AMK a.k.a Alang, Madan and Kulang are the three terrific forts in the Sahyadri range. Known for its rugged surrounding and rocky patches; a trek to these forts require technical climbing, exposure to deep valley and most important of all a great amount of endurance and stamina!
Having done my background search on these forts, I was awaiting for the opportunity to explore the rugged route to A-M-K. I even attended rock-climbing session to understand the technicalities and also built the stamina. After a long wait, YHAI (Youth Hostel Association of India) announced their trek schedule. And there it was… the A.M.K trek scheduled for 11-12-13th January 2014, the plan was to cover three summit in three days. Packing the essentials like sleeping bag, torch, eatables, water bottles, energy drink and extra clothes…we set for the trek.
The trek comprised of 11 members including leaders (Satish and Umesh). We reached a small village Ambegaon at the crack of the dawn. There are three interconnected routes to approach these forts; from Ambewadi, Kulangwadi and Ghatghar. So, one can either start the trek by ascending Fort Kulang through Kulangwadi and the route continues till Alang or start from Fort Alang through Ambewadi/Ghatghar and the route continues till Kulang. We did this trek from Ambewadi.
Caution: The trek route follows through the village then towards Krida hill. On reaching the Nal route of Krida hill, do not ascend instead follow the side route ascending the adjacent hill. The climb to small hill is followed by traverse patch and then ascend to reach the first rock patch of Alang, which passes through dense jungle.
It takes approximately two and half hours to reach the first rock patch, which is nearly 25 feet and tilted at an angle of approximately 70 degrees. And the second one is the notorious and nerve-wrecking 70 feet rock patch of Alang. While few of the fellow-trekkers climbed the patch using the jumaring technique, others climbed with the help of grips present on the patch. There was a sense of satisfaction by completing the summit of Alang.
We were amazed to see the U-shape Alang fort with its chiseled walls. At the fort, we saw dilapidated Shiva temple, six-seven small water tanks and two caves on the fort. One of the cave was spacious which could easily accommodate 30-40 trekkers, and adjacent to the cave was a small tank with potable water. On reaching Alang, we saw the Madan and Kulang forts to the west. The view of Madan was amazing from the far west end of the Alang fort. From this point, one could see the steps of Madan fort, which has 11 cisterns.
The next morning post-breakfast, we rappelled down Alang’s patch wearing the harness. From there, we headed to Madan. One needs to reach the Col between Alang and Madan to start the trek for Madan. Route to Madan is traverse patch via very dense forest till the steps of Madan.
Remember: From Col, one of the route descends through Nal which reaches Kulang. Do not descend down at Khind instead continue to walk on the traverse path. Within 8-10 minutes one could easily reach to steps of Madan. At one point of traverse, the trekkers are exposed to deep valley, even though there are grips to cross it safely it is advisable to set up rope. Rocky patch of Madan is easier than Alang but it requires technical climbing. The rock patch has 100% exposure to gorge. It is towards the end of traverse, one could see steps to Madan forts.
Compared to Alang, Madan fort is smaller in size with two potable water tanks and a cave. On the way to Kulang there were steep descend with loose rocks till the base of Madan from the Col. The plan for the day was to reach the peak of Kulang by evening, and then from the Col descend to Nal (Ambewadi side) and walk towards the traverse route. It takes nearly two and half hours to reach this point, from there we had to ascend for Kulang. At this junction, if one continues to follow straight route it will descends down to Kulangwadi through a Nali route (Nal in between Kulang fort and Chota Kulang hill). We started ascending towards the steep hill, it is at the end of the patch we saw the rock cut steps to enter the Kulang.
Finally we managed to climb three summits in just two days! There was a sense of pride and achievement after taking the challenging trek of A-M-K in the Sahyadri range. For those who consider treks as just another picnic spot should not only change their mind but also their attitude. It is very disheartening to see the dilapidated forts with garbage and contaminated water-tanks. Its high time, these structures of historical importance are given its due respect.