Drive to Igatpuri and Trek to Kulang Fort


I was at work when I received message from Rahul asking for a Trek. I immediately replied asking for location and After few hours he called and said coming weekend 24-25 Oct 2015 to Kalsubai - Maharashtra's highest peak. With my half knowledge I told him that that there are 3 peaks on Kalsubai range, Adan, madan and Kulang where I have been once about 8 years ago and couldn’t complete it and returned after completing about 60-70% of the trek.

There was a personal grudge and I always wanted to conquer it so I told him we will go to Kulang only. I shared my misery of previous experience and started planning. Did some online research, shared some logs of other's trips.

So finalised that we will go for Kulang trek which would be approx 6-7 hours of trek as per my experience and logs. Plan was to start early morning from Mumbai, reach Ambewadi (base village) around 9-9:30 and start by 10 am. Stay overnight at the fort (cave) on top. Over the next couple of days, we made a list of things to carry and how things will work. Lot of discussion happened on who would buy what and carry what and we bought about 80% of things before the trek and kept about 20% stuff for last moment.








[My other trips - 1) Ladakh 2014 (Inc. Tso Moriri) 2) Nasik Kumbh Mela 2015 3) Kulang Fort Trek 4) Riding 750 Km in a Day: Mumbai - Gokarna 5) Bungee Jump & Rafting at Rishikesh 6) Ladakh 2.0 7) Weekend trip to Bhedaghat & Bandhavgarh ]
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As usual, I had to wake him up and I start about 15-20 mins late from my place. As I reached his place, he was not to be seen outside his place. I called him n number of times and he would not answer the call. I was getting irritated as this was regular for him to further delay things. After about 30 mins he comes out and says he had messaged me to not call him as he was Piku problem :)P)

So all in all, we start about an hour late from the schedule but within no time we reach Igatpuri and had breakfast. We turn right in Ghoti village and buy few things like an aluminium beaker (patila), garlic etc. and after asking direction to many people we finally reach the base at about 11AM.

A local guy, Eknath (if I remember it correct), a tempo owner said he will show us the way as we didn’t know where to go. He took us on the trial for about 15-20 mins and showed the direction to go.








We continued walking and within few minutes, the trail ended. The problem was we didn’t even know the direction or the destination ( I mean which peak we have to reach as there was mountain all around.

We try to make our own way following what Eknath had told us and soon enter a dense forest. It was so dense that we couldn’t even see beyond 5 meters, sunlight couldn’t reach the surface and it was damp floor. After cutting few plants/bushes and climbing steep slopes, getting stuck in thorny plants we ended up at a flat wall kind of rock. There was no way forward so tried going sideways and another steep valley down so another dead end. Now we had accepted that we are lost and started getting down.














After a while reached down a river stream which had very very little water. That reminds we, we were to buy water to carry with us but missed that the one litre bottle that we had was already over. We were already tired, thirsty and little demotivated. We decided that we will try for another one hour and if don’t find any trail then we return. While we filled the water from that tiny stream in our bottle, we heard some human voice and it was like a beacon. We also made noise and attracted the people.

One person walked very close to the river on the other side of the river and we decided to follow them. To our good luck, he came down and was a guide taking a group of people on top. I don’t think we could have asked for anything better. We started walking along with them and soon became friends with the group and the guide as well. The group had 4-5 men and a 10 year old kid (Swaraj). they were little slow so I and Rahul took the lead and started ahead following the trail. We kept on munching things that we had carried and on a couple of occasions, we came across a point where there were 2 ways so we stopped for the group and guide to come and show us the correct way.







Except for these 2 situation, we just had to follow the trail and easy to remember route but extremely difficult. The trek kept on getting difficult with steep climbing, loose stones and many more hurdles. With no further strength in the legs, we reached top and were relieved. I was literally shouting at achieving this feat. Looked around and on the left side, saw about 5-6 ponds with water where one pond had drinking water and others were not clean enough. We rush towards the pond, remove clothes and jumped in the pond and WHATTA RELIEF. Body was steaming hot with so much of strenuous workout so the water felt cold. After this amazing dip, quickly changed the clothes and started to look for some wood to burn for cooking.
















Then we suddenly see that the guide (Sonawane) and his partner (Suresh) came from some distance carrying a lot of dry wood. We thought it would be fair to some more wood and not use up their wood so we walk towards the cave and there was some thick wood lying so we collected that. The guide in the mean time came and said they will pitch the tent for the other group just outside the cave and they both would sleep on the rock above the cave. I and Rahul were to sleep inside the cave which was very very dirty and wet due to rain water.

Sonawane and Suresh were kind enough to clean the entire cave for us and burnt it all (paper/plastic etc). There is a special kitchen like section in the cave with a chimney and there were stones kept properly like a stove where trekkers who would have come before us would have cooked there. The group were still busy bathing so Rahul quickly started burning the wood and we made some Yippee Noodles. In the mean time, the group had come near the cave, Sonawane had already pitched the tent and the group had started cutting vegetables and stuff as they were to cook Khichdi and alloo ki sabji while they were carrying Rotis.

I, Rahul and Swaraj had noodles and then helped them in cooking their food. It was pretty late so we started preparing our dinner too which was a subway sandwich. So we were carrying a foot long bread which we cut in half, applied butter, added cheese, oregano flakes, garlic powder, chat masala, fried garlic, Onions, the aloo that we baked in the burning wood and kept the bread near the stove (the stone made) for it to bake.

After scrumptious dinner it was time to sleep but the base in the cave was damp so we spread lot of newspaper, one cotton sheet that Rahul was carrying and we shared the sheet that I was carrying. While it started getting cold, we didn’t have much choice. As soon as we dropped on the floor, Rahul was off to sleep and started snoring in my ear and the small cave was creating a surround sound effect at the same time the newspaper, sheet and clothes got wet due to damp floor.

After about a couple of hours of sleepless time, around 4:30am , I decided to go out and check if I can sleep somewhere out in peace but Rahul got up and asked what happened so I told him that I cannot sleep because of his snoring so he accuses me that I woke him up because of that. I wanted to hit with something but then I said no I am going out so he said no no sleep and he won’t snore. I said lemme so suddenly his snoring volume did reduce but it had become very cold and due to clothes and sheet being wet I still couldn’t sleep.

After another couple of hours of sleepless time, I heard some human voice and realised that Sonawane was awake and had lit the bonfire again so went out and sat at the bonfire taking some warmth. Time passed and eventually it was about 7:30 am and the group had also woken up and we all finished morning chores. I was hungry so cooked the noodles again and then woke Rahul up. We had noodles and Rahul wanted tea so prepared it and had it (group was carrying material for tea).




Now I was tired and had no sleep yet I and Rahul decided to start and get down ASAP. I had no strength in my legs as my legs were trembling throughout the descend. Somehow we manage to reach the bottom and there was a small pond just where we parked our bikes, apparently we didn’t see it while starting so took another dip to balance and cooled the body temperature. It started raining so got wet a little.

Sonawane asked us to take a shortcut to Igatpuri so we followed his route which was very scenic but was like off roading . So we stopped at a restaurant n highway and had lunch. Most of it was a regular ride back to city. Reached home and finally had a good night sleep after hot shower and dinner