Walk through this green channel
If it's the monsoon, and you can't get enough of wanderlust, head to Bhandardara, as the rain gods fire their last salvo over this rugged, picturesque section of the Sahyadris. Itinerant photographer Ritesh Chedda has captured this riot of green; how many shades can you spot?
If you’re a foodie in search of local fare, you’ll be disappointed. There isn’t much to offer in Bhandardara, as far as restaurants or eateries are concerned. Kiosks outside some of the attractions are not the safest bet unless you are in warrior mode. We suggest you head to a home stay or some of the chai tapris (tea stalls) away from the bustle that whip up a mean bhajia platter and onion-laced poha.
The lemongrass-flavoured tea is another must-sample. A word of caution here, the place is pretty much a one-horse town, so stock up with provisions, snacks and other essentials before you head to Bhandardara.
While in Bhandardara, don’t miss the usual spots for your R&R. There’s the imposing Wilson Dam and Lake Arthur, another must-visit.This apart, you can chart your own jungle trail around the many plateaus and hills, a visit to the Randh Falls (11 km away; avoid weekends) and an arduous trek atop the 5,400ft high Mount Kalsubai (en route), which is the highest peak in the Sahyadris. Unless you are a hardcore mountaineer, avoid this trek in the monsoon.
The Ratangad Fort, which is about 22km by road, is perfect, if you dig adventure and history. Throughout you’ll lose count of the tiny seasonal waterfalls that feed the Pravara River. Our suggestion? Don’t leave without getting your feet wet.Experience
Driving down to Bhandardara is your best option. Located 177 kms from Mumbai, take the Mumbai Nashik Highway via Ghoti. The detour road off the main highway is a 32 km uneven stretch that makes for quite a trek, despite it being a tarred road. Smaller vehicles might not withstand the grind, especially in wet weather so plan, accordingly.
An aerial view of Bhandardara that shows terrace farms dotted by a few settlements
Along the way, look out for stunning vistas and rain-blessed green pastures, with farmers tilling the soil and cattle grazing idly against the backdrop; you’ll spot the odd rainbow and soak in loads of fresh air, as it invigourates the senses. For those who prefer to board a train, hop on to any Igatpuri-bound train. This railway station is 45 km away, and is the nearest railhead.
A late afternoon frame of Lake Arthur in all its sun-kissed glory
Bhandardara offers a limited set of options from the state-run tourist department accommodation that has the best location to the high-end option at Anandvan. Book in advance, especially if you’re planning a weekend escape.
>> Maharashtra Tourism (2284 5678)
>> Anandvan Resort (09920311221)
>> Yash Resorts (7738772775)