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Friday, 30 December 2011

Alang Madan Kulang - Trekkers' Paradise

Madangad
Alanggad
Kulanggad











Location
The fort trio of Alang-Madan-Kulang is situated in Kalasubai range. This area is rich with few of the highest mountain peaks in Sahyadri. Nearby peaks recognized are Kalsubai (higest peak in Maharashtra) & Ratangad. Other nearby landmarks are Bhandardara backwaters and Igatpuri.




View Alang-Madan-Kulang Trek in a larger map

About Forts / Trek
The trek to Alang-Madan-Kulang is considered to be one of the toughest treks in Maharashtra. It tests your stamina, patience and mental toughness. Kids this is not your place to play your games. Overall trek includes rock climbing, rappelling, high steeps, long walks. To support all these you have very less amount of guidance available in any (printed, Internet) written material, and confusing ways to go. As a result this trek stays as just a dream for many trekkers or many even don’t know about it.
Due to their remote and difficult location the Forts have remained neglected by Gov. of India. According to what I heard, it seems there was no professional group arranging this trek until last decade. Some very passionate and experienced trekkers used to come here that time. Recently some groups from Pune and Mumbai have started planning this trek regularly.
Also to mention very less amount of historical information is available about these forts.

How to go?
Path 1: Igatpuri/Kasara
This path is preferred by trek groups from Mumbai. One can come to Igatpuri/Kasara then to Ambevadi via Igatpuri/Kasara-Ghoti-Pimpalnermor route. Bus facility from Ghoti to Ambevadi is also available. From Ambevadi, through the ridge between Alang & Madan one can start the trek.

Path 2: Ghatghar/Udadvade
This path is preferred by Trek groups from Pune. Go to Ghatghar/Udadvade via Goti-Bhandardara. It is a small walk upto base of Alang from both villages.

Difficulty: Very Tough

Best Time to visit
Rock climbing is best done during winter and early summers. DO NOT go there in summer or rain (if you are not planning a suicide).

Places to Watch
Beautiful scenery around, raw beauty of Sahyadris, view of backwaters of Bhandardara and many more natural sites from all three forts. It is a paradise for a photographer. But most important of all, please watch your steps. Keep them in right places.

Our story
I was in a bit of confused state initially to go for the trek. According to what I heard this was really a difficult trek. Besides I had no prior experience with Rock Climbing or Rappelling.
So obviously going there with professional trekkers was safest option for me. I came to know that the Explorers group was arranging one on 16th to 18th Dec '11. I asked a few trek-friends for company, but they were either too afraid or had some work.
Yes or No, Yes or No ...?!!
Nobody I knew was coming but, it was a great opportunity to know new people and I took the call as 'Yes'.

Day 1
We left Pune at midnight of 15th December from SP College and reached Bhandardara MTDC at about 5 o'clock in morning. We were a group of 20 people including 3 guides. After having heavy breakfast we traveled to Udadavade village. It was just the time after daybreak when we reached base.
Water tanks on Alang
We did some stretching, rounded our backpacks, tightened our shoes and stood ready for the mission. We were accompanied by 2 local folks who knew the path very well. The mission started at about 7.30 o'clock in morning.
Initial path to Alang was pretty easy - mixture of steeps and planes. We were warming up through this part. At about 9 o'clock we reached to the first plateau. After this was a plain walk of about 1 to 1.5 hr. While we were covering this path a funny / horrifying thing happened. While we were passing by a herd of about 10 Buffaloes, one of the group members made some weird noise to tease them. One of the Buffaloes wasn't big fan of that noise. And guess what??!!, next thing we knew was we were jumping out of the way as that Buffalo charged to hit her target. Fortunately we all were successful with dodge and nobody got hurt. God bless the Buffalo who went into those thorny bushes.
Alang Rock patch
After the plain walk there came the first rock patch of about 15 feet. We did enough to get past it. Then was a walk on edge of valley up-to the actual fort where all of us arrived at about 2.30 o clock. Then we had our packed lunch.
In evening we were going to cook the dinner. Some collected firewood, some water, while some helped with cooking. In evening we went to see around the place. The fort has good collection of drinking water in form of 11 water tanks on the top. Some ruins of historical buildings are still here in form of 'Sardar Kothi'.  After looking the sunset we came back to the cave where we were going to stay. As expected members not involving the actual cooking process were just hanging outside the cave, looking at stars, sharing their previous trek experiences, joking around (I was part of this group). At about 8 in evening dinner was ready. After dinner we played Antakshari and some other games before we packed ourselves to the bed at about 10.30.

Day 2
Alang Rappelling
This was a hectic day. First day we walked for about 7 hours. Second day we woke up early and gathered near the Shiva-Temple at about 5.30. After headcount and photo-sessions we left Alang. Beginning of the day was a 50 ft rappelling in chilly air. It was a nice experience.

Then we had our breakfast and headed towards Madangad. This path was highly dangerous. First part was a kilometer of valley edge then tall steps and then the best adventure of the trek – The 25 ft Rock climbing patch. This place was breathtaking. Below was a depth of 3000 ft and above stood a vertical rock of 25 ft. I was standing on small patch of less than1 ft. Although with all the safety instruments attached the heights just take all the air out of your lungs. You have to sum up your courage and set the foot up on the rock. It was great moment when I climbed up. Those 5 mins felt like an hour with only one thought in mind, 'How much more?'
After the patch we continued the climb to madan. Actual area of fort top is very small – a water tank, a room where 25 people might stay and some remains of fortifications. Still the view from here was awesome. You can see from here the fort trio, kalasubai, ratangad, harischndragad and along with all a huge area of land all around you.
After about an hour we climbed down Madan, stopped a while for lunch and then moved ahead for the last one at about 2.30 pm.
Madan Rock Patch
The path between Madan and Kulang is covered with dense bushes and forest trees. It is a long way to go. You have to come down to the plateau and then climb all the way up. It is very steep walk up while climbing Kulang, highly exhausting. It took 5 long hours to cover this path with very negligible amount of party breaks. The last part of climb to Kulang – where we have to go up with steps carved into the stone – we went up with torch in our hand. Finally we reached to the top at 7.30 in evening. Considering Lunch and Snacks break, the day was almost 11 hours of walk.
Then we executed same schedule of cooking dinner and eating. The day was exhausting and everybody fall asleep after that.

Day 3
Plan declared was to wake up late and move back after lunch. Some people chose to sleep up-to 8.30 and some woke up early at 6 o'clock. I woke up in between the two cases – about 6.30 it was. It was a beautiful scene that time. We started looking around the fort and take some snaps.
The fort has many water tanks but only one seemed to be clean enough to drink. There is an old dam like structure, but it is broken. View of Kalasubai-Alang-Madan at the time of early sun was amazing. After a lazy walks around half of fort we came back at the camp at about 10 o'clock. We then packed our bed and backpacks and then went to see remaining half of the fort.
This side of fort is having some residential structures. In same area we saw a gang of monkeys, maybe 20 of them. They just ran away as they saw us. On this end of fort there is pretty narrow cliff. When you stand at the end you feel like you are on top of the world, the feeling is just intoxicating.
We then came back by 11.30. The people who woke up late were still busy cleaning themselves and packing up for return.
Alang (Right), Madan (Middle), Kulang (Left)
We had our lunch, clicked some final group photos and started the return journey. It took about half an hour to come to the base of Kulang. We waited there for a while and started the return towards the Bus at 3.00. We divided ourselves into two groups. First still healthy - able to move at good speed and other slower due to some injuries. I was in the first group, and we almost ran towards bus. Path was really confusing but all followed the leader correctly. We completed the half circle around Kulang and waited near the river. Had some time for relaxation, photography once again and then continued the run covering back Madan and Alang on ground. We reached the bus at about 5.45 in evening.
Exhaustive, Enchanting and Enlightening – that’s how we can describe the last 3 days.
We changed into clean clothes, freshened up and rested till the second group arrived. We started our return journey at about 8 o'clock in evening. On way back we had dinner in Sangamner, danced Ganpati-style in bus and finally reached back to Pune at midnight.
Then it was – Good night, sleep tight.

7 comments:

  1. Awesome :)
    I always wanted to be at AMK
    I think I should bookmark Explorers site.
    Are they planning second batch or something?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not that I have heard of. They have already arranged 3 batches of the trek this year. I will contact you if I come to know about the next batch.

    ReplyDelete
  3. ok thanks :)
    Are you interested in Himalaya trekking???

    ReplyDelete
  4. Because the Himalayas, home of the snow, is the most impressive system of mountains on the earth, and for centuries the setting for epic feats of exploration.

    Treks in Himalayas in india

    ReplyDelete
  5. I enjoyed this post a lot. Thanks very much for sharing information about different trekking places in Maharashtra. There are places to visit in Igatpuri & enjoy the trek.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Enjoyed reading your blog, thank you for detailed explanation and photos.
    I am planning AMK for years, hoping to do it this year.

    ReplyDelete