Andharban (dense dark forest) trail is a remarkable experience to indulge in the Sahyadri mountain ranges. The journey is full of surprises. You start walking through the paddy fields in Pimpri village to finally reach the Bhira dam after 6 hours. Exhausted and tired, all you can ask for is good food and some rest!
With hardly any ascent, umpteen waterfalls on the way and breath-taking views, this is definitely the best trails in the Sahyadris. The air is pure and the trail is clean. You will not find any plastics, paper or waste on the road. You can hear the soothing sound of waterfall every now and then. And, even in cloudy weather, the forest is not as dark as they say it is! What can add to your experience is a little drizzle and cloudy weather. Forest trails, hikes or trips to lakes are great on wet days. Especially the waterfalls are spectacular as the water flows at full capacity.
Praful and I went on this trail with an Explorer group. Our guide Ajay had arranged everything including travel from Pune to Andharban and return, breakfast on our way to Andharban and lunch after the trail. He also made arrangements for us to change out of wet clothes after the trail.
Our bus started from Pune at 5:30 AM, picked up all group members on the way, stopped at a roadside restaurant for breakfast, and finally reached Pimpri village (starting point) at 10 AM. The moment, we got down from the bus, it started raining. We started our descent from the paddy fields in Pimpri village. Heavy rains lashed the place during our entire journey. Due to rains, water started flowing through the road on which we were descending. We walked through the water and rain was pouring down heavily on us. No windcheater or raincoat could have saved us from getting completely drenched that day! The only negative point of our trail was, due to dense fog, we couldn't enjoy the stunning views from the top.
The interesting point about this trail was - there were a couple of times when we had to cross a water stream to get to the other side. The water flow was extremely high and crossing the stream was an extremely risky venture. Our guide tied one end of the rope to a strong tree bark and the other end over his chest and then crossed the river first. Once he reached the other side, we all crossed the river using the rope as a support.
Finally, after a 13 km walk through the lush green forest, we reached the end point - Bhira Dam.
ONE HELL OF A JOURNEY!!!
Tour Guide -
You need a local guide who can show you the way. If you are going in a group of at least 5-6 people then hire a local guide or else you can join a group that arranges treks from Pune or Mumbai to Andharban over weekends. A local guide will charge you R. 1200- Rs. 1500 fee irrespective of the number of people. Whereas a trek group changers somewhere around Rs. 1200- Rs. 1500 per person. This cost includes commute, breakfast, lunch and guide fee.
We would highly recommend you to join a trek group for 3 reasons
The start point and end point of the trail are 22 kms away by road. Unless you have a driver, you don't have any option to commute from the end of the trail to the starting point to get your vehicle. You end up meeting likeminded people and making friends. There is no mobile coverage during the trail. It is safer to travel in a group.
Food Options: There is no lunch/ snacks facility available once you enter the forest
During the trek, you pass through Hirdi village. The locals there can arrange lunch, snacks, and tea if you inform them at least one day prior to the trek. We would not recommend this as it didn't look hygienic. If you go with a trek group, they usually arrange for lunch in a nearby village after the trail. You must carry snacks if you have a habit of munching throughout the day. Things to Carry
Snacks - Energy bars, dry fruits. biscuits, plum cakes etc. Water Bottle (2 Litres Compulsory) Extra Pair of Clothes and a towel Rainwear or Winter wear - As per season Personal Medication / First Aid Kit Toiletries - Facewash, tissue paper, hand-sanitizer etc (Optional) Slippers/ Floaters (optional - Shoes might get wet during the trek.) Plastic Bags - To keep wet clothes
Best Time to visit: The best time to visit any place in the Sahyadris including Andharban is during monsoon - June to October
Few Snapshots from our trip: