The Andharban Trek in Maharashtra: An abundance of Nature
Maharashtra is blessed to have the Sahyadri Range, home to many amazing hills, trekking trails & ancient forts. The Sahyadris offers some really great options for not just experienced trekkers, but complete beginners as well. If you are someone who loves hiking in the rain and exploring the outdoors, a day hike in the Sahyadris during the monsoons will be the perfect option to spend the day with friends and family. The rain makes everything look beautiful. There is greenery all around, with clean and fresh air. The vibrant colours of nature, add charm to the beautiful green valleys and hills of the Western ghats of the Deccan Plateau.
During the last monsoon season, I finally ticked off one of the famous treks around Pune, the Andharban Trek from my Sahyadri Trek Bucket list. I had seen some amazing pictures and heard stories about the Andharban trek from my friends. When my friend Suchit came up with a plan to do this trek, I was 100% game for it. Having been on treks to various forts such as Irshalgad and Vichitragad, this trek was a little different as we would be walking through a forest. We signed up for this trek with Adventure Pulse, my trusted partner for treks in Sahyadris as well as the Himalayas.
Some quick information about the Andharban Trek.
Distance from Pune: Around 75 km
Start Point: Pimpri Village
End Point: Bhira Dam
Trek Distance: Approx. 13 km
Best time to do this trek: June to October
The word ‘Andhar’ literally means ‘Darkness’ and ‘Ban’ means ‘Forest’. True to its name, the trail takes you through a dense dark forest. Andharban trek is a hike through a dense forest with thick overgrowth, beautiful views of waterfalls, streams and the Tamhini Ghat along the way. The trek begins at an elevation of 2,160 feet and descends down into the valley, to reach the backwaters of the Bhira Dam where the trek ends.
We started our drive to Pimpari village in a bus organised by Adventure Pulse. Once we crossed the city area and moved through the Mulshi District, we could see the entire valley covered in fog. We stopped at a highway restaurant to have breakfast.
We reached Pimpari village around 9:30 am. Adventure Pulse trek leaders Samir Patham & Sauraj Jhingan introduced us to their team and gave us a detailed briefing about the trek. The team had also carried packed lunch for the group as there are no facilities of restaurants or kitchens during the trek. The weather was pleasant and everyone was excited to hit the trail. We followed a trail passing through the paddy fields and soon entered into the forest. The entry inside the forest is based on a permit issued by the ‘Forest Department’. The Adventure Pulse team had obtained the permits in advance so our group was allowed to enter after a preliminary screening at the check post near the start point.
The almost flat trail with occasional ascents took us inside a dense forest with lush green trees all around. Everything looked so fresh and green. The landscape reminded me of scenes from the movie ‘Avatar’. Though it is a defined trail, some parts were tricky to cross because of mud and puddles after the rain. Also, the trail had many small streams flowing down the hills. At some points, we had to use ropes to cross as the flow of the streams was strong. The Adventure Pulse staff helped us throughout the way and made sure we negotiate the difficult stretches safely. We took breaks in between to rest and admire the mesmerising views of the Kundalika Valley. The surrounding mountains were covered in mist and occasionally, the sun rays passing through the dark clouds created a surreal view.
The walk was very refreshing with the soothing sounds of bird calls as well as streams & waterfalls in the distance. There were plenty of streams and natural ponds on the way. Some of us took a plunge in one of the ponds and enjoyed swimming under the gushing waterfall. We had a couple of families with kids in our group. It was great to see the kids get excited every time there was a stream to cross or a new waterfall to dip their hands in.
We reached an open area which was covered with beautiful flowering water lilies on one side and a valley on the other, with a narrow trail passing through it. This was the most beautiful spot on the entire trail. We clicked a lot of pictures. At around 1:30 pm, we took a short break for lunch. The energy levels were up again and soon we found ourselves at the Hirdi village. As we crossed the village, the descending trail merged to form steps made of huge stones. As it had started to rain, walking on the steps were a little difficult. The group members helped each other and with continuous encouragement from our trek leaders and guides, we all managed to complete the trek by 4:30 pm. We spent some time near the backwaters of Bhira dam and then started our return journey to Pune.
The trek was tiring because of the long-distance, but it was a refreshing experience to spend some time in nature, away from the hustle & bustle of the city pollution. I met some really amazing people on the trek and it was great interacting with fellow trekkers. This was probably the cleanest trekking trail in the Sahyadris. I would definitely recommend Andharban trek to anyone who is looking for an easy day hike option in the Sahyadris.
Some points to note:
1. Hiring a guide or Trek operator
I would strongly recommend doing this trek with a good trek operator. Though the trail is defined, it is always better to do this trek with a group and under the guidance of experienced trek leaders and guides. There were few sections where Adventure Pulse team set up ropes which made crossing the streams safely. Also, the Adventure Pulse team had organised this trek end to end from Pune including the pickups, transportation to and from Pune with breakfast and packed lunch included. The team was extremely helpful and made every effort to make the trekking experience comfortable for us.
The start and endpoint for this trek are two different locations. The distance between the start point Pimpari village and endpoint Bhira dam is almost 22km and there isn’t any availability of taxi or shared vehicles. The network availability in the area is limited.
3. Food and Snacks during the trek
There isn’t any food joint or facilities for lunch or snacks on the trail. Adventure Pulse had organised breakfast on the way and also provided us with snack boxes with an energy drink. I would recommend carrying some trail snack such as energy bars, chocolates and dry fruits. Make sure you carry at least 2l of water as it is a long walk of around 13 km. I always carry Tang or Glucose powder to keep myself hydrated.