Located on the banks of River Pravara, Bhandardara is a hill station nestled in the Sahyadri mountain range in Maharashtra. According to a legend, sage Agastya meditated here for a year. Pleased with his penance, gods blessed him with a stream of River Ganga, now known as River Pravara. Bhandardara is crisscrossed by trekking trails and dotted with forts. The famous Mount Kalsubai, the highest peak in Maharashtra, is a favorite among trekkers. The trek to the 200-year-old Ratangad Fort is also popular as is the trek to sixth century Harishchandragad Fort. Blessed with lush greenery, Bhandardara is also a popular stopover for tourists travelling to Nashik and Shirdi. The Arthur Lake and Wilson Dam are the most famous tourist attractions here. The monsoon season paints the entire hill station green and various waterfalls break out from the hills. This is the best time to witness the sheer beauty of Bhandardara. While it is best to trek to the place, you can also drive down here as it makes for the perfect weekend getaway from cities like Mumbai, Pune and Nashik. Enjoy nature’s bounty in Bhandardara which still retains its original setting as it isn’t as commercialised as other hill stations in the state. Here’s everything you need to know about Bhandardara.
Bhandardara is accessible by road and rail from different parts of Maharashtra. It is a village in the Ahmednagar District and does not have an airport of its own. The best way to reach here is by either train, bus, taxi or your own vehicle. The hill station is 185 km away from Mumbai, 161 km from Pune and 72 km from Nashik. Since the distance isn’t much, you can either take a cab or drive down to it. Many state-run buses also ply from different cities and you can take one of these as they will be cheaper than a cab. If you plan to take the train, you will have to alight at Igatpuri railway station which is 35 km away from Bhandardara. From here you can make use of public transport to reach the village.
SIGHTSEEING ATTRACTIONS IN BHANDARDARA
Bhandardara is a lovely hill station for somone who needs a quiet getaway. While it is a known trekking destination, there are quite a few sightseeing options too in Bhandardara. The Arthur Lake, Wilson Dam, Umbrella Falls and Randha Falls are a few places one must visit here. Apart from its scenic beauty, Bhandardara has its share of historical places too. If you are a history buff, make sure you visit Ratangad Fort. Amruteshwar Temple and Kalsubai Temple are the known temples in this hill town. Here’s everything you need to know about the major sightseeing attractions in Bhandardara.
Photograph courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Formed from the water of River Pravara, Arthur Lake is a reservoir of the Wilson Dam. It is surrounded by hills and forests and makes for a great camping spot. Go for a boat ride in the evening or swim in the lake. Arthur Lake is a key attraction and makes for a beautiful backdrop for pictures.
Another very popular attraction in Bhandardara is Wilson Dam which is one of the oldest dams in the country. It is built on the Pravara River at a height of 150m above sea level. It is an apt picnic spot for families as well as couples as it has a swimming pool and circular garden at its base. Two waterfalls also cascade down the dam during the monsoon.
Standing tall at a height of 1646m, Kalsubai is the highest peak in Maharashtra. Thanks to this achievement, it is called the ‘Everest of Maharashtra’. Many people trek to this peak to admire the breathtaking view from here. Many adventure groups also organize treks but remember it is not a easy one so may want to skip it if it is your first time trekking.
When you go to Mt Kalsubai, don’t forget to pay Kalsubai Temple a visit. This shrine is dedicated to a local deity by the same name. She was apparently a maid who ran and came where the temple is to escape her tormentor. But she disappeared soon after. Later, the villagers built a temple for her in her memory and pay their respects till date. There is even an annual fair organized near the temple and locals and tourists flock here to pray.
Waterfalls in Bhandardara
The hill station has many waterfalls and two most popular ones are Umbrella and Randha Falls. Umbrella Falls are at Wilson Dam and you can see its might in the monsoon. Randha Falls cascade from a height of 170 ft and make for a beautiful spectacle during the rains.
Amruteshwar Temple is dedicated to Shiva and is 8 km away from Arthur Lake. It is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by peaks. The temple is believed to be over 1200 years old and is carved out of stone. It was constructed by the Shilahaar family. Do pay a visit to this temple when in this hill station or just visit to admire its architecture that still stands strong even today.
Photograph Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Located near the MTDC resort, Ratangad Fort was captured by Shivaji and is over 2,000 years old. The fort offers a bird’s eye view of the hill station and has a natural rock peak called ‘eye of the needle’. There are four gates in the fort and wells too. In order to reach the main fort area, you need to climb up two ladders.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BHANDARDARA
Bhandardara has a few good accommodation options but not too many as you’d find at any other popular hill station. But this also means that you will not find too much crowd here which is a blessing as you can enjoy some moments of solitude when here. Bhandardara has budget and mid-range accommodation that have basic amenities and some of the best views from the rooms. Here are a few places you can stay in when in Bhandardara.
MTDC Holiday Resort is one of the most popular accommodations in the hill station. It offers clean rooms that are affordable. But don’t expect anything fancy as the rooms are very basic and meant for just sleeping in as opposed to a resort where you can expect more facilities. The resort has 34 rooms, cottages and dorms and overlooks the Bhandardara Lake. It also has a restaurant that serves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. You can book a room using the MTDC website.
Wanderlust Resort is an upscale property in Bhandardara that has recently opened up. It has 10 rooms that offer lake, garden and mountain views and a restaurant serving vegetarian fare. You can visit the various sightseeing attractions and enjoy a stay in its quaint setting as well. The contact details aren’t available and you will have to book a room online via travel portals.
Anandvan Resort (09920311221) is a mid-range hotel offering good rooms and amenities. They even have a buffet spread in their restaurant and the location is perfect for relaxation.
Hotel Amruteshwar (08806644930) is a budget accommodation with simple rooms and cheap food at a nominal price. If your idea is to be out sightseeing the whole time, this place is good for you to dump your bags and crash at night.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN BHANDARDARA
Most resorts in Bhandardara have their own restaurants many of which even serve non-vegetarian food. While Bhandardara is not really known for its food, you will find some local restaurants that serve primarily Indian cuisine among others. Here are some places where you can grab a bite when in Bhandardara.
Panch Sheel restaurant is near the MTDC Holiday Resort and offers both veg and non-veg fare. While it serves Indian and Chinese cuisine, it is known for its chicken dishes. A meal for you will approximately cost Rs 550 for two people at Panch Sheel.
Coffee Dam Corner is a place to go for evening snacks and tea. The cafe has a non-descript ambience but the food does all the talking and both locals and tourists flock here in the evening in large numbers. It is near the ST Bus Stop and serves amazing chai, bhajia, pakodas, etc. A meal for two at Coffee Dam Corner will cost you about Rs 300.
NEARBY PLACES FROM BHANDARDARA
Bhandardara is a village but it is close to many cities and is well connected to them via rail and road making it easier to explore them too on the same trip. If you want to escape to other places after seeing Bhandardara, here are a few places you can visit that are not too far away from the hill station.
Nashik is only 72 km away from Bhandardara and you can reach here in a bus or private vehicle. The city is mostly known for its vineyards and a few religious places around it. It makes for a great weekend getaway any time of the year. You can sip wine sitting across vineyards, take a tour to learn how it is made and have dinner at one of its many restaurants. On the other hand, you can also pay a visit to Shirdi that is a couple of hours away from Nashik. The city also has abundant natural beauty.
Igatpuri is merely 35 km away from Bhandardara and is in fact the closest railhead to the hill station. Buses, taxis and autos ply to the station regularly. It is too a hill station and is known for its climate and greenery. Igatpuri also has a Vipasana Centre where people come to learn meditation. The hill station has many private bungalows that are given on rent by owners either with a caretaker or as a homestay. There are also many hotels and resorts here. Igatpuri makes for a relaxing weekend getaway.
The city of Pune is 161 km away from Bhandardara and has all the trappings of a buzzing city life. From pubs and nightclubs to shopping malls and resorts, you will find everything here. Thanks to the en number of universities and company campuses, the crowd here is mostly young. Pune has a lot of traffic too and most people ride a bike or scooter here. On the outskirts of the city you will find a calmer atmosphere and natural beauty. Pune is a happening city and if you like the vibe of a busy city, do check out its nightlife. Pune also has monuments of historical importance that are worth seeing like the Shaniwar Wada.
Another metro city that doesn’t stop ever, Mumbai is known for its fast-paced life but the city has many gems that tourists can explore when here. From beautiful buildings from the British Raj to newer structures like the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. From street shops to high-end boutiques and from street food to gourmet restaurants, Mumbai has everything. Depending on what and how much you want to see, you will need a weekend or even a month to explore the city to its fullest. Marine Drive, Gateway of India, Chowpatty are a few most popular attractions in the city. With the Bollywood industry set here, you can also see homes of famous stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan.
Right on the border of Maharasthra and Gujarat is a hill station called Saputara. It is 153 km away from Bhandardara and the distance can be covered in about three hours. The hill station is pretty developed yet not extremely commercial yet. So, you can expect some crowd here but it probably will not be as crowded as some of the hill stations in the state. Saputara’s main attraction is its natural beauty in abundance and biodiversity. It has lakes, sanctuaries, gardens, hills and a panoramic view of the region because it is 1000m above sea level. Don’t forget to go for the ropeway ride to get a bird’s eye view of the hill station.
Author: Kriti Saraswat-Satpathy