Igatpuri usually brings to mind a railway junction. Or, in a kinder analysis, a tiny town where some people take a vow of silence for many days at the renowned Vipassana Centre. However, it has all the trap pings for a pleasant break. At a height of 2,000 ft, it’s cooler than Khandala all round the year, guarded by tall green hills that sometimes hide their heads behind lazy mists.

In the rains, Igatpuri’s hills and river valleys burst into many shades of green, with busy streams and brisk waterfalls. The town itself takes a backseat to this side-show. Igatpuri is just a dot of civilization, on the very edge of a huge, breathtaking canvas that was meant for us to gape at and to figure out, on a Saturday evening perhaps, that life goes on. Silently.

Punit Paranjpe
The wide expanse of Bhatsa Dam surrounded by greenery
The wide expanse of Bhatsa Dam surrounded by greenery

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Igatpuri gives you two choices: you can do absolutely nothing, have a massage and, of course, eat in between. Or you can explore fascinating valleys, roll around a few times on the bright green grass, search for unnamed waterfalls and get wet.

River Bhatsa and Camel Valley

On your way to Igatpuri from Mumbai, less than 3 km from Manas Resort, which has become a landmark in this region, is the Bhatsa River Valley. Situated in the valley of the Bhatsa river, this stunning place is covered in lush vegetation and majestic rocks, which have been shaped by the force of the river current.

A few hundred feet before you reach Manas Resort is Ghatandevi Mandir, dedicated to the goddess of the ghats. The temple will be to your left as you approach from Mumbai. To the right of the highway is one of the most spectacular sights in this region – Camel Valley. It’s easy for the uninformed to miss this awe-inspiring valley. You have to walk over and look down to find a slope that drops over 1,000 ft. During the monsoons a waterfall cuts through the rocks in a violent descent. Near this spot are a few mini plateaus that can be easily traversed, which offer their own unique vantage points.

Igatpuri’s Waterfalls

In the rains, Camel Valley is full of waterfalls, some are majestic and easy to spot, others are harder to see. Keep walking and you will find about five or more, hurtling over the rocks, making their way further into the valley. A railway track also cuts across this valley.

Courtesy Vipassana Centre Dhammagiri
Manicured grounds at the Vipassana Centre
Manicured grounds at the Vipassana Centre

Tringalwadi Fort

About 6 km from Manas Resort is Tringalwadi Fort that attracts trekkers chiefly during the rains. In the monsoon, the farmers of Tringalwadi grow their crops over what is essentially a rough motorway that leads to the base of the fort. So, in the rains, vehicles cannot travel the last 3 or 4 km towards the ancient fort. But there is a narrow pathway for a nice, rather wet walk, down to the calm Tringalwadi Lake that looks a trifle more beautiful from the fort. A few kilometres away from Tringalwadi Lake is Talegaon Lake, created by the small Talegaon Dam.

WHERE TO STAY

Manas Resort (Tel: 02553-301111, 244030; Tariff: ₹5,500–15,000) offers a stay in cottages plus restaurants, a pool and a kids’ play area. Dew Drops Boutique Retreat (Cell: 09892374542, 08879997781; Tariff: ₹2,700–3,300 per person) has luxury villas, a pool and a multi-cuisine restaurant.

Manas Lifestyle Resort (Tel: 244512-13; Tariff: ₹6,000–13,500 with meals), on the Mumbai-Nashik Highway has an Ayurvedic spa and a gym, restaurants and a swimming pool. Golden Resort (Cell: 092701- 37278, 09209602995; Tariff: ₹2,200– 4,000, dorm ₹8,000, with meals) faces a hill and has a restaurant, pool and a kids’ play area. The dorm is let out for a group of minimum ten people. Hotel Ashwin (Tel: 243624-25, Cell: 09225126814; Tariff: ₹2,500–3,000) is right on the highway. Ganaka Motel (Cell: 09820867755, 09225455478; Tariff: ₹750–1,250) is a cheaper valley-facing option.

WHERE TO EAT

It is best to eat at one of the hotels; Manas Resort and Golden Resort are two decent choices, with Indian, Chinese and Maharashtrian cuisines. Manas Lifestyle Resort has three multi-cuisine restaurants. Ganaka Motel’s eatery offers Maharashtrian cuisine and snacks. It is also a popular en route halt on NH3.

FAST FACTS

When to go June to February, but avoid October

 Tourist Office

MTDC Nashik, T/1, Paryatan Bhavan, Govt Guest House Premises, Near Golf Club Old Agra Road, Nashik, Tel: 0253-2570059; Fax: 2579352, W maharashtratourism.gov.in, STD code 02553

GETTING THERE

Region Khandesh & Nashik

Location A tiny town about 1,900 ft above sea level, embedded in the Western Ghats

Distance 46 km SW of Nashik

Route from Nashik NH3 to Igatpuri after taking the third exit on Dwarka Circle in Nashik

Air Nearest airport: Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport at Mumbai (140 km/3 hrs) connected by flights from all over the country. Taxi costs approx. ₹3,500–4000

Rail Igatpuri Railway Station

Road A good drive over the Western Ghats on NH3 via Kasara Ghat.

Bus Plenty of Volvo buses ply to Nashik from all major cities in Maharashtra. From Nashik, Igatpuri is just an hour away