Ratangad To Harishchandragad Trek.
Participants: Deepak Deorukhkar & Kiran Sarode.
Duration 3 Days. Dated 14th Aug 2003 night to 17th evening Aug 2003.
Left Mumbai - CST by the Mahanagari Express at 0015 hrs. Reached
Igatpuri station at 3.15 am & walked to the ST stand. Had sleep
amidst mosquitoes & left for Shendi by the 5.00 am by Pune ST bus.
Reached Shendi at around 6.30 - 7.00 am.
It was quite cold & had that long-awaited tea. After enquiring, we
found that the boat to Ratanwadi was under a major repair. The only way
out was to either walk the 18-km distance or take a jeep. Fortunately,
we met a small group of 7 trekkers wanting to go to the same place!
Made some basic purchase of provisions like vegetables, rice, pulses,
etc. Finally started with the jeep zooming & reached Ratanwadi
within an hour. Had breakfast & started for Ratangad at 10.30 am.
Had to cross the river 2-3 times. Plenty of water in this flowing
river. Reached the junction at higher up from where the route branches
off one to Harishchandragad/Ghanchakkar, second to Ghatghar, &
third right upward to Ratangad. Reached Ratangad by 1.00 pm. Cleaned
the cave next to the Temple. Just 2 of us in this fort. Lit the stove
with some difficulty. The cave was filled with clouds. Cooked Flower
Cabbage & Rice & had good lunch though missing on the salt
which we simply forgot to carry! Took some rest. Meanwhile we heard
conversation of few people nearby the Temple, but never bothered to
see! The noise disappeared & again it was silent except for the
water falling from above the caves & the hussle of the wind blowing
from time to time. Finally, at around 5.00 pm, a group of 4 trekkers
came in. It was an end to our solitude. Best thing was that we got a
share of the salt, which they simply didn't forget to carry unlike us,
& enjoyed our supper (potatoes + rice) more than the lunch.
Got up early the next morning. Prepared tea & alongwith with some
light snacks, left the cave for Harishchandragad at around 7.30 am. Descended to the
junction mentioned above continuing on the track taking turn to the
right. We had to locate the Katrabai Pass from where we could reach the
Kumshet Village. It was a difficult time getting the reference of
various hills since they had all disappeared amongst the clouds.
Numerous crossing trails needed to be ignored. Deepak had to use his
conscience to locate the proper path towards the pass. Had to climb
this Katrabai hill. It was almost the same effort as was for climbing
Ratangad from the junction. Reached the top at around 10.00 am . Good
view from there. Had our breakfast. Could see the Kumshet village at
the base of the Vakdi pinnacle on the other side of this Katrabai Hill.
Started our descend towards the Kumshet village. On reaching there, had
a small chat with the teacher in one tiny school of this village. Then
with the Vakdi pinnacle on our left, we left for Pachnai village. Had
to climb down the plateau & then cross the Mula river. The only
possible crossing point was to be near the village Payalichi wadi. With
the help of one of the kind villager, we crossed this river. Again
climbed up a small hill to reach village Pethyachi wadi. We had our
lunch there. It was 2.00 pm. Proceeded towards Pachnai. There we missed
a shorter route & instead proceeded all the way with Kaladgad on
our adjacent right & then Nakta on our right. The route then turned
towards the left. We reached Pachnai at around 5.00 pm. Met one of the
groups whom we had seen at Shendi. They were kind enough to share there
tea with us. Then after those refreshed moments, we left for
Harishchandragad. We were at the Harishchandra Temple before 7.00 pm.
Searched for some space to leave in. The 2 huts were also abandoned by
the 2 villagers which were their monsoon routine & they shifted
along with there cattles in the caves above. We went in the caves &
requested one of them for little space for 2 of us. With great comfort,
they accommodated us & ensured all catering services! We hurriedly
had good bath in the adjacent waterfall & massage too due to the
force of falling water! Now, after that 11 hours of growling walk &
climb, we were all set for a real treat with first ordering for the
traditional "poha" then strong ginger tea. We took a small nap &
again ordered for dinner. Had couple of glasses of butter milk &
went for a pleasant sleep. This cave was extremely cozy.
Got up next morning at 7.30 am. Had tea, breakfast, & packing a
full litre of butter milk along with us, off we left for Khireshwar at
8.30 am. Took a couple of snaps of the flowers & plateau on our way
towards the famous Tolar Khind. Just having left Khireshwar, we got a
jeep which reached us to the Khubi phata. Here immediately we got a ST
bus for Kalyan & enjoyed that last descend thru' Malshej ghat.
Quite a memorable trek!!
Written By: Kiran Sarode