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The view from the base village entrance.

Ratangad Fort, a 2000 year old structure that belonged to the legendary Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is set atop 1,297 meters-4,255 feet, Ratanwadi being its base village in Igatpuri, Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra, India. It is the second highest peak in Ahmednagar that lies in the Ajoba mountain range.

After my night trek to Irshalgad Fort in January this year, a monsoon trek to Ratangad Fort was the next one that came my way through a very adventurous friend, Batul. She wants to “conquer one mountain at a time” and I am glad to have been a part of two till date.

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This time my friends and I went through Travel Trikon for this monsoon trek on the weekend. It’s easier and safer being with professional trekking groups when you are a beginner or its your first time trekking a place or you are a bunch of adventurous girls and aren’t allowed to wander all by yourselves. Truth be told, nobody wants to get lost in the woods because hell yeah, its freaky and dangerous. Hence, it’s always advisable to go with big trekking groups.

We met on a Saturday at 11:20pm at Dadar near Pritam Hotel which was our pick-up point. We boarded the bus thereafter and commenced our journey to the mountains. During the bus journey games such as Virtual Volleyball and Antakshari were played to pass time. However I opted to sleep because I didn’t want to fight a headache the next day amidst the beauty of nature. At 6am  we were at the base village snacking on some Poha and getting geared up for the trek. The morning air there was so fresh and along with the rains it made it even better!

After a brief introduction with our fellow trekkers we headed up above the world so high in the rawness of nature. The climate was absolutely amazing. Perfect amount of sunshine, mist and breeze, not to forget the rainfall that kept pouring every now and then. I spotted a few huts made of hay and bricks that reminded me of those typical rustic settings in stories and movies.

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As we walked further the paths got narrower. When we came across our first stream of water we all tried really hard not to get our shoes wet but it was pointless as there were deeper waters to wade through ahead. At some points the only way to transverse on the other side of land was by passing through waterfalls or little streams. So we gave into mother nature, solely and wholly! Sadly due to the rains and other risk factors I didn’t capture any close pictures of the waterfall. But believe me, it was beautiful!

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This trek was indeed way longer that my last one. My legs were really tired! But it wasn’t difficult trekking wise. After awhile I was bored because the only thing I could see around was FOG! I am not afraid of heights so I love to see down below because that gives some thrill and adventurous feeling! Nevertheless, it was still quite an accomplishment to reach all the way to the top after cribbing about how bored I was of the foggy vision! When we were 90% done with the trek, we came across steep ladders that were mentioned to us at the start of the trek. The second ladder out of the four was the most spine chilling. Firstly its handle was broken and secondly there was no railing at the edge. So one slip and you are deep-down-dead. Thankfully, our lead, Manoj stood as a barrier between life and death and helped us get up and down the ladder with his positive encouragement and “don’t push me down” warnings! Haha!

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The cold wind at the top had completely blown me away. We entered through the Tryambak Darwaza – The main entrance to Ratangad fort. We saw the ‘Eye of the Needle” a natural rock peak with a cavity in it which occurred naturally due to harsh winds over the years, we climbed and explored an old structure which had these typical ancient window structures and we also ate hot Maggie noodles quoted at 40 rupees for a tiny serving cooked freshly in the caves and eaten by trekkers in the caves surrounded by many monkeys. There was also a temple up there.
TIP: Don’t even think of eating close to the monkeys or flashing your cool gadgets. Because they gotta grab ’em all! 😛

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