Sometimes you just need to take off, leaving the mundane loud city behind to visit a place that’s peaceful & serene; a place, that’s ideal for relaxation and offers you some real family time.
Rested high up in the hills, Bhandardara at 2800 feet above sea level is one such hidden wonder. Still untouched with a charming atmosphere and the lush green hills makes it a perfect weekend getaway from Mumbai, Pune and Nashik. Bhandardhara offers you pleasant weather across the year and the air is clean and fresh.
The Journey itself is relaxing and quite scenic especially just after the monsoons. Much before reaching Bhandardara, the grandeur of the Sahyadri hills is visible at every turn and the hills get greener and thicker with every passing kilometer.
Legend has it that Agastya Rishi fell in love with this serene place and meditated continuously for a year, living only on water and air. Lord Shiva was pleased with his tremendous devotion and thus blessed Rishi Agastya by leaving behind a stream of Ganga – now known as Pravara River.
I had visited this place almost 18 years back, when it wasn’t even famous, yet it took my breath away with its natural beauty and what makes me happy is that the place hasn’t changed much and that’s what makes it so special and a must on everyone’s list looking for solitude and complete relaxation.
Places to See
Wilson Dam: It was many centuries later that the Wilson Dam was built in 1910 on the Pravara River. It is 150 meters above sea level and the construction took over 16 years to complete. The dam was created to channel the Arthur (Bhandardara) Lake’s water for power generation. And as the water got routed, it created beautiful walkways and has shaped up many waterfalls, making the area perfect for picnics. At some spots you can experience the surprise water sprays that hit the ground below and enjoy the coolness.
A boat ride at Arthur Lake is quite relaxing and a must do.
Umbrella Falls: These falls are the most attractive of all but are created only during heavy monsoons when the dam gets opened to release excess water, yet offers beautiful surroundings that makes it a good picnic spot.
Radha Falls: Located just 6 kms from the Wilson Dam, Randha falls (named after a nearby village) offer an exceptional sight, as it falls from the height of 45 meters and can be heard from a distance.
Ghatghar Dam and Konakan Kada Sunset-point (23 Kms) It is a photographers spot offering a great view of the Wilson Dam and the majestic Sahayadri hill ranges.
Amruteshwar Temple: Believed to be built in 1100 AD, this temple is more than 1000 years old and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Made of Black gravel stone, it was constructed by the ‘Shilahaar’ family who ruled over Maharashtra in 900 AD.
The temple carvings are intricate but deteriorating fast due to rains. A fascinating fact of the temple is that the Shiva linga inside is always submerged in water, no matter what the season! Located at the base of Ratangad, Ghatghar and Samrad – the entry point for Sandhan Valley trek, the temple offers lovely natural surroundings. You can reach by road (15 Kms)or take a boat ride offered by the locals or getting it arranged by the resort itself.
There is also a beautiful open Jal-Kund beside the main temple and kirtans are held during the morning and evening prayers.
Places to Stay
MTDC Bhandardara may be the cheapest with moderate facilities, but it has the best views and the rooms open towards the lake, making it the most preferred place to stay. Tariffs: Deluxe Room (1500) AC cottages (2500 INR).
Eating Out: If you haven’t yet, do stop over enroute for some delicious Maharastrian delicacys called Misal Pav (a spicy gravy of pulses garnished with onions served with pav bread) and pack up extra Vada Pav for tea time later.
Relish tasty Maharashtrian Poha, Upma and Sheera for a perfect wholesome breakfast and the hotels would offer you a mix of North-South Indian styled cuisine. HotelSonali and HotelVaibhav are located close to the MTDC resort and serves rice-plates (veg/non-veg). HotelYashanjali inside the MTDC resort and HotelKaka in the Bhandardara market. Hotel Panch Sheel located nearby too serves up decent Chinese and Indian cuisine. Coffee Dam Corner is at the Bus Stop and is recommended for its hot potato bhajiaas with tea! Fish lovers can enjoy fresh fish caught from the lake and the MTDC restaurant serves yummy ‘Fish curry and rice’.
Take a right turn on NH3 after passing the Ghoti toll gate. From the Ghoti toll gate its about 30kms ahead. From Navi Mumbai: Drive on the Nashik highway and take a right from the Ghodbunder bridge at Thane (towards the Lodha and Rustomjee properties) and proceed towards Bhiwandi bypass for Thane.
Road Directions from Nashik: Take NH3 towards south upto Ghoti and then turn left. Continue on Ghoti-Bhandardara road for around 23 kms and take a slight left onto SH44 till you reach Bhandardara
Road Directions from Pune: Take Pune-Nashik road (NH50) upto Ghargaon. Take left on SH12. At Kotul SH21 turns slightly left and becomes SH44 that takes you upto Bhandardara.
Best Route: Pune-Narayangaon-Ozar-Otur-Brhmanwada-Kotul-Rajur-Shendi(Bhandardara)
IMPORTANT NOTE: There are NO FUEL STATIONS in Bhandardara, so make sure you fill up the tank before you set out.
For those coming in/out of Mumbai, Oye Punjabi is just 30 mins from Thane and around 1 hour from Navi Mumbai. With a typical Punjabi Pind, the place has private water well and grows its own vegetables. The menu has authentic Punjabi food like Amritsari Chana-Bhatura, Dal Makhani and a plethora of parathas to choose from.
Another option is to stop over at Bhagat Tarachand, a pure veg. restaurant that offers great food and is located approx 80 kms from Mumbai, just before Shahapur. For lunch you could halt at Manas Resort-Igatpuri or the Prestige food plaza.Distance from Major cities:
- Mumbai to Bhandardara: 185 kms
- Pune to Bhandardara: 176 kms
- Shirdi to Bhandardara – 110 kms (via Sinnar)
- Nashik to Bhandardara – 65 kms (via Ghoti)
By Train: Igatpuri, 45 kms from Bhandardara is the nearest rail track and a cab can be hired for 500-600 INR. State run Transport Buses (not recommended for weird timings) and other private taxis (shared basis) can be opted for those traveling solo. The Tapovan Express leaves Dadar at 6:25 AM daily and reaches Igatpuri at around 8:45-9:00 AM.
Best Time to Visit: October-May While Monsoons offer numerous waterfalls and the hills are lush green, Bhandardara can be visited throughout the year as weather conditions are cool with temperatures at a high of 29 degrees even in peak summers.