Dripping wet from head to toe, we stared at the beautiful backwaters of the Bhira Dam. A Stones throw away from a quaint village called ‘Patnus‘ this dam also marked the end of our day long Andharban Trek. The Bhira dam is at the base of the Tata Power station at Mulshi.
Our bus left Chandni Chowk, a landmark on the western side of Pune, towards Tamhini Ghat. Incessant rains had lashed the city and its outskirts for the past 24 hours. The cloud cover was consistent from the moment we left the city. Grey skies meant the sun would stay away for the entire day allowing the rain gods to cast their magical spell, and what a spell it was !
Our bus rumbled to a halt at the outskirts of a small village called ‘Pimpri’. We jumped off and quickly and began our trek towards the Andharban forest. This forest gets its name by virtue of its density virtually preventing sunlight to reach the ground even during the day. Our group of 35 and 4 trek guides started marching through wet fields and a rather slippery trail.
Soon, we entered the narrow trails and came across one of the many streams that cut our path. Like kids, most of us jumped and splashed in the stream with smiles flashing across the face. Quick photo-ops and we were back marching away. The next leg took us to the pre forest stretch. Walking through the rocky-muddy trail with water streams running against us. From trickles to a steady flow, the rain kept lashing down in regular intervals. This did not deter our spirits. Most of the guys had already taken off the rain jackets to enjoy.
Nature in the valley is absolutely enchanting. The flora and fauna in the region especially during the monsoons unravels the beauty nature has to present. Vibrant colors against the sharp contrasting tones of green were pleasing sights to the eye. An occasional sighting of some monsoon crawlies kept us interested. Karvy the towering plant with a slim stem is seen in abundance. It is said to flower once in seven years decorating a beautiful violet flower.
Soon we found ourselves walking through a denser forest area. The cloud cover made the forest look all the more beautiful. The air was filled with a peculiar yet strong smell of flowers and leaves. Dim light penetrating the overhead dense mesh of leaves and branches added a magical touch to the Andharban forest trail.
“The Andharban trek is largely a flat terrain trek with heavy descents from the western ghats to the sea levels town of Patnus”
After a continuous stretch of close to 6 kilometers we encountered our first incline. Around the same time the rain had taken a brief pause. We continued to stride ahead at a decent pace to reach a beautiful waterfall. The sound of tumbling water at a steady pace was like meditation music to the ears. The constant hum with which the water kept flowing was a sight to see. A small wall had created a waist deep puddle. Excited trekkers had made their way into the puddle happily enjoying the cool water.
A couple of kilometers of flat walking and a slight descent brought us down to a small village of “Hirdi”. Neat wooden cottages and mud houses dotted the pathway that led down the trail. Otherwise a silent town, it was abuzz with activity of trekking groups passing through.
Villagers had converted their huts into makeshift eateries offering piping hot cups of tea, roasted corn, Maggi and delicious onion pakodas. We pulled out our packed lunches and quickly polished off the packed parathas with tomato ketchup. Few minutes later, temptation got better of us and we indulged in fresh and steamy plate of Maggi.
After satisfying our hunger we headed for our final descent. The trail turned exceptionally rocky with a steady downward flow of rainwater, making walking down a difficult task. Slippery and loose rocks kept the pace in check. As we continued to descent the rain grew stronger. Clouds that were below us all the while, were now above us. The downpour was steady but it created views that were mesmerizing.
An hour or slightly more of constant descent brought us to one of the most pleasing sights of the entire day. The forest and steep incline opened up to a swiftly running rivulet. Few meters wide and about waist deep in the middle, this rivulet flowed at a strong pace. On a heavy rain day the rivulet turns into a rather mean water body forcing trekkers to use strong hiking ropes to cross it. Villagers had spread tree trunks to create a make-shift bridge. We however, got to see a rather mellowed version of the stream. Kids jumped in and enjoyed the cool waters.
Bhira dam was about ten minutes from the stream and our bus was parked around the corner from the dam. We enjoyed a hearty meal before we left for Pune via the Tamhini Ghat.
Outdoor Ventures, a popular trekking group from Pune, was instrumental in co-ordinating our trek. As always, Nikhil was at his best supported by Bhushan, Aditya and Sanket.
A huge shoutout to fellow trekkers Nikhil, Aditya, Tanmayee, Suraj, Shivam, Pooja for their pictures.