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A Day out at Wilson Dam & Arthur Lake, Bhandardara

''Arrange for a camp taking help of locals and stay overnight on the island''

LOCATION : Nestled among the Sahyadri Hills, Bhandardara is village located in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. It’s at a distance of about 70 kms from Nasik and 185 kms from Mumbai.

GETTING STARTED : Bhandardara sits by the Pravara River and is a good blend of natural beauty, waterfalls, lakes and mountains. We had heard a lot good of the place through friends and so decided to make it on one Sunday. As legend has it, Shri Agasti Rishi meditated here for a year, surviving only on water and air.

It was the month of March and to ease travel and avoid traffic we left early morning. The drive to the place was itself very picturesque along green paddy fields with spectacular view of western ghats all along the way. Wind mills in white could too be seen at a distance, some moving while some standstill making the drive more enjoyable.

Fog was covering water bodies falling on the way thus giving them a more serene and calm look. It took us about 1.5 hrs to reach Bhandardara from Nasik by car. The roads were well metaled and cut across the lofty mountains giving a spectacular view of the ghats. Overall the drive was good except for a few rough patches that we encountered when near Bhandardara.

Being Sunday, vegetable mandi was being laid when we entered the village and so, it was quite a task to drive through. However, starting early from Nashik saved us from getting stuck for long. People start to gather in large numbers only after 10am.

TREKKING DOWN UMBRELLA FALLS : What caught our attention most were the umbrella falls formed under Wilson Dam, built in 1910. We were awestruck by the boisterous beauty of these milky white falls set in midst of dense greenery. They were loud and scary. We gathered courage to stand by the fence and all we could feel were water droplets and cool wind blowing on the face. It was the best place to relish cooked Maggi we were carrying from home.

We started trekking down the falls to reach the point where it met the river and explore more of surrounding places. The trek was manageable and offered picture perfect scenery with hills encircling the lake. And finally, we were in the garden endowed with thick greenery, streams and gigantic trees. The walk by the river was beautiful and worth reminiscing. However, be wary of the security persons around as photography is prohibited in that area.

After quite a lot of walking we decided to halt at the only dhaba in the area. The lady served us with some real good and refreshing lemon grass tea that helped us gather energy to trek back to the parking space.

BOAT RIDE AT ARTHUR LAKE : We were too tired to explore more adventure and it was only by chance we thought of taking a last look of the place before departing. And later we thanked god for doing so. Boat ride on placid and blue waters of wondrous Arthur Lake is a must. The lake gets it water from the Pravara river and is bounded by thick canopied forests of the Sahyadri hills. The place wasn’t crowded at all and so we rented one boat for four of us for Rs 800. The cost involved going, coming and an hour stay at the island. We started around one in the afternoon; however, boat rides are open even as late as 7pm.

The boat ride is enjoyable and offers spectacular view of the surrounding hills. The view enhances in the evenings with sunset. We were on the Island in 40 mins and forgot all worries and tiredness seeing surrounding tranquil blue waters. It was a good place to camp overnight indeed. Independent camping in and around Bhandardara Dam is also quite common and enthusiasts from Mumbai and Pune regularly camp along the banks of the river. Ask the boatmen or local authorities and they will guide you how to go about it. However, make sure you are in a big group if camping to ensure safety.

After having good time in water whilst admiring neighbouring natural beauty and hills, we started to head back. All we were left with - memories to cherish for lifetime. Be careful with your belongings and make sure you don’t leave anything out there. Next time, we would go camping for sure at the location.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS : Randha Falls: About 10 km away from Shendi Village are the Randha Waterfalls where the roaring River Pravara descends down from a height into a beautiful gorge. Monsoon is the time to get best sight of the falls.

Mount Kalsubai: It is the highest peak in Maharashtra and the starting point of this challenging trek is Bari Village, located 12 kms away from Bhandardara. Atop, there is a small ancient temple.

Ratangad Fort: Is about 22 kms from Shendi/ Bhandardara and is connected by both road and ferry. This ancient fort was one of Shivaji’s favourites and houses numerous water cisterns and caves. One can also trek up this fort.

Harishchandragad Fort: It is another nearby mountain hiking spot with ancient temples on top.

Anandvaan Resort: Boasts of both hill and lake views.

Agasti Rishi Ashram: Situated on the bank of the Pravara River, the ashram continues to attract visitors.

GETTING THERE : Bhandardara is easily accessible by road from Nasik, Mumbai and Pune. The nearest airport is in Mumbai, while Igatpuri has the nearest railhead. Regular buses are available from the mentioned cities to reach Bhandardara, or one can also hire a taxi to reach the destination.

BEST TIME : The ideal time to visit would be between November and April. But, the place is spectacularly beautiful during the monsoons when waterfalls can be seen at their best. Cool cottons for summers and warm woollens for winters are ideal.


Source / Review By : Pramugdha Mamgain Nautiyal

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