The AMK Range! Always petrifies most of the Sahyadri trekkers…..The sheer look of AMK gives you the chill in the spine…Yes, friends, I am talking about Alang-Madan-Kulang, popularly called as AMK….The AMK falls in the Igatpuri range and these 3 hill forts can be seen for miles together whilst traveling on the Mumbai – Nashik route.
Climbing Alang & Madan requires special climbing skills whereas for Kulang, the easier one of the 3, one needs to be a strong trekker since this is one of the longest treks in the Sahyadris.
Trekdi from Pune, was organizing this trek on 15 th -16 th Jan'11. The start point was Fergusson College main gate at 10pm. Hence, I booked myself on the Deccan Queen train on 14 th Jan evening from Mumbai to Pune and met up with the Trekdi trekkers at the start point. We were about 15 members in all including a small girl. We boarded our private bus at around 11pm and left Pune for Ambevadi, the base village of Kulang .
There are two routes to reach Kulang :
Route 1 : Igatpuri – Ghoti – Ambewadi – Kulang
Route 2 : From Igatpuri one has to reach ‘Bahuli' village from where, it takes 3 to 4 hrs to reach Kurangwadi. From kurangwadi to Kulang base takes another hour. Roughly a total of 5 hrs of walk.
We decided to take Route 1 since we were driving from Pune to Ambewadi. We arrived into Ambewadi at around 4am on 15th Jan. There was an eerie atmosphere in the village and none of the villagers were bothered on the strangers arrival. We parked near the temple and accomadated ourselves inside the temple & managed to catch up with a few hours of sleep. We woke up at around 6am & finished our morning chores including a power breakfast of tea and biscuits. Once the sun came up, we could get clear and distant views of the AMK massif, basking the morning sun. Alang on the left, Madangad in the centre and Kulang / Kulanggad on the right.
At around 7am we boarded the bus back and moved onto a rough cattle trail, exiting the village towards Kulang. After a 5-7mins of bumpy joyride we reached the start point of the trek. A brief re-grouping and introduction amongst fellow trekkers, we started our march towards Kulang. Walking on a prominent trail, keeping Kulang on the left, we moved towards a thicket, into it and reached dry waterfall. Crossing the fall, we climbed onto the upper reaches of the waterfall. We take a right here and traverse a trail through a patch of shrubs, reaching near a huge tree. From here we took a left and climbed through the Karvi undergrowth. We reached a rock portion of about 12ft where we climbed carefully. Moving on we reached a portion of the ridge that would connect us to the broken steps….A small flight of steps were visible on the rock portion of the upper ridge. We carefully ascended them. Soon the steps disappeared. We again took onto a zig-zag trail ascending to the mid-portion of the Kulang fort. The path from hereon is very narrow. We moved cautiously to the left and traversed the entire rock-face towards Madan. Again the steps were visible to reach a small but steep gully. After reaching the gully, we took rest for a few minutes there. We had been climbing for about 3.5 hrs now.
Moving ahead from here on was the trickiest part. A flight of broken steps which is narrow at the beginning and completely exposed on one side ascends onto the entrance of the fort. We crossed this portion taking utmost care and reached the final flight of steps which would take us onto the fort. We reached the fort top at around 12.30pm and managed to settle in one of the huge caves, which falls on the right side of the entrance. Soon we moved about on our quest to visit around the fort. There are several water tanks on the fort, however only two are potable especially the one on the right side of the caves (on a higher ground). From one end of the fort, one can get clear views of Madan and alang top.
From the fort we can locate Kalasubai, Aundh Fort, Patta, Bitangad towards the east. To the north Harihar, Trymbakgad, Anjaneri are seen. To the south one can locate Harishchandragad, Aajobagad, Khutta (pinnacle), Ratangad, & Katrabai. The fort also houses several broken remanants or houses. They might have been used to store supplies and ammunination for the soldiers staying there.
After watching a breathtaking sunset, we returned to the cave and settled for the night. After a brief dinner session (kichadi, dal, pappad and pickle) we called it a day! It was quite cold, however not as freezing as we expected it to be. We woke up at around 6am, finished our morning chores and again went of visiting the other side of the fort (right side of the cave). As we moved towards the end of the fort, the path narrowed and descended a bit to reach the end tip of the fort. The view from here is quite breathtaking. We can see Ambewadi village and the area around. Though visibility was poor due to haze, one can see Igatpuri town on a clear visible day.
After a round of photos we got back to the cave, packed a bags and bid goodbye to Kulang. We started our descend at around 9.30am. The initial part of descent had to be done very cautiously, hence our speed was slow. However, we managed to reach the base trail by around 1.30pm. From the trail we walked for about 20mins to reach our bus waiting point. The bus got us back into Ambewadi Village .
Since, I had to get back to Mumbai, and the rest of the team was proceeding to Pune, I decided to skip the bus trip. I bade goodbye to all fellow trekkers and hitched a tempo ride from Ambewadi Village to Ghoti (about 1.5 hrs). From Ghoti, I managed to get a shared Rickshaw upto Kasara Railway Station. Took a CST train, changing lines at Dadar, finally reaching home at around 11.30pm.
With Kulang under my cap, I now need to accomplish climbing the rest of the two – Alang & Madan….the most difficult ones in Maharashtra….God Knows When!!!
For Trek pics visit the photos section...