Alang-Madan trek, 26-27 November 2011.
Alang- 4500Ft; Madan- 4900ft
Base Village: Ambewadi, (route: Thane-Kasara- Ambewadi)
Base Village: Ambewadi, (route: Thane-Kasara- Ambewadi)
I also by pleasant streams have wandered all night in the Land of Dreams, but though calm and warm the waters wide, I could not get to the other side.
I wandered through unknown lands
With a pack on my back
A third eye in my hands
And some friends I was surrounded by
I walked through rough terrain
Towards the two peaks ahead
To see for my self what it was
To be on the top of Alang-Madan after all
Once again, my live life to its limits attitude took me to one of the most difficult treks in Maharashtra as said by many, to Alang-Madan.
The decision: It was all of a sudden when I came to know about this trek, I read it on the TMI blog & buzzed Nilesh that I was surely accompanying him for this trek. Not knowing what company I was going to be with, I called up some of my TMI friends to see whether they were joining in for this one, but it turned out to be a negative response from all. That didn’t bother me and I was ready for the trek.
I packed my sack and left my place to join the rest of the group in the 1:10am Kasara local. Reached Kalwa and was surprised to find a long lost friend Neeraj. As usual Nilesh & the rest of the group came by after I’d reached. The usual chatting session started just as we boarded the train. The gang members for the trek were Nilesh & Sis, Neeraj, Lawrence, Mahen bhai, Nitin (I love NokiaJ), Shweta, Anuja, Parikshit, Suniel & Shashi.
The journey: As usual Nilesh asked all to take a small nap, but I guess nobody budged to his wordsJ. All of us continued to talk through the journey. Some managed to shut their system off, but I guess those who chit-chatted through had a good time as trekking helps you communicate to a lot of people. Our friend Shweta who tried real hard to rest and sleep was continuously being disturbed by two notorious guys named Nimish & Nitin, I wondered about the anger in her mindJ. We reached Kasara somewhere around 3 am. Nilesh had made arrangements for a jeep to take us to the base village Ambewadi. We along with our big backpacks & two ropes barged into the jeep somehow and a few minutes later stopped at a Dhaba in the Kasara ghat to have a cup of tea. It’s a real good experience to stop at a road side Dhaba in the late night hours to have a hot cup of tea with some cool breeze in the air. The next stop was the base village Ambewadi where we reached around an hour or so.
The village, Ambewadi: The beauty of the night there was just mindboggling. Cool wind, small houses & the star lit dark blue sky was just a photographer’s paradise. Never ever in our daily life do we find such innumerable stars! An astronomer could spot all his constellations. We headed towards the place of our guide, Lakhan, who was sleeping in the veranda of his house. We released our bodies from the weight of our bags & settled down for rest in our sleeping bags. It was around 4am and still the chat continued, I can say the chatting never stops on a trek, but still a few caught a napJ. As for me, I could never miss a chance to shoot vistas from my third eye (my D-SLR), and as all chatted I continued with my creativity to get some real good shots.
The beauty and freshness in the environment is just too beautiful in such villages away from civilization, you get to know really how beautiful life is! For my readers, I really advice you all to trek this route, at least once.
Day 1, the beginning: Waking up at around 6am, we packed our bags and started on with a small introductory session. A few rules & knowledge about the trek & we were on our feet heading towards the mountain at around 7am. The route went trough the vast expanses of farm lands which had dried up. The locals say that Ambewadi is the place where it rains first during the monsoon. The view of the three peaks was amazing. Long miles away stood the three peaks Alang – Madan – Kulang. The crest & trough of the mountain range was a picture perfect photograph. The routine chores of the village were just starting off, shepherds taking their belongings to the graze lands, birds attending their school lectures & women leaving their homes to fetch water.
As we left the village, a surprise view caught my eye.
It took us around half an hour to reach to the actual base of the mountain. It was a quite walk through the farm lands, though the farms had dried up giving a hue of yellow, it was cold out there. The sun had just risen above the mountain top lighting up the farmlands. The route took us through dense plantation and uneven terrain, mostly the plantation was of thorny shrubs which pierced through our clothing. It hurts, but that’s the challenge. Thankfully we were not blessed by the presence of mosquitoes and insects leeching our bodies. The basic trek is a nice walk through the forest with a few rock patches here and there. But I think this simple walk would be very tough during the monsoon season. As we gained height we stopped to drench our bodies with water at regular pit stops. Trekking for nearly two hours or so took us to the first cave somewhere halfway from both the peaks. We dropped our bags and rested for a while as we had to resume our trek to Madangad. A small break & some safety directions from Nilesh & we marched towards Madangad. The view of Madangad was really different from all that I’d seen before. It stood like a huge straight piece of rock waiting for us to conquer it. But the image below of the same peak seems to be something different.
Madan-gad: The walk towards the peak itself was quiet tough as there were small edges here & there dropping straight into the valley. A half hour walk led us to the rock patch at the top of the peak. Our guides Lakhan & Hiraman along with Nilesh had already reached the rock patch to anchor & set up the ropes for the rest of us to ascend upon. It was nearly a 40 feet rock patch inclined at an angle of around 80˚. The patch was a tough one without a rope but an easy one with it. Many of our members hadn’t ascended before, so it turned out to be a bit tough affair for them, but now they wish of doing it againJ.
It took nearly an hour to lift the 12 members of ours to the top. This patch must be very difficult in the monsoon, I guess so! The view from the top of Madangad was just amazing. A 360˚ view stretching up to some 10 -15kms was just beautiful. The clear blue sky just added to the hue of the surrounding. The top of the peak is a big patch of land with a small cave & two watering holes to quench our thirst. I wonder how the tanks & the cave were carved out at such a high altitude. A salute to the ‘Mavale’ of Mahrashtra. Things like these just increase my respect for Shivaji Maharaj & his vision. A brief photo session of all our members & we were done with it (everybody just loves to pose for the photos, dunno why!J). We were lucky enough to see an eagle in flight with a wide wing span spread into the air. Although I had a stock 55mm lens, I managed to capture the eagle somehow.
Returning down the same route had to go through a rappelling session. Most of us had to be briefed about how to rappel, what’s a belay & how to hold self between the ropes. Thanks to Nilesh, he explained everybody about it patiently. I being trekking for nearly 10years now need not be explained with rappelling & ascendingJ. A wish for all those who go for a trek to at least watch some rappelling & ascending videos over YouTube, it could make all the activities a bit easier. Another hour or so & all our fellow mates headed back to the cave where we had made base earlier leaving me & Nilesh at the ropes. After Nilesh’s safe descend we returned to the cave.
The rest of the gang had already opened their lunch box & started feeding upon. Although on a trek, all of us were well equipped with a variety of delicacies in the middle of the mountain. Right from theplas to jam & bread, from cheese to ‘aachaar’, we had it all. That’s more than what one could wish for in the middle of nowhere. Oh! What a feast it was! Our plan was to reach the top of Alang-gad before night fall, so wasting no time we resumed our trek. Just a small walk & a climb through a wrecked crevice & we reached the spot from where we had to ascend through ropes to get to the top. Our guides Lakhan & Hiraman were the men of daring courage. Lakhan climbed the nearly 40 feet high rock patch just like a monkey without any harness or support. It seemed like they just didn’t fear anything worse. Anchoring & tying the ropes perfectly for the rest of the group they had to be ready to pull others up. This patch of rock had very few crevices to hold hands on & set foot, so it was difficult to just climb. Hence for the rest of us had to be pulled up. Like a two way pull, people had to be pulled from above as well as they had to pull themselves over the rope. It took nearly an hour for us to get there.
Best part of the trek, the staircase: Now was the most difficult part of the whole trek. I guess this is the part why this peak if so difficult for. It was a stair just besides the patch of rock that we had just ascended falling straight into the valley till its depth. The only place to set foot was a rock staircase with a width of just below 2 feet. On the left hand was a straight piece of rock so our sacks had to face the valley while our hands gripped on to the crevices on the rock stair. Every step had to be taken carefully with our hands properly holding the stair. I guess most of us wobbled a bit at that patch, but there was no other option than to do it. The view from that patch was just awesome. It was like standing on the edge with a straight drop into the deep valley & nothing neither for your safety nor for support. But the feeling that went through my body after safely crossing the patch was complete mental satisfaction of doing something different most of the people don’t get an opportunity to do so. This was the most difficult thing in the entire trek.
On top of the mountain: The night had fallen & the entire mountain top had darkened out. A lot of cool wind blowing in the air, stars just coming out of their hiding, lights just abuzz in the villages far away was just a beautiful view you don’t get to see in routine life. The top of the mountain was an expanse of land covered in dried up grass & rocks. Two watering holes besides a ‘Shiv Mandir’ & two big caves some distance away. The caves were really big from the inside, bigger than those at Harishchandragad. Filling up our bottles with water from the tanks we finally dropped down ourselves in the caves. It was sheer peace! It had already darkened up around us. A new life at the caves, hands on our torches & efforts to prepare dinner. What an adventureJ!! After a lot of efforts in preparing the food & the spotting of a ‘viper’ near the water tank it was time for dinner. Thanks to Nilesh to take the risk to take the viper far away from the caves as for it to not return back. We all feasted upon the biryani. With the night came the beauty. Stars brightly twinkling to light the sky, the old city lights shining from miles away, the peaceful sound of the wind, the emptiness fulfilled. The feeling of being at such a place makes you realize how beautiful life really is.
The night: we continued the regular chores after dinner, “Bhutan chya goshti, aani trekking che kisse”. All gathered around the campfire & listened to Nilesh’s lullaby stories J (as usual) while I was off with my camera to complete my chores. Now it was me, Lawrence & Mahen chilling outside the cave & chit chatting all the way. Time for bed and another different experience to sleep on the ground floor in a cave. As the rest of us chatted towards glory, I and a few others managed to get some sleep.
Day 2: woke up with “baba lagin”!! Mahen had set an alarm to ring with “baba lagin”J. It just buzzed out all of us. Most of us set foot to the top of the mountain to experience the sunrise. A 20 minute walk took us to the top. The entire place had ruins of the fortification here & there. A pond big enough to fill up a small army, and few ruins of houses dimmed down by the rising sun, hue in the sky dropping down from blue to orange & the grass waving with the wind. The feeling at a height of above 4400ft on one of the toughest peaks to trail upon is simply extravagant. All the environmental factors calm you down in such a way that you tend to forget all your worries from daily life. It’s like a ‘LIFE’ beyond life! One should really experience such things regularly.
The descend: After a good breakfast of all that we had, right from Maggie noodles, parathas (or theplas for my fellow Gujarat friendsJ), biscuits & some black tea (kora chaha) as Nilesh had forgotten to bring milk powder, it was time to leave. Strapped our bags once again for the descend bidding a bye to the mountain top, we resumed our journey back to the base. Filling our bottles with the water from the tanks we stood on the same threatening patch of rock stars. Anyways, slowly & steadily once again at turtle speeds all of us managed to cross it & reach till the rock patch to rappel down. Another hour or so, the rappelling session continued as we chatted our way to glory. We came upon another group of three trekkers who’d come along with another villager as a guide. They stumbled upon the patch and watched upon us as we carried our activities with good ropes & harness whilst they’d come without any harness but with a hand made rope. When you see others equipped with proper things, you tend to doubt about your own things, & that’s what happened with the other group. They decided not to reach the top of the peak & rappel down with us. Completing the last rock patch for the trek we resumed our descend. The later trek was a simple walk through the dense plantation of thorny shrubs & rocks (once again we had to fight the thorns). Then started the singing session & the rest of us started correcting their vocal notes with every song they sang. Although they sang all together on different scales & notes, I and a few decided to stay back & follow in peace (I don’t like to disturb the peace of the jungleJ). Another two hours & we were crossing the farm lands on the base. Farmers dusted & sorted their crop produce while the goats grazed on the rest of the plantation. The sun was still shining bright in the sky & birds flying up high. We went through many farms to reach our village base.
Back to base village, evening glory: The surroundings in the village had dusked up. Different hues of blue & orange colored the sky beautifully & unfortunately my camera battery had finished out. The cool wind was still flowing in the air.
The ‘mumma hen’ had been out with her chicks (I guess she took her kids to show them the villageJ) had returned back home. The baby goats were surprised by our visit & they were ready to pose with us for some good photographs. My trek mates weren’t far enough from sporting themselves as villagers (see the photosJ). We returned to the place that we’d stayed before, Lakhan’s place. He had a very good house with a clean courtyard (sarawlele angan) where we chatted up on all our things. He served us good black tea (kora chaha) & ‘kande pohe’. Although our stomach had filled up, we didn’t leave out any of the ‘kande pohe’. A final photo shoot & some chit chat jokes followed by a long wait for the tempo to take us back to Kasara. The night crept into the surroundings & the diya’s had started glowing outside all the houses. What a beautiful life it was! Late in the evening we barged into the tempo & bid the place a goodbye. No tears dropped, just some smiles exchanged with myself, the place & the pretty young kids around, I felt happy for being able to experience this life, beyond life!
Continued with the singing session we reached Kasara around 9pm to board the local train back home. What a surprise, back to reality! And I just don’t like it so much! L
Traveller notes: Doing the Alang-Madan trek was a great experience as a whole leaving me with Kulang, yet to be scaled. The toughest part of the trek is definitely at the stairs on the top of Alang. The rock patches are tough for those who need to get to the top to anchor the ropes, for the rest, they are simple patches. The terrain being mostly thorny it is advisable to wear full clothing. Watching the sun rise & set is an overall beautiful experience along with the star gazing in the night. Use your water carefully. Do carry a camera. The little kids in the village excited by our presence shows you a different view point of difference between city life & this...
Do trek this route at least a time in LIFE.
Work it Make it Do it Makes us Harder Better Faster Stronger