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Route Mumbai - Kasara - Igatpuri - Bhandara - Ratanwadi
We hired a Mini bus from Dadar and we left @ 5.00 am two hours behind schedule our group consisted of 8 regular trekkers and 4 first time trekker. Lucky we got a good deal on the bus and the driver was a schumacher with a Ferrari cap and drove like one. All of us couldn't sleep he was driving at a good speed and performing some scary overtaking moves.
We stopped at Igatpuri for breakfast and then at Bhandara to buy more supplies and food if needed after Bhandara you wont get anything. Bhandara lake is an awesome sight water is crystal clear and we reached just in time to see the Dam gates getting opened it lasted for 15 minutes and it was a amazing sight. After 22 km of back breaking drive from Bhandara you reach Ratanvadi from here you can start your ascend.
You can hire a guide for Rs 200 who are friendly you can also buy home made lunch but you will have to wait at least 1 hour for delivery. We had a friend who had been to Ratangad more than once and knew the way to top so we didn't hire a guide. We started our trek @ around 12.00 pm it was a pretty hot day. No cloud cover, no rain, it was first week of September and we were behind our schedule.
We all were armed with camera's and i am sure not a single hill or valley was left to be photographed by our excited trekkers. The climb is pretty tiring it consist of mostly steep sections which burns your energy pretty quickly. We were taking regular 5 minutes break for water and some snacks. I was hoping to spot some snakes but i only saw some birds. Route is jagged and a guide is a must after some time you get a opening and you get a glimpse of Ratangad. After three of such openings it was still looking far away.
After 2 hours we reached a opening and there were 2 ladders ahead to climb to the top of Ratangad. Climbing ladder was not very difficult though don't use the handle bar for support they both are broken and shake rapidly.
It took us 2 hours 15 minutes to reach the summit. We took a break for lunch and went around exploring the fort.
There is plenty of water around the fort courtesy of 3 water tanks i have posted the map below you can check the location. There are 3 different routes to the top. You can stay overnight there is a cave which can accommodate
40 trekkers. Though temperatures fall very quickly in the night so carry proper equipment.
We walked for around 20 minutes clicking pictures of mountains and tower then we reached the needle hole which is a hole in the mountain the wind is very strong here. Then suddenly the clouds came and in no time we were surrounded by fog and mist we explored the 3rd entrance to Ratangad and decided to ahead down to Ratanvadi. The fog was a blessing in disguise it was easier to descend the shear cliff since you couldn't see the drop and it took is around 2 hours to reach Ratanvadi.
We meet a group of locals and firangi's who were going up to spend the night in the cave with a local guide. It was pretty dark we had started our descend around 5.30 pm it took us 2 hours to reach the village we got lost once. But walkin in the moonlight was fun.
I am posting some of the images below do check them....