-Overview:
Location good enough for 2 days trek.

-Location:
Bhandar Dara, Ahmadnagar District.

-How to reach/Route:
From Pune (Nashik Phata) to Bhandar Dara (Depot) - Private Vehicle, ST is available.
From Pune (Nashik Phata) to Samrad Village, Bhandar Dara – Private Vehicle, ST is available but limited frequency even from Bhandar Dara (Depot).
From Pune (Nashik Phata) to Ratanwadi Village, Bhandar Dara – Private Vehicle, ST is available but limited frequency even from Bhandar Dara (Depot).

-Stay:
Caves, mostly full on weekends, or if U‘ve tents then probably U may stay @ the fort on a moonlit night, but snakes might accompany U.

-Points 2 visit on the fort:
Nedhe (natural hole to the hill),  or THE 'Eye of the Needle'(Susnset & Sunrise point), Trymbak Darwaja, Kalyan Darwaja, Water cisterns.

-Points 2 visit near by the fort:
Sandhan Valley (might take a single day itself, if u kind of expedition), Fall @ end of Sandhan Valley(main attraction in monsoon), The Thumb-like pinnacle(Khunta of Ratangad) facing Alang at 1230m , The Dada g, Baan Pinnacle.

-Best time to visit:
October to February, (some might disagree & say the mosoon is the best time but u might miss out many viewable points due to heavy rain & fog, including sun rise & set).

-my Story:
This was the time when the when I didn't go to jeet's flat rather the other way round. Yeah Jeet came down instead.
It was a starlit friday night, the moon had enlightened the sky with her brilliance. The lamp posts probably not even required & I was more than excited as we were head'g towards our trek to Ratangad with a chance of night trek on the fort.

We were joining the InVenture group, pune for the same.

Nov'09, 06

2000 Hrs
Came in Indrajeet to my flat.
We've got all the required stuffs for trek, Jeet has got his Jungle boots(Woodland) again ..OMG!!! but as directed by Vishal he kept them optional. So we went out for dinner & to get the torch cells.

2100 Hrs
called Aditya (InVenture group), no response..!
got the cells, called aditya again, no response..still!

called Sameer(InVenture group), conveyed our status..

2130 Hrs
came in call, Aditya...."Hey Avishek whts ur status"(arey yar yeh manager hai kya, pehli baar call kiya aur 'hi' bolne ke jagah 'status' pooch rha hai)
"will leave Shivajinagar by around 10 pm & reach nashik phata within 20 mins"

2200 Hrs
we were about to leave...came in call from Aditya..
Aditya:"yar we are wait'g for 1 member, yet to join might get late by 15 mins, 'll get u a miss call as soon as we leave so tht u may reach accordingly"
me:"no we'll leave now as we might'nt get auto later"
Aditya:"ok".

waited there for an auto for 15 mins... :O
walked all the way almost to reach the kasarwadi phata..(phew!!! sara khaya piya 5 km ke trek mein nikal gya...fir se bhuk lagi hai :( )

2230 Hrs
@ kasarwadi phata..Adi's call
"readching in 5 mins"
me:"yeah we r almost there..."

2245 Hrs
reached Nashik Phata..a 17 seater with three ppl stand'g outside wait'g for us
Aditya, Rishikesh, Sridhar(InVenture group instructors).

jumped in....broom broom....start of the journey.
I got the last row seat..seigh...'ll b a jumping jack through out the journey.

after 15 mins
Aditya: "guys all set!, anyone yet to done with the dinner?"
NONE!!!(yar mera to sara khaya piya trek karke aane mein nikal gya, ab aage kye trek karunga, wo bhi bhuke peth :( )
Aditya:"ok 'll stop for tea some time later"

FM channels go'g on nonstop songs....its friday night guys!
wanted to update my tweets but better save my cell battery for better purpose.

Nov'09, 07

0130 Hrs
halted for tea, the drive must get a break as well as a tea wd b energizer!
only 6 ppl came down
driver saab, instructors(3), me n Jeet.
Jeet got a tea & me... cream-roll(20 saal baad...raat mein khane ka maja hi alag hai)

Aditya: "guys the bill is on self, plz"
Jeet: "sure"

me: "Aditya how long are gonna travel more?"
Aditya: "yar abhi 2 ghante aaram se so sakte ho(2 more hrs ..so relax & sleep tight)"
me(araam se, yahan samne se aate huye gadiyoon ki headlight ke focus ne nind haram kar rakhi hai)

(trying to get my face covered or hide behind the luggage or sleeping bags to avoid the focus of headlights of the other vehicles crossing over)

0330 Hrs
going throught the ghats, cldn't sleep atall & after some time I was competely awake, hope to reach the base camp soon & exicited about the moonlit night.

0440 Hrs
reached base camp, 'Samrad Village'.
ppl started mov'g out to sleep, but I prefered to sleep in the vehicle as there was space & warm too ;)
had put an alarm of 0630 hrs.

0615 Hrs
got up after a sleep of sleep of 1 hrs 15 mins, a much reqd b4 trek.
back-water!!! shd I jump into .....the child within me jumped of joy..
did a small photo shoot of myself, jeet & the sunrise

0800 Hrs
its bfast time, toda sa kuch kha lena chahiye.. ;)
We two r too intelligent ;) so we thgt Y to get all the stuffs, so we dumped some unrequired stuffs which probably might not of any help on the fort in one bag & get the other ready for trek...

0900 Hrs
Got drinking water..hand pump, a grt resource to get clean drinking water in most of the indian villages.
After a brief & formal introdoc, we were handed over the map of the fort individually followed by a group photo.

Team consists of:
Ashwini Rathi
Avishek Arang
Girish Deshpande
Gunesh Desai
Hrishikesh Joshi
Indrajeet Mukherjee
Sanjeev Gothekar

Sudhir Harikant
Vishal Butte

Started the trek.
Yashwant Rao(villager/ guide), joined us!

Aditya, HRishikesh or Sridhar completely get'g us the info & answers to our each n everything queries ...history, locality!
Also Aditya was lett'g us know about what all programs they would be conducting in due course of time(Nov-Dec-Jan), that kept me & Jeet allarmed!

Meanwhile we just by passed the Sandhan Valley, its awesome. its a different trek program all together & might take time.

After reaching certain point rishikesh backed out as due to freshly operated leg.

wandered here n there with my cam(in built in mobile), every1 was gett'g as many photos as they want. it was complete leisure time, a free weekend, miles away from system, worksheets, mobile connectivity, polution, rush hours...
I switched my mobile mode to offline even!

We could see the other end of the Sandhan Valley, it was terminating to a fall, Oh My! how fascinating would it look in the monsoon!

Kept walking ahead.
It was great passing through the green lands.

1330 Hrs
reached top...the caves.
filled our water bottles with the drinking water source...
The fort is origin for the river Pravara / Amrutvahini

1400 Hrs
Jaal Krida time..
the water in the cistern was so chilled also we werent sure of the dept too
after half n hour masti in the chilled water it was time for Lunch

1445 Hrs
Khakra & Paratha time!!!
-parathas(Aaloo+methi)
-khakra
-aaloo bhaji
-mirchi loncha
-mug daal bhaji
-green chillies
-apple
-pear
(guys sry if i miss out smthg, I was too busy in wrapping up the thgs)
even the team was too busy tht none thgt of the 'royal supper snap' until it clicked to Sridhar!!!

tx to Jeet for the swiss knife tht helped alot .... in the due course

1530 hrs
nap time
I, Jeet, Sudhir & Gunesh thgt to b in the open arena while rest moved to the cave.
Ashwini moved ahead to get sm mindblowing snaps of the fort instead.
The heavy wind wasn't allowing me to get into full gear, while Jeet looked comfortable
Even Sudhir & Gunesh moved out to wander on the fort!
just then a bif stone fell off the cave wall..thank godness none lied down there...
but every1 awoke after that except the instructors...
every1 started their own expedition of the fort thereafter.

almost @same time we heard lots of ppl(probably a team of 15 or more)

I got up, asked Jeet if he wanna join in,
Jeet:"later..."
me:"where z ur cam"...got his cam
after so many random question Jeet finally got u:"ab tum sone doge hi nhin to main kya karun....."

as we started our expedition we've found two teams reach'g the top(we had been expecting them @least 30 mins back..but its was it was their voice echo which made us believe they r closer than they actually were)

they almost had a competition to reach the top earlier so as to capture the cave for night stay, but soon as the reached the caves all their excitment & energy seemed to persish as we already had captured the same ;)
(so early to bed early to rise does work boys....)

I, Jeet & Vishal returned to caves after gett'g snaps.
the instructors got up so it was time to rock n roll all over the fort...
We've put all our luggages in the caves so tht we don't face any space problem to sleep in the night.
Yashwant rao was there to start the preparation for our dinner so we headed straight ahead.

We have covered
-Water Cistern
-Kalyan darwaja
-Store
-Underground cave for sheltter(its said its more than 1.5 kms in area)
-The Eye(best point for both Sunset & sunrise view...)

its a rare combination to get a common point from where both sunrise & sunset looks grt..
we had spend more than 40 minutes to capture all the shades of lights while the sunset...no doubt a perfect spot for photo shoot..
wind blowing strong there, but aditya says its even stronger in night & monsoon..

we even had been to the top of The Eye.
We came back to the caves where Yashwant Rao was about to start cooking the dinner..Aditya, Sridhar & Sanjeev joined him.

1900 Hrs
Vishal, Jeet & I moved away from the irritating nuicances by other grp.
carried our torches & gone to the edge in search of peace....'yeh hasin vaadiyaan'
gazing the stars in the sky, in absence of the moon.
Vishal had sm grt mann Dev saab's collection to add to it..calm quite peaceful environment.

2000 Hrs
returned back to the caves..probably the dinner wd be ready.
-Masala Bhat
-Papad
-Loncha
wht else is reqd frnds....this is the life!

2130 Hrs
sleeping time

2330 Hrs
felt choked up
disturbed Jeet's sleep

0030 Hrs
Jeet:"thik ho"
me:"yeah..i m perfect(ab jaike to nind lag rhi hai aur usmein bhi khalal...ofooh)"

0330 Hrs
Vishal still focsing his torch on spiderman.
Jeet:"spiderman spiderman..sssss"
me:"(Vishal) yar tujhe nind nhin aa rhi hai to @least us bechare makdi(poor spider) ki nind kyun kharab kar rha hai, kaam se kam use to chain se sone de ;)"

0530 Hrs
Jeet & I got up to hunt the fort @ early morn'g...
waO the moon completely on our head, no need of torch any more.
after our expedition of the fort we came back to cave.
the wind blowing @ grt speed.

0600 Hrs
(in the cave)Jeet's alarm (set in mobile) hit...
we thought to disturb the rest who were fallen asleep ;)

0615 Hrs
soon realising it wd b a grt sunrise to watch I came out with Yashwant rao along with the utensils to wash.
after keeping the utensils near the water cistern I moved to the edge to capture the sunrise

long photo shoot
the wind kept thrashing @ me ...

0645 Hrs
Sudhir, Vishal & Rishi joined in for photo shoot.

0700 Hrs
back to caves ...breakfast time

yashwant rao, aditya, girish every1 was into preparing the pohe
Jeet the cook somehow cldn't manage to keep himself apart from his proficiency. he jumped into the brooth about when to add salt to pohe.
& giving his final touch to pohe.

awesome pohe with some green chillies...

0900 Hrs
started climbing down

there are two steps patches..
another team already there
we asked them to hold on there.. (climbing down steps/ rock patch @ any fort is more difficult to climbing up...my opinion*)
all down...phew..Aditya maintained a calm desend as if he was climbing down his flats steps...

there after it was a simple trek through the jungle to the ratanwadi village of about 1.5 hrs.

1100 Hrs
A visit to Amruteshwar Temple.

waiting for the vehicle, no communication, neither reliance nor bsnl :(
we got sm local pedas meanwhile
5 ltrs of milk used to prepare 1 Kg of Mawa & hardly .5 Kg of sugar added..awesome taste(perfect for ppl who don't prefer sweet)

we had some light moments to share with each other...& the best way was recalling the momnets from the movie 'RUN'
-kawa biryani
-choti ganga
-arey sala kidney nikaal liya hai re
-petikot baba

Aditya some how managed to get to Rishikesh & came with the response that the vehicle got punctured so we've to wait for some more time
Sridhar suggested:"we may enjoy the bath in the fresh riverwater!!!"

1220 Hrs
came in vehicle

1240 Hrs
reached Samrad village

Lunch ready for us!

the team finished it in 40 mins approx
nxt round Aditya, Sridhar, Rishikesh, Sameer...(arey kya char din ka khana kha ke uthenge...)
they took more than an hour...
meanwhile to kill time Vishal joined the local kids for cricket
we discovered a grt local talent who can b handy in both ODIs & Tests as well...

1500 Hrs
left Samrad Village
way back to Pune via Bhandar dhara> Sangamner> Rajguru Nagar> Chakan > Pune
crossed Bhandar dhara dam & ghat ghar

1840 Hrs
a tea stall:+17 cups tea ;)

reached pune 2130 Hrs...

Points to remember:
- try to get there as early as possible..best time leave pune or mumbai by friday late night, the early u start ur trek the better possibilty to get the caves booked for urselves.