The long yet magnificent drive towards Bhandardara is a perfect precursor to the destination itself. Once you get off the highway and turn right on the road that leads to the little-known town via Ghoti, all traces of civilization vanish slowly. Lined with thick, ancient trees on either side, the road meanders past the countryside. And just when you start wondering if you missed a turn somewhere, the ascent uphill begins. The road leads to a forgotten, rustic town that makes a perfect getaway from the monotony of city life. There are no five-star comforts here, no fine dining. What you get instead is a healthy dose of clean air, greenery and wonderful, awe-inspiring natural beauty.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Bhandardara is suitable for all kinds of tourists. For adventure lovers there are ample walks to take, sights to explore and peaks to scale. And for the laid-back visitor, there is the option of cozying up in a chair with a book, or taking a leisurely walk by the lake. You can also bring your line and tackle along and find a suitable spot for some angling.

There are jeeps available at the village square in Shendi, just 3 km away, to take you on a tour of the predetermined points of interest around Bhandardara, but a better idea is to set your own itinerary and take the hired jeep only to places of your choice, or just hop on and off the many jeeps that ferry locals from one village to another. In addition, there are local guides that usually hang around the MTDC resort, who are willing to show you around for a nominal fee: the best choice if you have a car and driver at your disposal.

Bhandardara Lake

Also called Lake Arthur Hill, this vast body of water was created when the Wilson Dam was built across the Pravara river. The gigantic Wilson Dam, built by the British between 1910 and 1926 to provide irrigation, is one of the country’s oldest and stands at a height of 492 ft. During the monsoons, when the water levels increase, the overflow gates are opened, creating two massive cascades of water that gush down to the rocks below. Several water channels unite to form one enormous waterfall, popularly called the Umbrella Falls because it creates an illusion of a huge canopy of water. A picnic area at the foot of the dam is the best place to admire the falls.

Courtesy MTDC
The secluded and serene Bhandardara Lake
The secluded and serene Bhandardara Lake

Randha Falls

Drive 10 km downstream, enjoying the wonderful scenery and clement weather, to arrive at the roaring Randha Falls. The Pravara river plunges 170 ft down into a gorge, creating the third largest waterfall in India. A footpath (quite steep in places) leads down to the pools below. Be careful as the currents in the pools can be strong.

Angling

The lake offers great opportunities for anglers. With just the right combination of patience and luck, you may secure yourself a good catch. Boats are not allowed on the lake so casting a line or spoon fishing is the way to go. The pools at the bottom of the two falls are also great fishing spots. However, the dam is out of bounds.

TIP There are no petrol stations in Bhandardara, so tank up in advance

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

MTDC Holiday Resort (Tel: 02424-257032, 257171; Tariff: 1,100-4,400) and Anandvan Resort (Tel: 257320, Cell: 09920311221; Tariff: 20,000-1,00,000 for 3D/ 2N) are by the lake. Yash Resort (Tel: 257031, Cell: 07738772775; Tariff: 5,400-12,300) offers a mix of modern amenities and rural experiences.

There are very few options for eating out in Bhandardara. The local staple of varan bhat (dal-rice) is easily available but can be spicy. Some tandoori and nonvegetarian food is available but should be ordered in advance. The regular Maharashtrian fare of usal pao, misal pao and vada pao are easily available. The area is famous for a sweet peda that you will find being sold everywhere. Fresh sea-food is a good choice at MTDC’s Yashanjali Restaurant.

When to go September to February. March, April and May can be very hot and dry Location Bhandardara sits by the banks of the Pravara river, near the highest peak in the Sahyadris, Mt Kalsubai (5,400 ft) Air Nearest airport: Mumbai Rail Nearest rail: Igatpuri

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

MTDC Mumbai

Tel: 022-22044040

W maharashtratourism.gov.in

Bhandardara

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Shendi

Bhandardara

Tel: 02424-257171, 257032

STD code 02424

Harihareshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Harihareshwar

Near Kalbhairav Temple

Tel: 02147-226036, Cell: 08879222040

STD code 02147

Ganapatipule

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Holiday Resort

Tel: 02357-235248, 235061-62

STD code 02357

Kunkeshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Tarkarli

Tel: 02365-252390

STD code 02364

Vengurla

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Project Office

C-Block, 1st Floor, NH17, Oras

Sindhudurg

Tel: 02362-228785, 228115

STD code 02366

 

THE INFORMATION

Kaas Plateau

Tourist Information Centre

Forest Office

Dy Conservator Of Forests

(Satara Division)

Old Treasury Office Compound,

Powai Naka, Satara

Tel: 02162-220058/59

W kas.ind.in

STD code 02162

Tadoba Tiger Reserve

Wildlife/ Forest Dept Office

Chief Conservator of Forests

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Rambag Colony, Mul Road

Chandrapur

Tel: 07172-251414, 255980

W mahaecotourism.gov.in

STD code 07172

Kamshet

MTDC, Karla

Tel: 02114-282230, 282064, 282102

STD code 02114

Toranmal

MTDC

T/1, Golf Club, Old Agra Road, Nashik

Tel: 0253-2570059, Fax: 2579352

W .mtdcindia.com

STD code 02566

Melghat Tiger Reserve

Chief Conservator of Forests and Field

Director

Melghat Tiger Reserve, Camp Amravati

Tel: 0721-2662792, 2551766

STD code 0721