Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bhandardara near Pune

Bhandardara a remote village area, nestled in peaks of Western ghats, is lesser known tourist spot outside Pune. By road it seems to be closer to Nashik
rather then Pune or Mumbai.

Until reaching Bhandardara I wasnt very sure of its worthiness, initial plan was for overnight stay at Bhandardara spend 2/3 hours and then drive towards Malshej ghat.

Infact until Ale Phata, town near Malshej ghat, locals didn't know exact directions for Bhandardara which was supporting & adding onto my apprehension. But was also encouraging that we would be able to get overnight accommodation because it seemed lesser known and well known places were fully booked even before starting from Pune.

After a long 4 hours drive we started seeing signs for Bhandardara and also could see landscape gradually transitioning from dry and brown to pleasant green.
Drive after Rajur, town just before Bhandardara, changed drastically from green farmlands to mountainous terrain.

Weather was bright, sunny and clear i.e perfect for photography. Though dry trails of waterfalls on the far mountains meant lesser interesting views, but some places did have gushing waterfalls.

Speelway gate was first impressive offering of Bhandardara which immediately cleared my apprehension. Very impressive Civil engineering work to control very active water reservoir.

Since we still had to hunt for overnight accommodation, we rushed past Speelway and grudingly compromised onto poorly equipped Hotel Aishwaryam due to time constraint, location of overlooking Bhandardara Dam reservoir and biggest of all its proximity to MTDC Bhandardara resort.

Umbrella falls of Bhandardara dam near Pune in India

After confirming our booking, we drove back down to base of Bhandardara Dam and enjoyed a small track to overpowering Umbrella falls. Havent seen such strong
Waterfall upclose. Turely captivating sight of HUGE dam and STRONG waterfall.

We went back to Speelway gate, enjoyed the panaromic view along with savouring the Vada Pav and hot cup of tea. I was now convinced that visiting Bhandardara was right choice.

Randha falls of Bhandardara dam near Pune in India

Randha falls, our next stop, has beautiful twin strong waterfalls. Best view is enjoyed by 10 minutes walk to the tip of the cliff, where both falls can be
seen and merging into surprisingly tranquil stream. Top view of waterfalls easily reminds one of Grand Canyon.

On Sunday, inspite of hectic Saturday, we managed to complete our breakfast and start by 9:30 am. After unhappily paying entry fee of Rs 110.00 we started
our drive through preserved area towards Harishchandra garh and Kalsubai.

Panjre falls of Bhandardara dam near Pune in India

Rustic Panjra village had uncountable waterfalls and took us almost 30 mins to drive through a very small village. Unlike yesterday it was raining steady and
too many. Omen of good journey ahead.

Kalsubai, highest peak of Maharashtra, and nearby peaks were all covered by mobile clouds but driving around them revealed rich craftmanship of nature.

Konkankada spot of Bhandardara dam near Pune in India

KonakanKada was our next stop a great location overlooking a dam, thankfully clouds sparsed enough for us enjoy the sight.

Amruteshwar Temple of Bhandardara dam near Pune in India

Amruteshwar Temple, of God Shiva, is impressively located near a pond and surrounded by hills. Very peace instilling location.

50 kms of loop took us three long hours because of indescribable beauty of nature and countless waterfalls acting as magnet; forcing us to stop, drench and
absorb in the flow.

Bird near Bhandardara dam near Pune in India

Malshej, 80 kms from Bhandardara was our next stop, took about 3 hours to reach. Mainly due to backroad drive and the battered roads. Banana, Wheat, Brinjal
and numerous other farms along the routes are worth driving the route.

Cauliflower farming near Bhandardara dam near Pune in India

Around 3:30 pm we reached Malshej, after a quick refreshing break at Atur town. Malshej ghat was covered by thick clouds with visibility of bearly 5 meters.

Route is very narrow and heavy trucks and buses plying on it could easily prove fatal so we had to turn quickly around for safety reasons.

Though nothing like Bhandardara dam, Pimple Joga dam was pleasing with birds flying around and fishing.
Highway 222 connecting Ale phata to Kalyan, is already my faovrite route to drive around.

Click for more Photos

My video capture of Bhandardara on YouTube:

Randha falls Video

Bhandardara waterfalls Video

Kalsubai mountain peak Video

Umbrella waterfall Video

Konkankada Site Video

Nearby Places to see:

Malshej Ghat, Pimple Joga dam, Nashik City, Ojhar and Lenyadri Ashtanvinayak Ganpati temples, Shinveri fort at Junnar, Bhimashankar temple

From Pune its about 200 kms, takes about 4 hours due to single lane Nashik Highway (NH-50). After crossing Manchar and reaching Narayangaon, make sure you ask villagers the directions for Bhandardara.
Malshej ghat is 40 KMS after turning left from Ale Phata, which is NH 222, Bhandardara can be reached both ways either continue straight from Ale phata (NH-50) or by taking left towards Malshej continue right and then turning right on reaching Autr town ( about 20/30kms) on NH-222