversation which may seem boring to many people, or an excerpt from Ayn rand book. Out of these boring-irrational off beat thoughts Rahul began scheduling his trips away from the hustle of urban society. After getting bored of flights, trains, board meetings, sales meet etc. On the other side I being away from my country made us come closer to unwritten and unexplored natural establishments that are already around. He sharing his experiences and getting inspired every time he splashed muddy water was exciting and inspiring for me. So we made a deal, to start ‘ticking’ our favourite mountains, starting from the sahyadri’s.
Major part of Western Ghats in Maharashtra is distinguished set of mountains originating great rivers, shelter for wildlife, accommodating grand forts and the monsoon stopper. The treks on these explained areas are supposed to be full of excitement, mud, water and rocks! Challenging your body, psyche and willingness to reach the top and look at the world around from eagle’s eye.
The July month, me and Rahul discussed about getting to ‘RatanGad’ claimed to be most loved fort by Shivaji maharaj, yet not explored even being nearest spot from Bhandardara Dam.
Saturday morning, Rahul picked me and our new trekking partner Nitin from Thane; we started our drive towards Ratanwadi without trace of traffic and visibility merely of 50 meters due to fog and slight drizzles. Gazing at families, calling the long drives an adventurous of their weekend off roaming!
We started at 7AM, reached ratanwadi (the villege at footstep of ratangad) crossing Kasara, Igatpuri and then catching up rajur-sangamner way. After three hours of drive, and we saw the fog topped mountain once we left national highway and bgan closing in towards Bhandardara Dam, as we reached RatanWadi at the foot of hill was beautiful Shiva temple ’Amruteshwar’, built thousands of years ago and visited mostly in holy month of Shravan, has shiva linga dipped in water. Without any songs playing at vendors, no continuous ringing of bells, no coconut trash around, not a single canine roaming inside the temple made it quite special temple. ‘make a wish’ stone picking ceremony; which you will understand only if you visit the temple made three of us happy internally, since if we go by the sermons all the wishes made by three of us are going to be fulfilled.
As every tourist place has, we have pretty crooked guides here at ratangad, to be precise do not go to ‘Hotel Pravara’ if you are in Ratanwadi. The food and service is rubbish, you get pretty good food up at the top. I will share the number in the end of blog. Start your trek as early in the morning as possible, especially in monsoons. You will be pleased to see free flowing ‘Pravara’, cold-pure-tasty water. Cross it with your shoes on. Don’t try to avoid water, because it’s of no use. You need to cross small streams four times, enjoy knee deep walks through water. Climbing ratangad is not that much of a task; a beginner can do it easily in 3-4 hours. Only tricky part lies in handling the wet red soil, and the iron staircases at the last stretch of climb. During the climb, you go through rain forests, visit the sunlight for few minutes, and look at the green clad mountains around, free flowing waterfalls and songs of wild birds, a rhapsody from birds! A synchronisation it’s of music-scenery and mind without thoughts! Stand at a point deep breath look at waterfall in front of you, on the other side the pravara taking shape snakelike and on top the ratangad…
As you come to one hour from top of Ratangad, a board shows the height you are at and the small path gives you option of going towards HarishchandraGad. Keep going up and the only small hurdle of staircases awaits you. Finish it off and keep all your belongings with you, i mean no carry bags, bottles, caps should be there in your hand. The monkey awaits you; he has grown wild due to obvious reasons of getting food at his will from visitors. Lot of crazy insensitive guys intimidate him, and he has started giving it back and has started asking for food like it’s his birth right. So be patient, don’t panic simply walk down. You enter RatanGad through Tryambak Darwaja, keep walking and you will find two Caves. In one is ganapati temple, where you can stay if you are small group of 5-6 people. And the other one is pretty big, which can accommodate 20 people. Enthusiasts like to cook for themselves they can, and its fun actually. But we got our food from the guy who comes to the top of ratangad every weekend and stays there for 2 nights and days to serve people with food. He serves pretty well; Daal-rice, typical Marathi thecha-bhakari and pithal what else you want? As it started becoming darker, craving for tea mounted, we had nice GAVATI TEA! Refreshed our selves, by this time we were pretty sure that we won’t be able to visit Nedhe, the fog was so dense that we couldn’t see even at a feet. After arranging ourselves in second cave, we three and other two guys from Pune got along well, our chat went on till 10PM and everyone fell asleep. If you could keep battery or a light on through the night in the cave, its good to keep you safe from rodents.
Morning came with little bit of chill in the air, fog crept inside the cave. Everything went milky white, slowly rain stopped and fog receded. We wanted to start our decent as soon as possible, so just with a cup of tea and few biscuits we began heading back. As we reached the plateau, one side was wrapped in fog and the other shining in sunlight. The diverse nature of nature is confusing and incomprehensible. We came to the Pravara again, with sunlight shining; i couldn’t stop myself from having a bath in cold waters, the natural cold Jacuzzi! And what a relief! We were rejuvenated again, and ready to head back after having breakfast.
We came to our car parked, repacking our bags, we headed back to our places again gazing at the beauty and grandeur of Sahyadri’s and making plan of coming weekend!
The monsoon safari will go on!
How to reach:
- Road: RatanGad is easily accessible by road, connected closely to NH3 between Nasik-Mumbai. A three hour drive from Thane, without any traffic will take you till Bhandardara dam (Arthur Lake), from where Ratanwadi villege is just 15KM.
- Train: Igatpuri, Kasara and Nasik Road railway station are the closet one, from here you can hire vehicle to reach ratanwadi or there are share taxi’s available continuously.
- You can have proper Marathi food, Thecha ( Green Chilly and groundnut mixture), bhakari (a form of chapati), pithal is common. Also you can ask for simple rice and daal.
- Sometimes small tapari’s can have Maggie, to suffice instant food need.
- Before starting the climb, if any one craves for maharashtrian chicken or fish, it can be made available by villagers.
On weekdays finding food on top of Ratangad is a tricky, you will have to carry it with you from ratanwadi, or ask someone to get it for you by paying few bucks extra, on weekends Mr. Zade whos details i will be sharing is available on top who serves Tea, Maggie, daal rice at your will. It’s not extravagant food but it’s tasty for sure.
( Mr. Zade 8308037394)