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Maharashtra’s Deadliest Trek: Alang Madan Kulang Trek

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Maharashtra is famous for its fort treks, and living in Mumbai or Pune means that you get a lot of opportunities to get that adrenaline pumping during a weekend trek. And today I am going to tell you about one of the toughest in Maharashtra. Alang Madan Kulang trek is a high difficulty grade trek in the Sahyadri – Igatpuri region of Maharashtra, India. It is surrounded by some of the mightiest mountains like Kalsubai, Aundh Fort, Patta/Vishramgad, and Bitangad to the east, Harihar, Trimbakgad, and Anjaneri to the north and Harishchandragad, Ajobagad, Ratangad, and Katrabai Peak to the south.

Alang, Madan and Kulang forts are three forts perched on high hills. These forts have historically significance as they were constructed by the Shivaji army that had strategic importance due to the view of the surrounding plains from the top. The steps that you see during the trek were mostly cut by them. The trail is challenging as you’ll negotiate steep rocky patches, craggy rock faces and the dense forests of the Sahyadris to discover these ancient forts.

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Alang (4852 ft): The beautiful Alang Fort lies in the Nashik region. Top of the fort is huge plateau. There are two caves on the fort for staying and 11 water cisterns arranged in a Cascade formation & a dilapidated storage room.

Madan (4841 ft): Madangad is considered to be one of the most difficult forts to climb among all the forts in the Shayadris. Over here rock climbing would be required as the wall of the steps was destroyed during the cannon fire. The area of the fort is quite small as compared to Alang and Kulang, its adjoining forts. There are only two water tanks on top of the fort. The area visible from the top of the fort is quite scenic.

Kulang (4825 ft): This fort has the highest climb from base to top in Sahyadri ranges. Out of the trio forts. Only this fort can be climbed without technical help. To reach the top one has to climb rock cut stairs, some which are broken are blown away by the British. There are few remnants and water tank on fort.

So what is it about this trek that makes it unique and a must of any avid trekker in the region to visit. Let’s start with the difficulty level. The trail to the forts is filled with rocks, boulders and seasonal streams. The long traverse on the ledges at multiple points on the trek is definitely a unique experience. At times you will be trekking for a km with hard rocks on one side and a 1,000-foot drop on the other. This will might make your heart jump constantly.

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This one’s not just a hiking trail. Unlike most other treks where the vertical rock faces have some kind of support to ascend and descend, the vertical rocks on this trek cannot be traversed without the support of climbing equipment. This makes the trek extremely special and difficult at the same time, as this is the only trek that demands these skills in the Western Ghats. Bear in mind that this is a technical hike and you will need some serious rock climbing and rope fixing experience if you’re doing this all by on own. Alternatively, you can take assistance from the locals who regularly do the super-human job of fixing ropes and helping the trekkers climb these forts with as much convenience as possible.

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It’s not only about how difficult the trek is but also about the beautiful views it radiates. The forest sections at the foot of Alang and Kulang forts are a treasure to find in the Sahyadris. Apart from the usual rocks and boulders, they are also filled with flora and fauna. You may even spot wildlife if you observe the forests and trees closely. Also, once you reach any of the forts, the view there is to die for. The plateau on the top of all the three forts provides panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, reservoirs and farmlands that are breathtaking. Don’t forget to notice the waffle shaped cisterns in the forts. They are shaped in this way so that the water is distributed equally and never overflows. But in my head I am imagining a crispy waffle with overflowing maple syrup. How about you?

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Trek Route

One more interesting part about this trek is that you can choose where to start and the trek. You can start the trek in one village, cover all three forts and end the trek in another village. Isn’t that amazing!

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Option I:  The most common and followed route is Ghatghar to Karungwadi. If you take this path, you will get views of all the three forts as you start the trek. This route will take you through villages and farmlands. Also, the grass is greener (actually plenty) on this side.  The route goes:

Day 1:

Section I: Ghatghar to Alang Fort

Section II: Alang Fort to Madan Fort

Day 2:

Section III: Madan Fort to Kulang Fort

Section IV: Kulang Fort to Kurungwadi

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Option II: This one’s for people who want to start the trek and end it at the same base village — which is Ambewadi. The route goes:

Day 1:

Section I: Ambewadi to Alang Fort

Section II: Alang Fort to Madan Fort

Day 2:

Section III: Madan Fort to Kulang Fort

Section IV: Kulang Fort to Ambewadi via Ambewadi Roadhead

Best Time to Visit

November – February are the best months to go on the trek. Since this trek involves a lot of rock climbing, it is best to visit this place during Maharashtra’s climbing season. During monsoons, this place receives very heavy rainfall and this could make the trek really slippery and risky. Summers, on the other hand, heat up the rocks so much that it gets really difficult to hold on to them while climbing if you do not have special gloves.

How to Reach

The best way to reach Ambewadi village for people traveling from Mumbai as well as Pune by local transport is by taking a local train on Central Railway line till Kasara Station and hiring a shared Jeep from there.

What do you think about this trek? Are you ready to climb?

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