Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sandhan Valley – Ratangad – Kaladgad – Harishchandragad trek

This was a long weekend… and I just wanted to be out for a long trek. So I planned for this cross country trek.

After I had done Ratangad, ones in the rains and Harishchandragad many times via a few of its many routes, and heard a lot of things about the cross country trek between these two (from Prasad), I was very eager to do this trek.

Accordingly, the plannings were done, and the publicity was done on Orkut hardly 3-4 days before the plan execution. I expected 10 ppl including the coordinators for this trek… and received 12 names for the plan… whereas only 9 turned up at the last moment.

It was me, Prasad(Pashi), Vikram(Langdya) and Priti, Saurabh Thakrey, Parag, Amit, Pragat, and Saurabh Vishwas… all starting on 23rdmorning from my place at Thane.

Day 1, 23rd Jan ’09:

We met in the very first Kasara local.

Prasad had other plans too… he wanted to explore the other route till Samrad valley as well.

So he got down at Asangaon with Vikram, and heeded towards Dolkhamb to extend his trek from Dehne to Samrad via Karoli ghat.

Meanwhile the other 6 carried forward their journey till Kasara (by local), then Shendi (by ST bus) and finally till Samrad village (by private jeep). We reached here by 10 am and rested till 12. Further we descended the Sandhan valley till its mid and climbed back to Samrad village for our stay.

This was my first visit to Samrad valley. I had heard many things about this valley from Priti. But whatever I had heard about its beauty was too less. I liked the valley more than any other trekking spot that I had ever visited. The valley is a beauty. And one needs to cross a patch through the chilling water, around 4-5 ft deep to explore the valley. No escaping the waters over here.

We visited the valley, explored it, had our lunch in the valley itself, and climbed back the valley.

Meanwhile Prasad and Vikram completed their trek through Karoli ghat and reached Samrad village by 3. Vikram was a bit disappointed to see only 4 feet water and that too only in 6 feet wide area. He had plans to swim, but couldn’t.

Later, we stayed in a school at Samrad village and had our dinner at Yashwant’s place. Had campfire, star gazing and songs and fun till 11.30 pm, our bed time.

Day 2, 24th Jan ’09:

This was the day when we made blunders. The actual plans were to climb Ratangad, explore it, get down by the other route, cross the Katrabai jungles, and reach Kumshet village. This was very hectic to execute, and therefore we had to start early. We started our day with the morning tea at 6.30 am, and then started for Ratangad. The route was unknown and still we decided to trek without a guide. This was the greatest mistake that we did on the day; rather the greatest one in the whole trek. We lost the way in the very beginning and instead of taking the way to Ratangad; we headed towards the BAAN pinnacle. We found that we were on a wrong track and so decided to climb the col between the Khutta pinnacle and Ratangad. This col later on got divided into two. Here we had to split our team- me and Vikram in the right, while Prasad and Priti went towards the left to find out the way. Meantime, the group rested at the tree shade. After searching the way for three long hrs, we decided to get back to the group and again descend a bit till the water source, where we can have our lunch which we had carried from Samrad village.

We had our lunch and were about to start our journey back to Samrad and start to Ratangad with a guide. As we were starting for the same, there came a lady from the village and directed us to the correct road. We laughed at ourselves, as the correct route was the one from where we had descended till here.

We gave ourselves one more start to the same route and ascended to Ratangad in next three hrs. We met a group from Sinnar who stared at us with their mouths wide open to see us climb through such a difficult route. We were on the top by 4pm. We entered the fort via the Trimbak Darwaja. Here onwards we explored the fort for 2 more hrs, and started preparation of our dinner. We had our dinner by 9pm and again decided to descend the Ratangad through the chimney and Shidi vaat and started for the junction where the road gets divided, one towards Ratanwadi and the other till Harishchandragad. We carried on in the Katrabai jungles till 12.15 am and decided to halt in the jungle itself. This jungle is a great habitat for leopards and other wild animals. So we had two campfires, one at each side, and decided to stay awake turn by turn… I heard many sounds of wild boars while I was awake in my allotted time of two hrs (0200-0400).

Day 3, 25th Jan ‘09

Today we had to reach Pethe-chi- Wadi and visit Kaladgad. We started at 7.30 am and moved towards the Katrabai pass. I had heard many things about this jungle from experienced trekkers. “This is very difficult route, very confusing, etc., etc…” But found it very easy and well marked. However it had some patches where one can get lost. But not many. We walked for an hr or so and then halted for tea at a place where we can get water, enough for drinking, preparation of tea and washing utensils. We were having tea when we heard a call from two trekkers who had lost their way in the Katrabai jungle. Helped them to the right way and started with our trek further.

We crossed the Katrabai patch by 12 and descended the pass by 1 pm. Here we met a villager “Patil mama”, where we had hurda, while Prasad had a short nap and missed the fun. We started from here and reached the Kumshet village in next one hour. Here we tasted some honey from the villagers. Myself and Priti bought one bottle each. And then we started our journey further to Pethe-chi-Wadi.

While walking till Pethe-chi –Wadi, we came across the Mula River, and wasted 2-3 hrs in swimming and playing in the water. This was the most enjoyable time for me in the whole trek. We started from here and reached Pethe-chi-Wadi by 5.30 pm. It was late to start for Kaladgad. But still we started from the Wadi and visited the fort… we reached the top right for the sunset scene. This fort provides an awesome view of the surrounding area. The sunset from here was one of the best ones that I had ever seen. We descended back to the Wadi by 7 pm. Decided to stay in a mandir for the night. The menu was Maggie and Pohe. And again the campfire was the way to fun and songs. And went to sleep by 11.

Day 4, 26th Jan ’09:

This was the worst day of my life.

We had enquired about the first bus from Pethe-chi-Wadi to Pachnai a day before and came to know that there is a bus which starts at 6.00 am. We got up at 5.15 to get a hold on the same. But the driver amazed us by saying that the bus would be off by 5.30 as it is Republic day and therefore the day starts half an hour earlier. We were therefore forced to pack our bags in 15 mins and rush towards the bus. This made me and the other coordinators sleep in the bus. I had asked the conductor to let us know when we reach Pachnai.

The conductor forgot to do so and we realised this after we had crossed 12 kms after Pachnai, in some other village named ‘Lavhale’. We then got down at Lavhale and enquired about the route till Pachnai or towards Harishchandragad. Here we came to know about this new route till the top of Harishchandragad. This route is called as ‘Tata’ chi vaat (way from the border). I had never even heard about this route from Lavhale village and so we decided not to go back to Pachnai and discover this new route. We had our tea in the Lavhale village, attended the republic day function and the flag hoisting event, and then started for Harishchandragad.

The reason I said this was the worst day in my trekking life lies further… I had severe back pain from a month before this trek, and was asked to rest and no treks for 2 month. And still I was on a trek; and that too for a 4-day long cross-country trek, with a bag weighing around 18-20 kg. I was a bit exhausted and also was in no mood to climb Harishchandragad, as I was aware of what would be the conditions on the fort after a long weekend. So I, with Priti and Saurabh decided to trek till Tolar Khind and further till Khireshwar to arrange for food. Whereas Prasad and Vikram led the group till the top of the fort, and then till Kokan Kada and back to Khireshwar.

We waited at Aishwarya hotel at Khireshwar and also arranged for our lunch over there. The time I spent at the hotel till the remaining group joined us, I came across a few people who climbed down from Harishchandragad. Being an MBA student for marketing, I was taught to keenly observe your customers before dealing with them. And I keep on practising this every now and then. I observed these people and was listening to their conversation… and I found many of them had been to the fort just for the sake of enjoyment. Some didn’t reach the top and had quit the trek. Some went till the caves, some were unaware of Taramati, and I was amazed when I met a group who was unaware about Kokan Kada, and even more when I found a person hadn’t been to Ganesh Guha. The nearby villages were renamed by these people as Panchai and Rujar, and so on. A group saw the map of the fort at the hotel and discovered that the Nali chi Vaat route starts right next to the Ganesh Guha. I felt bad to hear these experiences but then wasn’t in a mood to tell them the originality, as they were in tonnes, and rather they weren’t trekkers but picnickers, who were there for enjoyment and not for knowing the fort.

At 3.15pm Prasad and the team came back. They told us about what they had experienced on the fort. According to the info from Tukaram and Badrinath (these are the people who stay on the fort during the weekends); the fort was visited by more than 1000 people this weekend, and only nali chi vaat had seen 113 people on sat itself. There was garbage lying all over on the fort, mainly plastic, papers and empty liquor bottles. I felt very bad to hear all this but then was happy that I didn’t go and experience the fort in this condition.

We had lunch at the hotel and then started our journey back to home. The half an hour journey on the top of the jeep from Khireshwar to Khubi Phata was like a strawberry on the cake (as I like strawberries more than cherries.).

The jeep went to Mhad (not the Ganesh mandir wala Mhad). This is hardly 7-8 kms from Khubi Phata towards Junnar. And then we realised that Amit has left his back in the jeep itself. After thinking what to do now, we decided to move on without the back. We started walking towards Kalyan side till the hotel where the buses normally halt. We walked for 15-20 min, and saw the jeep returning to Khireshwar. A few choruses from us were all that was needed to stop the jeep. Amit and Prasad ran till the jeep and collected the bag.

We now were waiting at the hotel for last 30 minutes. But no bus or truck till Kalyan halted for us. At last a truck came and we were very delighted to know that it is going till Ulhasnagar.

We got into the truck and were our journey towards home. This was more spacious and comfortable journey than by any bus. Again the songs and trekking experiences accompanied us till Ulhasnagar. We took 9.05pm local to CST and I was at home by 10.15 pm Sunday…

Monday se again the boring routine.


Nilesh Patil said...

Hey friends, i was just searching for Sandhan valley details on google and came across this write up of mine... i myself was amazed to see this... a blog written around almost 3 yrs back...but it refreshed many things in my mind.. so thought of sharing this with you all.

Thanks and Regards

vagabond said...

Accha hai... Raw fun, and there is no beat to this!!

vagabond said...

vagabond mannae Manish Loke - mind it !!!

mohit 21 said...

@nilesh patil - dat was a hell lot fun and thrill one would lyk to experience once in a lyf tym atleast...looking forward to get thrilled !!!
- mohit padwal

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