If you are living in the city of Mumbai or any of the surrounding towns, then a quick getaway over a long weekend becomes a must, to escape the chaos and madness of the urban jungle. Maharashtra is known for quaint little places spread across the state, where one can rent a car in Mumbai and go for a quick day trip or unwind for a couple of days. One such destination for a weekend getaway is the resort village of Bhandardara.
Nestled in the scenic district of Igatpuri, Bhandardara developed as one of the best and less commercial hill stations of Maharashtra. The village is home to the state’s highest peak, Mount Kalsubai. Embraced by natural lakes, waterfalls, flora and fauna, Bhandardara is the best retreat for the mind, body and soul.
How to reach
The village of Bhandardara sits amidst the rustic ambience of Igatpuri, about 158Km from the city of Mumbai. You can drive down NH3 to reach the town or hire a cab for the weekend. There are also train services along Mumbai-Nashik rail road, which halts at Igatpuri Junction, which is about 45Km from bhandardara. You would need to hail a state bus or book a cab from there.
Best time to visit
There’s one ground rule about visiting the hill towns of Maharashtra: visit when the weather is cooler. And the best seasons of the state are undoubtedly monsoon and winters. That is when Bhandardara opens up to tourists in its full glory. So, if you are planning a trip, make sure you visit post monsoon, between the months of August to November, when the nature engulfs itself in all possible shades of green. Or, to experience the chills and colder temperatures, you can visit in winter months – between December and February.
Top 5 sightseeing options
The complete charm of Bhandardara lies in its water bodies, verdant natural surroundings and the historic forts. If you’re heading to Bhandardara from Pune, we highly recommend booking a car rental in Pune so you can explore all these spots at your leisure. Here’s top 5 places to visit in Bhandardara:
Wilson Dam: Built in 1910, this is the oldest dam ever built in India. The sluice gates controls the flow of the Pravara River, on which it is built, and thus renders a great view from the top. The dam area is also adorned by a garden at the base, around the river, where you can sit and enjoy the surroundings or take a leisurely stroll.
Arthur Dam: Shrouded by dense foliage of the Sahyadri Mountains, this calm and clear lake makes for perfect camping site, hiking trails or a ferry ride.
Ratangad Fort: All forts have their share of history and so does the 400 years old Ratangad Fort in bhandardara. It is said that the great Maratha ruler, Shivaji, had captured this fort from its intruders of his time. The naturally formed rock fort, tapers upwards in a narrow spire and is known as the ‘Eye of the Needle’. Step up the rocky elevation of the fort to experience the breathtaking views of the Sahyadri Range.
Kalsubai Peak: The highest peak of Maharashtra and the highest point on the Sahyadri Mountains, Mount Kalsubai stands tall at 5,400 feet from the sea level. Most travelers opt for a trek along the surrounding hills and reach the closest point. Do ensure that you have the right trekking gear and are well prepared for a toiling journey, since the terrain and elevation is challenging and physically demanding.
Randha Falls: The water-bodies of Maharashtra are in abundance and at their best during the rains. If you visit bhandardara in monsoon, then the Randha Falls is a sight you cannot miss. As the roaring Pravara River gushes down in torrents, down a 170 feet gorge, it creates a sight and sound that encapsulates the entire surroundings – a moment to cherish in solitude and capture forever.
Though most frequented by tourists, Bhandardara has still not lost its appeal and still remains a cherished retreat for the urban crowd. Just make sure you land there at the right time of the year and it can be the most magical place you would have seen. In fact, Bhandardara serves as a popular pit stop for those travelling from Pune to Mahabaleshwar by road!
If you are also planning to explore Pune, you can book a cab from Mumbai to Pune and make a pitstop at Bhandardara.