Bhandardara


Bhandardara – Scotland of Maharashtra !!!

The planning had already begun almost a month earlier when we were hunting for an ideal monsoon getaway, that would not be too wet for comfort. Deadline was June to avoid the heavy monsoon and locations shorlisted were Bhandardara and Diveagar. We ended up finalising Bhandardara as the greenery excited me more than the serene beaches in rains.

We were targetting MTDC for our accomodation, but soon realised that getting a  booking for a monsoon weekend is next to impossible. We somehow managed to get a 12-bed dorm for a Friday night and therefore had to shift the trip to a Fri-Sat combo. As conveyance, we settled for a Force Traveller A/C (Sleek – 17 seater). Basic preparations done, the wait for the weekend was full of anxiety .. with the week full of heavy rains adding to the excitement.

Friday finally arrived and we set off from Mulund @ 9:00 am to pick another family from Airoli and get enroute the NH3 via Thane – Belapur road. We hit a roadblock here at the Kalva subway and realised that going back via Eastern Express Highway would have been a better option. It was now too late to do that and we ended up wasting an hour at this junction. However, once we hit the NH3 it was a dream ride. The highway is well constructed with some widening work going on in patches.

As we approached Shahapur, Asangaon and then Kasara, it started raining heavily. The fog had not settled yet and visibility was reduced to 100m. The driver skillfully maneouvred the vehicle through the Kasara Ghat and we managed to reach Igatpuri and take a right turn into Ghoti @ 1 pm. The road hereonwards to Shendi is a typical village road (tarred but potholed) and although it is approx. 35 kms, it took us just more than an hour to reach Shendi and the MTDC resort.

This drive is very scenic with views of Alang, Madan, Kulang ranges and also passes through Bari village, which is at the foothills of Kalsubai (highest peak of Maharashtra). The MTDC resort is located at a prime location on the shores of Arthur lake with a good view of Ratangad.

Once we had settled down in our room, we were so hungry that we literally gobbled up the chhole-bhakri that we’d carried along. Later we caught hold of a guide who promised to show us the Wilson Dam, Garden, Randha falls in the evening and Amruteshwar temple, Ghatgarh on the next day. After relaxing a bit, we left for sight-seeing @ 4:30 pm.

The first stop was on the winding road immediately after leaving the resort. This gives a good view of the Wilson Dam (opened in 1926). We could see one of the gates opened for irrigation. That caused a massive waterfall, which we were able to see up close from the garden below. Enroute this garden are a lot of Jambhul and Mango trees bearing ripe fruit ready to be picked :) .

The green waters of the Pravara gushing past was a treat to watch. We spent a lot of time here in the ice-cold waters. I’m sure this place will be a treat to watch in late-August.

The next stop was further down the same road towards Rajur. Randha falls is an approximate 50 ft high waterfall formed when the Pravara river collapses into a gorge. The valley below was the location for the climax of the hindi movie ‘Aks’. One can see atleast 25 honeycombs hanging from the crevices of a mountain nearby. Although the Randha fall was just at about 10% of it’s maximum strength it was a fearsome sight. I can’t imagine how murderous it will be at the peak of the monsoon. The still waters gave a good photo opportunity for reflections :)

We were back at the resort before nightfall and after a heavy dinner and some gupshup alongside playing cards/housie, had a good night’s sleep. Next morning was a bit hectic with early rise due to MTDC rules of checkout by 9:00 am. I wonder why they have such weird timings when the whole world checks out at 11. Luckily we completed everything on time and we in the traveller by 10 to move towards Ratanwadi.

Enroute Ratanwadi is a small waterfall, accessible enough to get wet under. Had a good time there. We reached the Amruteshwar temple at 12. This is a very old temple believed to be more than 1000 years old and as legend goes built by the Pandavas in a night. It is built in the Hemadpanti style with intricate carvings and the Shivling is submerged in water most of the times. Shivaji Maharaj’s favourite fort Ratangad can be clearly viewed from here and is the source (ugam) for the Pravara river.

The drive from Ratanwadi to Ghatghar is another scenic one, albeit potholed. Sun-kissed peaks greeted us with warmth. I don’t think these wud be visible in the peak monsoon, when the area would be very foggy and the sky gloomy.

We reached Ghatgarh at 1. This is location to a huge vertical rock face named the Konkan Kada and although it is only half the size of the actual Konkan Kada at Harishchandragad, this one too is awe inspiring. The forest at the end of it is said to house panthers, so we didn’t venture further :)

 

Ghatgarh to Shendi is another hour’s drive, where we dropped our guide and set off on our return journey. With a sole stopover at Igatpuri for lunch, we zoomed back to Mumbai and touched Mulund at 7 pm. End of a beautiful, scenic and much awaited break from the traffic-ridden hustle of Mumbai.

Planning to go back in September to see a overflowing Arthur Lake :)

 

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W E L L W I S H E R      A L E R T  !!!

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This is for first-timers who rely entirely on Google Maps to find a route to Bhandardara.

The top suggestion from Mumbai to Bhandardara shown in Google Maps takes you through Kasara – SH44 – Ghatgarh.

But this road at Ghatgarh simply does not exist. It is a ridge in the mountain and therefore a dead end. I have tried editing this on Google Maps, but for some reason, the stupid reviewers do not seem to understand the seriousness of this glitch and keep rejecting my changes. Below image shows the part highlighted in blue (click this link to see on Google Maps)  

The road to be avoided (in blue) !!!!

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Categories: Hill Stations | Tags: , , | 22 Comments

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22 thoughts on “Bhandardara

  1. santosh

    Hey great blog.. keep it up.. looking fwd to many more.

  2. kailas pasari-dhule

    hi santosh this is very best collection,please send to me more attractions. thanks

  3. Prakash Gosavi

    Nice Pics & article on Bhandardara. Could you Please provide information about road from Shahapur to Bhandardara via Ghatghar i.e. State Highway no 44. Is it good motorable road?

    please informe earlier because this weekend we have planned to go Bhandaardara

    • Thanks Prakash.
      I haven’t taken the SH44 to Bhandardara from Shahapur though I’ve thought of it more than once … It didnt seem to be a good motorable road from whatever I’ve gathered from tourist vehicle drivers … everyone seems to prefer the road from Ghoti especially since the road from Shahapur to Ghoti is very good and therafter it’s just 45 mins drive. Do let me know if you happen to take it though and also let me know if the gate for Umbrella Falls at Wilson Dam is open.

  4. saurabh

    As per my knowlege , SH44 does not exists.
    Google Maps showing wrong info.
    At shenva – dolkhamb the road closes and other side of Ghatghar Power plant starts, there is no road which can take to bhandardara or kalasubai.

    • u r right … I haven’t heard of anyone who has gone to Bhandardara via that route … People have just used that road to some extent … but not all the way to Ghatghar. Even on Google Maps if you look closely there is a disconnect in between

  5. Anjali

    Excellent photography ! & description also !
    Just one query is there : are Ghatghar MTDC resort & Bhandardara MTDC resort same or different one ? if different one the how is Ghatghar MTDC resort ? how are arrangements to stay there ? Asking this because going to visit Ghatghar MTDC resort along with our family-friends & small kids are also with us. (gr.of 15-16 people)

    Thanks

    • Thanks ..
      I don’t think there is a MTDC resort at Ghatghar .. the only MTDC resort in the area is the one 20 kms away i.e at Shendi, Bhandardara which is a nice place to stay at … and has options for separate rooms and 12/20 bed dorms as well

  6. Nilesh Suryawanshi

    Hi Nilesh

    You left your commenet in 2010 but as i am planning in 2012 hope lot many things have been changed may be. In this we are around 28 people planning to visit Bhandardara on 16th June 2012 evening till 17th June 2012 night. So i would like your guidence as we checked the availablity for dorms in MTDC but its already full. So do u remember any other option with contact details where we can stay for a night ? If possible please email me the details .

    • hi … sorry I don’t know of any accommodation for that many people … though there are other resorts out there like ‘Yash Resorts’ which is decent for families … there is another by the name of Amit residency just opposite MTDC … but I would not recommend it especially since I have stayed there …
      however – best time to visit Bhandardara is around late Aug – mid Sep when the lake overflows …

  7. Nilesh Suryawanshi

    sorry my name is Nilesh too :)

  8. anil

    Hi very nice photography and information. May I know the ur camera specifications ?

  9. nilesh

    We r planning to visit sandhan vally next week which is near to ratangad,can anyone provide me information about SH44 which is exist or not?this state highway shown on google earth from shahapur(thane) to Bhandardara-Rajur via ghatghar. that we can take this shortcut route to reach samrad village.

    • Hi Nilesh …

      Please do not take that route. You will get trapped at a dead end below the mountain (shown in Maps as Ghatgarh). That part of the SH44 shown on Google Maps does not exist. I will try and put an image on the blog. Please take the usual route upto Bhandardara and then the road next to Anandvan resort to go to Samrad village for start of Sandhan Valley trek.

      Cheers …

  10. mitali harmalkar

    I am really liking your blog! :)
    I am a travel lover myself..and on the other hand I was looking information for a site for my final year Architecture thesis that is related to “eco-tourism” in Maharashtra.
    While going through proposals I came across one to make Bhandardara a major tourist hub in Maharashtra.

    And your post has made me think in that direction..although I am still very confused since we have SO much in Maharashtra which we are not aware of… It would be very helpful if you would be interested in giving your inputs since you’ve travelled to so many spots which we are unaware of(atleast I am)..
    It would mean a lot if you reply! Looking forward to it.

    Thank you so much! :)

    • Hi Mitali,
      Thanks a lot for your kind words. My blog is very crude, but trust me it is honest. I agree that there are a lot of unexplored or rather ignored destinations in Maharashtra which can be decent eco-tourist hubs. One of them definitely is Bhandardara, which has all the ingredients of being a good tourist hub – the lake, the waterfalls, the tall mountains, the 1200 yr old temple, the forts – especially during the monsoon and winter. Sometimes, makes me wonder why the authorities have neglected Bhandardara for so long – bad roads, less no of hotels, ignored tourist spots etc.
      Let me know if I can help you in any way with inputs for this destination or any others, as this is my favourite place in whatever sections of Maharashtra I have seen. The area around Pavana Lake, near Lonavala and also Vihigaon/Khodala are other such less-frequented places.

  11. mitali harmalkar

    Hi Nilesh,
    Thanks so much for replying. Although I’d seen your reply earlier, I had not made my mind as to which site to finalize for my. Then I came back to Bhandardara..and was also suggested by a friend who has visited this place to go and check it out..its very beautiful.

    So now I think I am going this Saturday itself.
    What was making me take so much time to finalize is a thought/doubt if Bhandardara is only the monsoon type location? Or its scenic and with pleasant climate throughout? Because for eco-tourism, the site should be full of scenic beauty most time of the year.
    How do you recommend I go there? Private vehical? I am from Mumbai and planning to go this weekend to see and experience it for myself.
    And sorry if it was too many questions. :)

    Thank you so much in advance. :D

    • Hi Mitali,

      As I said, Bhandardara is a very different destination compared to the Matheran’s and Mahabaleshwar’s that tourists in Maharashtra are used to. It has no “Points”, “Market”, “Resorts” like these destinations.

      If you ask my take on it, it’s more of a place to be visited for different reasons in each season

      Monsoon – Peak season for all the lush greenery and waterfalls. Wherever you go its a tourist magnet.
      Winter – Milder season – there is the serenity of the Lake and surroundings and the biting but pleasantly cold climate. It’s also peak trekking season for Ratangad and Kalsubai and Alang/Kulang/Madan for the adventurous.
      Summer – Mildest season – you just have the rusty look of the terrain and the Umbrella Falls at the Dam. Climate not as hot as Mumbai though

      I would suggest you take a private vehicle to get a better reach. For that matter, I have also been there via train (till Igatpuri) and Rickshaw thereafter :). Take some company with you – the roads can get lonely.

      Have a good and safe trip !

  12. ramdin

    Hi,
    Great Blog,
    I like the way you written the post.
    You written very nice information on Hill stations,
    It will very useful for new traveler.Images are very clean and easy to optimize. I like to visit Bhandardara hill station.
    Thanks for sharing such a nice blog…

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