“The mountains seem to have conquered us long before we set foot on them, and they will remain long after our brief existence. This indomitable force of the mountains gives us humans a blank canvas on which to paint the drive of discovery and, in the process, test the limits of human performance.”
– Conrad Anker
It was my first trekking and also my first experience with the AO Rangers group. This group had endeavour many such treks in the past, but I got to experience my first trek with them. Ratangad trek has taught me a lot. It was an awesome experience trekking from the base to the top of the mountain and the view, breathtaking.
More than the climb, trekking to the base was more challenging.
“Ratan” means Jewel in Hindi and this beautiful hill fort definitely deserves to be called, ‘Jewels of the Fort.’ It is situated amidst the beautiful jungles overlooking the Sahyadri range of mountains. From the top of the fort neighbouring forts like Alang, Kulang, Madangad, Harishchandragad, Patta are seen easily. Ratangad has a natural rock peak with a cavity in it at the top which is called ‘Nedhe’ or ‘Eye of the Needle’. This hill fort is in Ratanwadi, Maharashtra, India and is about 400 years old. Geographically Ratangad is located in the Ahmadnagar district of Maharashtra, on the banks of Bhandardara lake at a height of 4255 feet above sea level.
Ratangad has still the remains of the fort with bastions and stone walls. There are many rock cut water cisterns on the fort which store potable water throughout the year and the water here is crystal clear and cool like its kept in the fridge. There is a cave within the rock which can accommodate up-to 20 people. Some villagers even build shacks near the cave and provide tea, snacks, maggi and even food.There are two main routes to reach the fort. One route starts from village Samrad and the other from village Ratanwadi. Ratanwadi trek is the simplest one. We have to go through dense forest and on the way there are shacks made by the villagers where they supply water and lemonade to drench your thirst.You reach to a clearing where it sprouts into 2 trails one leading to Ratangad and the other one to Harishchandragad. Then there are steel ladders which takes you to the first gate of the fort.
Amruteshwar Temple is an intricately carved Shiva temple built in Ratanwadi over a thousand years ago and is a must see place because of its high class architecture. When you are inside the temple you feel so relaxed and cool, mainly due to the stone used for its construction.
Trip Starting From: Mumbai
Trip Location: Igatpuri
About the activity:
- Difficulty Level: Medium
- Endurance Level: High
- Cave Exploration
- Breakfast in Ratanwadi
- Lunch and Dinner at Fort
- Bus from Mumbai to the base camp and back
- Height of Fort: 4255 ft approx.
- Base Village: Ratanwadi
- District: Nashik
- Region: Igatpuri
- Route from Mumbai: Mumbai – Thane – Igapuri – Take – Ghoti – Bari – Ratanwadi
- Distance from Mumbai: 180 km approx.
- Distance from Pune: 215 km approx.
- Total time required for climbing: 3 hours one way
- Total distance for climbing: 6 km approx.
- Total participants: 19
00:30 Left from Borivali by bus
01:30 Picked people from Thane
04:00 Halt at Kasara ghat for tea
05:30 Reached base village – Ratanwadi
08:00 Freshen up, tea & breakfast
09:30 Start trek towards Ratangad
13:30 Reached Ratangad
14:30 Lunch & Rest
16:00 Tea & Snacks
16:30 Fort exploring
20:00 Dinner & night stay in the cave
07:00 Wake up
07:30 Freshen up, tea & breakfast
08:30 Start descending fort
14:30 Reached Ratanwadi (coz tried another route which was bit difficult and longcut)
15:00 Lunch in village
16:00 Visited Amruteshwar Temple in Ratanwadi
Things to carry:
- Backpack/Haversack to keep hands free
- Water Bottle 3 ltrs
- Track pants and full sleeve cotton t-shirt.
- Extra pair of clothes
- Ready to eat food, like plum cakes, chocolate bar, fruits, some snacks & biscuits etc
- Electoral or Glucon D powder
- Personal medication and toiletries
- Sunscreen, cap, glares
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Light weight towel
- Sweater/ Jacket: To keep you warm during cold mornings and night.
- Sleeping Bag
Highlights of Ratangad:
- Eye of Needle
- 4 Doors – Ganesh, Hanuman, Konkan & Trimbak
- Numerous Water Cisterns/ Tanks
- Amruteshwar Temple
About AO Rangers Group
AO is the call given during the trek. If you are left behind, which will never happen… But if this happens then there is a call AO, the group will respond after hearing your call as OA. This group is lead by Prathamesh Parab. To explore treks with this group you can contact Prathamesh Parab – 9869815531
Sharing some of the images from the trek…