One of the most picturesque treks in Maharashtra is Trek to Ratangad. With backwaters of Bhandardara and the surrounding forts of Alang, Madan, Kulang, Harishchandragad, Kalsubai, Vishramgad, Ajoba Parvat increases the natural beauty by leaps and bounds. It is an ideal destination for One-day Treks near Mumbai and Pune because of its fairly easy Jungle Trail.
Ratangad Fort Trek
The trek begins from Ratanwadi, the base village of Ratangad is home to the most beautiful and ancient stone carving temple of Amruteshwar. It is believed that the temple was built around 8th century during the period of Hemadpant. One can begin the trek to Ratangad after seeking the blessings from this temple.
After crossing a few paddy fields, one crosses the water stream and the trail to the first plateau begins. One will get astounded by the beauty of the trail. Gentle Breeze, a canopy of trees and colourful flowers makes us believe that the carpet of such a phenomenon is laid down for us.
It will take around 1 hour to reach the plateau. Form the plateau you will now gain height subsequently which will be a challenge for your legs but treat for your eyes. There are ladders at some points making it easier for the trekkers to reach the fort. Before reaching the ladders, you will come across a junction where the other route goes straight to Harishchandra Fort. At many points, you will find colourful ribbons and painted arrows signifying the direction of Ratangad fort.
You will enter the fort through Ganesh Darwaza which has remnants of the fortification. There are also 2 caves on the eastern side. One cave is sufficient enough to accommodate around 20 to 30 people at a time. Many trekking groups also camp at night in this very cave. One has to cross the entire fort to reach Trimbak Darwaza which used to be the main entrance during the bygone era. One can enter from Trimbak Darwaza if one decides to climb from Ghatghar or Samrad.
On heading to the peak of the fort that is Eye of the Needle, one can view Kalsubai Peak, Alang, Madan, Kulang, Vishramgad aka Patta Fort from the top. With clouds touching the peaks during the monsoon, the stars appearing to be the closest at night and the sunrise which illuminates the beauty of the range, this would be the reason perhaps why this fort is called as the Jewel Fort or Ratangad.
Highlights of Ratangad
Eye of Needle
4 Doors – Ganesh, Hanuman, Konkan & Trimbak
Numerous Water Cisterns/ Tanks
How to Reach
Mumbai – 180 km, Pune 170 km
Nearest accessible location is Ghoti near Igatpuri. One can reach Ghoti by State Transport buses from Mumbai and Pune. Taxis and occasional State Buses provide the service till Ratanwadi from Igatpuri and Ghoti. If you cannot reach till Ratanwadi, come till Shendi village and from there you have to ask for a lift. Because if you miss the bus or taxi it is quite difficult to reach the location.
Best Time to Visit
Early Monsoon and Late Monsoon will be an ideal season as you can view the nearby surroundings as well. During the prime season of Monsoon, it will be misty throughout day and night.
Yes, one can enjoy the session of camping at the caves of Ratangad which accommodates around 20 – 30 people comfortably. In fact, Ratangad is one of the best destinations for night camping near Mumbai and Pune.