Around 3:00am in the morning, a cup of hot masala tea by the roadside gives me just the required warmth to keep aloof the frigid weather. As I stare out onto the winding roads ideally focussing nowhere, just another smile spans across with the very thought that I’m not heading back to Hyderabad without accomplishing Ratangad.
Oct 2nd 2008
12:30AM. Prashant and Parin get the Sumo to a grinding halt right in front of Cotton kings. Sourabh,Ashu and I hop into it while Vishal joins us a bit ahead. We pick up Rahul enroute Hinjewadi. Gourav joins us at Infy Phase II and finally we head for Sangammner after picking Trupti from Dange Chowk. It’s close to 01:30AM. It gets cold as we hit the highway and the speed of the vehicle helps not a bit. While Rahul, Vishal and Trupti try some stunts in the rear end, Gourav,Sourab, Ashu and I try catching some sleep in the mid seat. At about 03:00am somewhere about 50kms ahead of Sangammner, we happen to sight an old man sitting by the roadside selling tea on his push cart. As the aroma gets my nostrils quivering, my mind wanders somewhere else wondering at the hardships this old man had to undergo to make ends meet. For what other reason would anyone be selling tea at this untimely an hour?
Paying him, we hurl back into the vehicle and head towards Sangammner. Soon we cross Sangammner and head towards Ratanwadi through Akole and Rajur. At about 06:30 am we touch Bandardaara. An hour or so from there through kutcha roads and we reach the base village of Ratangad – Ratanwadi. Ratanwadi as such is famous for a 1000year old Shiva temple called the Amriteshwar temple.
Ideally you wouldn’t require help from the villagers if you’ve been to this place once before. But Just to be on the safer side we head to the peak with the help of Barku Kaka. Ratangad lies to the left of the Amriteshwar temple as you face it. The first fifteen minutes of the trek is pretty much a walk by the stream and at times a few subtle crosses across it. In about half an hour you’d be reaching the first plateau which would then give you a glimpse of the Ratangad peak with a cascade right ahead. Another half an hour trek up takes you to a bifurcation. Here’s where you need to be a bit careful. You’d be heading for Katrabai pass if you walk straight ahead and Ratangad if you take the other fork. About another thirty minutes of climb from here, gets you to the most renown spot of Ratangad – The hanging ladders. These two independent ladders take you up to the main entrance of the fort. After having done Bhimashankar, these seemed to be a cake walk. But then, could you ever trust to be in safe bounds if you were to climb rickety ladders that were hooked to rocks with just a couple of struts to bolster them 🙂 ?
At about 10:15am we reach the Ratangad peak. A quick breakfast in one of the caves and we then set out to explore the remnants of the erstwhile fort. The Ratangad fort gives you the one of the most beautiful views of the sahyadri valley. There’s one particulat spot from where you could get to see a couple of adjoining peaks. The very sight of the tremendous cliffs towering from the deep valley below is by itself so very rewarding! Ashu, Rahul, Gourav and I head a bit more ahead in our quest to capture the Sahyadri beauty from a higher point. Only half way through do we realise that we’ve been actually climbing the peak with the sole conviction of going up there, not even remotely bothered of how we’d head back downwards! The knee height grass was the only support we had to climb up the steep peak. Still undeterred we finally manage to reach the peak. A couple of minutes here gives you the supreme confidence of having scaled 4000ft. With only the grass to prevent us from plummeting down the cliff, the path downhill is covered pretty sheepishly 🙂 .
At about 01:20pm we finally decide to head back downhill to the base village. In approximately an hour and a quarter past it, we hit the base village. A quick quasi lunch here with whatever we’re left with and we head back to Pune. Parin was hell bent on visiting the Bhandardara dam. So we take the Shendi route and reach the dam at about 04:30pm. With dusk nearing, the climate too gets pretty comforting. Added to it, the dam full to the brim and water overflowing from the contours in brief spasms makes just a beautiful recipe to relieve all the stress that you would have accumulated over the week. A few quite moments is spent sitting on the dyke watching water lash by the walls and unleashing all that it has to show . Finally at about 05:15pm we head back towards Sangammner. After a brief snack break somewhere close to Sangammner we manage to reach Pune outskirts by around 10:00pm.
And even before I get to absorb it, I realise we’ve just covered Ratangad. After the failed attempt to pursue this during the R-K-H trek and an unavoidable let go due to my project party last weekend, October 2nd just seemed to fall in place for Ratangad 🙂 .
Route: Pune – Nashik Phata-Chakan-Narayan Gaon-Sangamner-Akole-Rajur-Randha falls-Bhandardara-Ratanwadi-Ratangad
Distance: Pune-Sangammner:~140kms; Sangammner-Bhandardara: ~60kms; Bhandardara-Ratanwadi: ~20kms;
Altitude: ~4200ft. above MSL.
Endurance: Med. | Difficulty : low [Non Monsoon] High [Monsoon]
Time : Uphill: 2.0 hrs. Downhill: 1.0 hrs
Transport: Preferably arrange a cab. Base village has remote connectivity. ST :Pune-Sangammner, Sangammner – Rajur, Rajur-Shendi, Boat: Shendi-Bandardara, Hired travel: Bandardara-Ratanwadi
Stay: Cave Available for camping [ Accomodates about 40ppl ]
Duration: Preferable opt for an Overnight stay.
Best time to visit: Late Monsoon.