The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail

Tripoto
25th Aug 2018
Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan
Day 1

Andharban derives it's name from the words "andhera" and "ban," which mean dark and forest. As the name suggests, Andharban is a forest in the Sahyadri ranges of Maharashtra. During monsoons, there is a thick cover of fog and the added cover of trees ensures it is relatively dark even during the day.

The Andharban trail is famous among the regular travellers of Mumbai and Pune, and is among the easy level trails out there. I wanted to visit the place during the monsoons last year but my schedule never cleared up, so when I got the opportunity I immediately signed up for the trip organized by Tattva Adventures. I was aware that the group I had been to Visapur with last week - The Climbscapers were also organising an Andharban trail with a similar itenary on the same day as I was to leave, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we were traveling together and for all practical purposes it was as good as a jointly planned event.

I got into the bus hired for the trip from Nerul at 1am. I met Jaal(co-founder of Tattva) and he told me that the organizers of 4 different groups - Tattva Adventures, The Climbscapers, Adventure Geek and Sahyadri Rangers, decided to combine their events because of lack of participation. The alternative was all 4 events getting canned. I was delighted to know that and also due to the happy coincidence of meeting some people I met last week and another guy I met during my trek to Bhimashankar a few weeks back.

I got comfortable in my seat, got acquainted with the people who were awake and without much delay we started a few rounds of antakshari, sing alongs and eventually charades. We reached our destination, Tamhini Ghat at around 4 and were instructed to get a few hours of sleep because it would be a 7-8 hour long trek.

I couldn't get enough sleep and woke up a short while later. I got off the bus and went to look around the place we stopped. Jaal was outside talking to the owners of the place and so I went and joined him. They were talking about how a new accommodation facility was built. We asked if we could look around and they accepted.

Adjacent to the national highway, the Shivraj Palace Resort was absolutely luxurious. Outside the entrance to the resort is a spacious lawn. We walked into the hotel and there was a huge courtyard in the centre surrounded by 8 large and luxurious studio rooms. The ones facing the ghat would have an exquisite view of the waterfalls right outside their balcony. Unfortunately it was dark when when we went there and I could not see this for myself. I joked to Jaal that this should be the venue for the next mafia night, and was in for yet another pleasant surprise that he was thinking about the exact same thing. Achche Din(good days) are going to come after all!

The newly built accommodation facilities

Photo of Tamhini Ghat, Tamhini Ghat Road, Gonawadi, Dhamale Wadi, Maharashtra, India by Vignesh Ramanan

Entrance to the resort

Photo of Tamhini Ghat, Tamhini Ghat Road, Gonawadi, Dhamale Wadi, Maharashtra, India by Vignesh Ramanan

We left the resort and went to have breakfast. For the first time in my 9 treks, there were options for breakfast(usually there is only poha and tea), this time around we could choose from misal pav, poha, egg bhurji, idlis and medhu vada. I don't eat much before and during treks because I tend to get lethargic, so the choices were rather wasted on me. I loaded up on caffeine and we set off for the jungle.

Dense fog at the time we got done with breakfast

Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan

The entrance to Andharban was about a kilometer ahead. We walked the distance along the national highway and went in through a small entrance to our left side. We walked a little further until we reached a patch of plains and had the official introduction round. We were told that the route might be slippery at certain places, in some streams the force of flowing water might be too high so extreme caution was advised and that under no circumstances we were to wander away from the group without informing the 4 leaders.

Beginning of the trail off Tamhini Ghat

Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan

Introduction Round

Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan

With the introductions done and dusted we ventured into the wilderness. We came across a sign board hung up by one of the Home Stay service providers in the nearby villages which welcomed us to Andharban. There were two forest rangers stationed here to ensure nobody enters the jungle without prior permission and without a competent guide. This is the forbidden forest after all. Our papers were in order and the trail officially begun.

The entrance to a stress free zone

Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan

Scenes like these are what makes me come back to the wilderness every other week

Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan

Human Chain to get everyone to the other side

Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan
Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan

We were blessed with just enough rains such that it didn't hamper our walk and also made our journey pleasant. The winds were chilling and the fog enhanced both the aesthetic appeal to the place and my experience (my general body temperature is higher than usual and so I enjoy the cold more than others). The trail was as long as we were told it would be and almost all of it was beautiful and serene.

Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan
Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan

Our trail ended just where the Bhira dam was located. This dam is fed by rainwater and is used for generation of electricity. The water released from the floodgates once a day which flows downstream to a place called Kolad and river rafting activities are conducted on the Bhira river during that time.

Water stored by the Bhira Dam

Photo of The Forbidden Forest - Andharban Trail by Vignesh Ramanan
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