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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

What is the Best Time to do Ratangad Fort Trek?

Ratangad Fort Trek

What is the Best Time to do Ratangad Fort Trek?

Ratangad Fort Trek, Ratan means Jewel among other forts in Sahyadri. Ratangad is a fortress in the Bhandardara range of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the adventurous places for trek lovers. The stretch of Ratangad fort offers a beautiful landscape view of Bhandardara Lake on one side and the dense forest of the Konkan region on another side. The height of Ratangad Fort is 4200 feet. There are two routes to reach Ratangad Fort. One starts from Samrad village near Ghatghar and another starts from Ratanwadi village. It is located in the Akole district of Nashik, Maharashtra. I will tell you the best time to do a Ratangad fort trek.

How to reach Ratangad Fort?

Ratanwadi and Samrad villages are the two base villages to reach Ratangad Fort. Both these villages are located in the Bhandardara region. Bhandardara can further reach by Air, Train, and Road.

By Air

Mumbai International airport and Nashik domestic airport are the nearest airports to reach Bhandardara. The destination is a further 200 km from Mumbai airport and 95km from Nashik airport. Once you get down at the airport look for local transportation or a direct cab to reach your point.

By Train

Igatpuri or Kasara is the nearest railhead to reach Ratangad Fort. There are some mail expresses which halt at Igatpuri. From Igatpuri the distance to the destination is 56km. There are local ST and shared taxis available to reach Shendi village in Bhandardara. From here local jeep will take you to Ratanwadi village or Samrad village on sharing basis. Samrad village is 5 km ahead of Ratanwadi village.

By Road

Bhandardara is easily accessible from any city in Maharashtra, from Mumbai you can easily reach here following the Mumbai-Nashik highway. Once you reach Ghoti take a right turn, drive 28 km and then again take right at Pimpalgaon towards Bhandardara. If you are driving from any other city then you need to follow the map route to Ghoti-Pimpalgaon and then to Bhandardara.

The easiest mode of transportation is to take your own vehicle and reach your destination. Traveling via local transportation is time-consuming and if you hire a private cab then it will cut your pocket. Two-wheelers and four-wheelers are easily accessible on Bhandardara road.

My Experince of Ratangad Fort Trek

It all started with a dream of Ratangad Fort Trek in Bhandardhara. For the Ratangad trek my wife was more excited and you know why? because her name is Ratan. As usual, I along with my wife decided to reach Bhandardhara a day before Ratangad fort trekking. Everything happened as per the plan; we left Mumbai around 12 noon and reached Bhandardhara by 4:30pm. After having some snacks we moved further to Ratanwadi village. The rough and narrow road was the major challenge for me so, rather than spending time at Bhandardara Lake we headed to Ratanwadi village which was the base village of the Ratangad Fort. By the time it was 6pm, we reached Ratanwadi village and went to Amruteshwar temple in the same village. I would suggest you guys must visit Amruteshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This divine temple is from the 12th century and the carving in the stone is a major attraction here. After exploring the temple we came across one place where we decided to put our tent for camping. Although it was not lake-facing, we enjoyed that camping with a bonfire. The wind-chill climate of Bhandardhara pulled the major tourist here and I was one of them. We pitch our tent next to the Amruteshwar temple, kept our bags inside the tent, and went to have a walk around Village. Few stalls provide you homemade delicious food. We had our dinner and pushed ourselves into the tent. It was so cold that night and the temperature was ranging between 16-18 degrees. The next day was going to be so exciting.

Ratangad Fort Trek
Amruteshwar temple has a small shivling inside which is underwater and it is built on the lake

Ratangad Fort Trek
We stayed right in front of the Amruteshwar temple

We got up at 7am in the morning and got fresh up at one of the local's places next to the temple. After finishing our heavy breakfast we started moving toward the destination. By the time we started to trek toward Ratanagad fort, the time was 9am. Firstly I thought I would join some of the group so there will not be any tension of route finding and all but, most of the people left early in the morning. Ratanwadi village is the base village for Ratanagad Fort. Few locals from there helped to follow the initial route of the trek. The initial route was quite ascending with some river streams to cross. Of course, now water is not there but, in monsoon, you will keep crossing the river filled with water. After 10min of ascending, there were two diversions and the route was not much visible. We took the right one which was so much steep and was passing through the valley of a waterfall. We were under the assumption that we are on the right track since someone marked the tree with a blue bag as a direction. We climbed for around 20min and came across one point where the route was not at all visible nor was the marking. It was a dense forest and we only two of us. After struggling for another 20min we decide to move back to the diversion route and took another extreme left which was flat walking towards the fort. We met a few trekkers coming back from the same route and got sure about the trekking route. Seriously we suffered a lot in the last 1hour and ended up wasting some of our energy and time too.

Ratangad Fort Trek
The initial route starts right behind the Ratanwadi village

When you walk on a flat plateau the fort is visible from here. As we kept walking towards the fort we came across some locals selling Nimbu Pani (Lime water and Lemon chocolate). After talking with them we realized this is only the right trail and they told now onwards you will not come across any diversion because this is the straight route going through the forest area and the trail is clearly visible. After trekking further for one hour we saw a big marking board of Ratangad trekking towards the right. Left from here goes to Harishchandragad. This is the route that was mostly used by Shivaji Maharaj and his warrior. It takes one day from this route to reach Harishchandragad Fort. The left route is quite ascending with some steep stairs, you just need a good endurance level to climb here.  Trekking in the wintertime is something you will never feel tired of, it's just because of the surrounding temperature and cold forest area.

Ratangad Fort Trek
Marking of Ratangad fort trek and route passes through the forest

Ratangad Fort Trek
From this route straight route goes to Harishchandragad and the right goes to Ratangad fort

I could clearly see the flag of Ratangad fort. After walking for another hour we reached a point on the Iron ladder. Earlier there were only rock-cut stairs to climb but, recently forest department has installed an Iron ladder to climb for safety purposes. This Iron ladder is not as shaky as it was in Kalsubai. You will have to be extra careful while walking on this ladder. Avoid taking selfies while walking here. One person at a time is the thumb rule to climb the ladder. There are three ladders to cross, after crossing the ladder we came across the Ganesh Darvaza (Ganesh Gate). We also came across the Ratnu Mata temple next to Ganesh Darvaza. The trek doesn't end here. As we started moving forward we came across the caves, Kalyan Darvaza (Kalyan gate), and Trambak Darvaza (Trambak gate), and managed to reach the top of the Ratangad Fort.

Ratangad Fort Trek
When you climb the Iron ladder you reach the Ganesh Darvaza of the fort

Ratangad Fort Trek
You can see Trambak Darvaza and Kalsubai mountain standing in the background

Ratangad Fort Trek
A small temple of Ratnu aai once you cross the Ganesh Darvaza

The summit was yet to come. The last 10 min steep ascending took us closer to the Swarajya flag of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. I don't know why but, whenever I conquer any of the forts and reach the summit it gives me an emotional feeling. It is just you start thinking of the Maratha warrior how they would have fought the battle, and how they would have left on the Fort, these are some questions that strike your mind once you put yourself into that mode. The summit view of the fort gives you breathe taking view of the surrounding Sahyadri Mountains. It also offers an astonishing view of Kalsubai mountain, AMK mountain, and that gorgeous view of Arthur Lake of Bhandardhara. This year there was a huge bunch of Carvi flowers which come every 7 years on the particular mountain but that too next month of monsoon gets over. This is the reason this year Ratangad got a major attraction for tourists. We were so unlucky that we couldn't see those purple flowers named Carvi flowers. The level of the Ratangad Fort trek is moderate to difficult so prepare you accordingly. 

Ratangad Fort Trek
Summit view of the Ratangad fort trek

Best Time to do Ratangad Fort Trek

Ratangad fort trek is easily accessible throughout the years. The ideal time to do the Ratangad trek is monsoon and winter time. Most of the trekkers flock in monsoon season. Although the routes become slippery climate surrounding the Ratangad fort trek is covered amidst the dense fog. Many flora and fauna can be seen in rainy times. Bhandardara is one of those places which gets very heavy rain in monsoon. The only disadvantage of the monsoon trek is you cannot camp.

The best time to trek is post-monsoon from October to February month. The climate is pleasant and cold. This time is considered the best time to do the trek.

Places to Stay around the Ratangad Fort

Ratanwadi is a local village so you don’t expect hotels or resorts to stay. You can request any locals to arrange to stay in their homes. If you want to stay in a hotel or resort then you must travel to Bhandardara which is 22 km from Ratanwadi village. There are numerous resorts available including MTDC which is budget-friendly.

Many trekkers also stay at the caves on the top of the fort, it is completely safe. You need to be cautious of Monkey.

Bhandardara is one of those places which is more into lakeside camping. You can find many private tour operators who arrange lakeside camping including food. If you want to experience the adventure stay with a bonfire and camping then you must go with some of the tour operators. If you have your own camping gear then you can put up your tent anywhere around Ratanwadi village. Putting your own tent around the lake is restricted by locals. You can contact to below person for the arrangement of camping and food.

Mr. Sanju (7276622314/9423749953)


Food Availability around Ratangad Fort Trek

You will not find any hotels en route to Ratangad fort. A few huts sell Lime water and Cucumber to give you energy. You must carry extra water bottles while trekking. Do carry some energy bars and dry fruits along with you.

While you are at Ratanwadi village you must explore Maharashtra cuisines. Some locals arrange local homemade food for trekkers. Shev-Bhaji and Pitla Bhakri are among the tasty dish to try. Hot Vada Pav and Pakodas are the peculiarities of Maharashtra and you must try them in Bhandardara. 


Other Places to Trek around Ratangad Fort

Sandhan Valley

A beautiful carved valley situated in the range of Sahyadri Mountains of the western ghat is ‘Sandhan valley’. It is also known as the valley of the shadow. The distance from Ratangad is 5 km and the name of the base village is Samrad.

Read more about Sandhan Valley

Kalsubai Mountain

Kalsubai is one of those names that appear in the list of the highest mountains from Maharashtra state of the Indian region. A Mountain positioned in the Sahyadri range of western ghats in Maharashtra, situated at the height of 5400 feet from Sea level is Kalsubai. The distance from Ratangad is 26km

Read more about Kalsubai Trek

AMK Trek

Alang, Madan, and Kulang, which is also known as AMK trek, is situated in the Sahyadri fortress of Maharashtra, India. It is not only a trek but it is the dream destination of every mountaineer. Rock climbing, Rappelling, and confusing routes are the peculiarity of this trek. The distance to AMK from Ratangad fort is 44km.

Read more about the AMK trek

Things to Know Before You Go to Ratangad Fort Trek

  • The road from Bhandardara to Ratanwadi village is very bad in condition so plan your drive accordingly.
  • There is one toll when you enter the Bhandardara range and the toll cost per person is 30 INR.
  • If you are planning to camp then select one of those places which are close to your local's home, this is just for safety purposes since it is a wildlife sanctuary.
  • Avoid driving at night on Bhandardara road.
  • It takes 3 to 4 hours to reach the summit of the fort so start early in the morning.
  • Parking facility is available on a pay-and-park basis next to Amruteshwar temple.
  • Do not litter the area around the fort.

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