A Trek to Alang-Madan 

I had been trekking for last seven years now but still stuffs like rock climbing were practically new for me. This entire remained dream till my good friend Amit informed me that Mr Sanjay Lokhre had planned a trek at Alanggad, Madangad. These forts were kept away from our list of future treks, as little knowledge of climbing was necessary along with the instruments.

So the trek was planned and it was decided to meet at Sanjay’s photo studio. At 12 am we all came together at the meeting point. We had our SUMO jeep with us for travelling. All the sacks were checked for necessary equipments and were packed on the top of the jeep. After packing Dilip prayed to god for our safety and we started our journey. As soon as the jeep turtled trough the road front lights were put on which slashed the foggy night.

As everyone came from its daily routine job everyone other that Dilip preferred to have an nap instead hullagulla. At 1.30 in the night we reached at Kasara ghat, we had a cup of tea at that place and started our journey again. Early morning at 5 we reach at that Khed , and assuming it to be Ambewadi which is our base village we decided to have some rest at that place. So after some time we discovered our mistake and again got back in our jeep and went in the search of Ambewadi village. At last traversing through the convoluted routes at 6 we reached Ambewadi village.

Having some refreshments in one of the house at Ambewadi we decided to start our trek towards Alanggad. By the time we started our actual climb it was 7.15 As the sun started rising, the light which was falling on these ranges made it look baroque The scenery from the base pumped us with animation and we found our selves minuscule in front of prodigiousness of our Mother Nature.

Now each one of us was moving towards the base of the valley, which was to be shinned up. Aiming at a “V” shaped valley near about 1200 meters above the sea level we started our climb. Along with climbing the excellent photographers like Shrikant (Bandya), Sanjay and Raghu carried on with their hobby of photography. These photographers exploited every chance they got. With a dry waterfall in the background and sunlight filtering through the trees at an angle, it was as if studio has been set up in the jungle by the gods just for us.

Climbing through the valley went on till we found out a group doing rappelling on 100-foot patch, which would take us to the top directly. Looking at thrill, which was enclosed in that act we decided to go for rappelling instead of traversing through a narrow path, which would have led to 5-hour strenuous trek. Vijay asked for the feasibility of the route to the group, which was descending through that route. As the OK signal came from the group we changed our directions towards the patch. After climbing the patch we decided to have our meal and then to march ahead. We reached the top of the mountain at 3.30 from where our destination was clearly visible. Behind this mountain there raised a deep valley giving its stretch of forest the look of an amphitheatre. The January sun had turned the grass semi brown and as it was late afternoon the birds and the animals were still in there shade. The brooding and silent forest was dictating its tales of very little contact with humans. Our destination was the cave, which could have been an Buddha vihar in ancient times

As the lead climber had to remove all the ropes attached he, Sanjay came last at the 5 in the cave where we have to reside till next morning. In the evening after having our tea we went in search of water, which we could use for cooking purposes. The candle light dinner was another heart-warming experience, which we had on the fort. Each of us taking care that whatever he has brought is being shared by each of us. This showed the co-operation, which we were able to indulge in us, even after being friends for just 20 hours. After the heavy glut it was surely the time to have fully deserved rest. So as decided earlier we got up at 6 in the morning and went to see the rest of the fort and the sunrise. Climbing the hillock above the caves we reach the place where a chain of water cisterns lied. Photography continued as the sun started rising with all its beauty. From here we defiled to the spot where the remnants of the ancient houses along with an artificial lake having two partitions in it. From the top most point, which was nearly 1450 meters above the scenery, was really very amazing. To the north of this fort the views of Kalsubai, Avandh, Patta , Bitangad, Harihar , Trimbak invited us to trek them. To the west lied the forts of Madangad, Kulanggad along with Ratan , Ajoba and Harischandragad in the south. Ghatghar dam which in the southwest direction was not visible because of the heavy morning fog.

After seeing the entire fort it was time to return to the cave and have our “NASHTA” which Raghu had prepared. After having the delicious “UPMA” and steaming glassful of tea we started to march towards the Madangad. After descending through the rock patch we reached to point from where the going was fairly level. Even if the going was fairly level one had to keep his eyes open for any danger that may have been hiding in our next step. Reason for the danger was the large exposure on the right hand side along with the loose scree over it. Traversing this path and after climbing some steps we reached a point where the need of technical climbing aroused again. Once again the lead climbers started preparations while we discussed various climbing issues with Dilip. We climbed the patch and then proceeded towards the destiny by ascending on a convoluted route. Then we reached the point, which gave us wonderful view of Alanggad and also the valley that connected these patronizing loci. From this place z-shaped steps are to be climbed. These steps are also visible from the cave at Alang. After climbing these steps we come across a cistern, which we used for our water supply for the period we stayed on the fort. We were to put up at a beautiful cave, which was situated some 40 to 50 feet above the cistern. We went to the cave and laid our rug sacks inside it. As juniors like me and $$$ climbed the patch first we came to the cave followed by Raghu. Within next one hour each one of us accumulated at the cave. After having a glance of all the scenery around the cave it was time to climb to the topmost point of the fort. Leaving our sacks behind we marched ahead with cameras for getting the glimpse of the sun diving behind the array of mountains behind Kulung fort. Three of us were lazing in the diving sun till the call from Sanjay came for descending down to the base of the hole. This descend trough the hole was a splendid experience and Me, Amit and Jogdev sir were only the lucky ones who got such chance in their very first climbing portrayal. As it was dark by the times all of us descended down the returning journey from base of the hole to the cave proved to be little risky. While returning towards the cave Vijay decided to go first. As he walked on the narrow sledge below, which there was a 3500 feet fall, the rope to, which he was anchored, got stuck and he found difficulty in moving ahead. He called for Sanjay’s help as only Sanjay was in position that could have released to rope. But with wind blowing very excitingly it was difficult for Vijay’s voice to reach to Sanjay. As no one was coming up Sanjay also gave us a call, and unaware of the problem being faced by Vijay he kept calling us, which later made problems with his voice. At the same time from opposite side came the helping hand of Joshi who helped Vijay and all of us to traverse the sledge safely. After reaching the cave safely Vijay took a breather

At 8 after once again having our candle light dinner, we decided to talk about the experiences of each other. At this time I was sitting outside the cave and enjoying the experimentation of my new knowledge about the stars and their position. After that it was the time for having a good sleep, although this day of trek to Madan was not as tiring as on Alanggad.

Next day early morning, Jogdev sir who had woken up before us called out to us to take a look. Everything was still as if the world had not yet woken up from its nightly sleep. There was heavy mist all around, making the face and hands clammy. Not a bird called. Even the wind seemed to have been stilled by the unworldliness of it . It was not until another half an hour or so that the mist lifted and the birds began to call out tentatively to one another. Another wonderful scene now spread before our eyes—great piles of cloud had drifted down the escarpment and lay at our feet, obscuring the view of gorge below. As far as eyes could see, great ridges of hills lay all around us, stretching to the horizon, their forest-carpeted peaks emerging from the swaddling clouds in a grand primeval spectacle. As we had to leave for the Ambewadi we did nothing more that morning other than to savour that scene and try to capture it on film. After having our tea we left for Ambewadi and reached the village by 11.30 am

After getting refreshed at the base village we piled into our SUMO and started our journey towards our adobe. On the ending note I would say that once again we were forced to realize that “It is only when we leave some of our city bred ideas and wants behind and create space for something new and fresh that we are able to savour to an extent this beautiful gift of nature”

Harshal Ravindra Mahajan.