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.
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.
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!
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!
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! 😛
- I wish I could just sit up in the caves for a little longer but it was time to say goodbye as we had to reach the base village before it got dark. While descending we had to be really careful as it was pouring heavily and those ladders scared almost everyone. We almost missed falling down a couple of times due to the mushy soil and hence everyone’s pace was slow and cautious. My body and mind had almost given up towards the end and I guess a part of my soul was still wandering in those mountains. I wanted to just sit for a while and not walk and admire the beauty around me. It sucks at times while trekking because we are so focused on our path that we don’t pause to look around and miss out on some really scenic views. I did however spot little baby crabs, pretty stones in the streams, mist on various kinds of leaves and some small beans. There were these tiny flies/bugs which were the most annoying, they kept flying around the face and I ended up killing a few that bit me. Regardless, there was beauty in every step we took.
We reached the base village at 3:30pm, changed, freshened up, ate lunch and then headed to the bus and returned home safe and sound around 11pm on Sunday. A big thank you to Manoj for coordinating with us from the start to the end and taking care of us all, Mumpy for not leaving us behind in the woods each time we slowed her down while taking pictures or while chilling in the waterfall or just wanting to rest at every bit we walked while descending. Also, both of them entertained us all! Thanks to the villagers who lend us their home to keep our bags, get in and out with our dirty shoes, providing sanitation facility ( needs to be a bit improvised) and food. This was my first trip with Travel Trikon and it was indeed super awesome. Looking forward to many more adventures!
P.S. The body pain after treks are so worth it! So keep exploring because YOLO! 😛
- -Zainab Attari