Photo Feature: Bhandardara

Gopal Lahiri

By Gopal Lahiri

Bhandardara: The Green Paradise

By Gopal Lahiri

Bhandardara is a place that defines restrained opulence. There are mountains, lush green meadows, serene lake and magical waterfalls- and it all seems casually thrown together by the nature in a most perfect way. It’s extraordinary landscapes justly attract hordes of visitors. This paradise, nestled in the western ghats, is located just 185 km from Mumbai.

The approach road to Bhandardara wasn’t great and we could reach there with a few hurdles. Once you reach there, the breeze from the beautiful Arthur lake is really soothing. Lake side camping was terrific in this dreamy village and once we were on the boat for cruising on the lake, the arresting sight of the surrounding cliffs almost demanded to be climbed and kept us to ourselves.

The lake gets its water from Pravara river through Wilson dam. The dam was built in 1910 and was at the height of 150m.What a sight! The cascades of water flows through once the sluis gate of the dam get opened. Shadows of various kinds converged on the valley, ringing their own verbal music, unsung harmonies.

A few unknown birds acquiring pleasing shades about their beaks, gapes and legs and showy filamentous plumes on the head were squabbling over a tiny fish with harpoon like beak ready to lash out. These bird cries, these voices of water losing to the rocks below, these playful times rolled into the humming of silence in the forest.

There was water. And if you were not on it, you were in the woods. Everything around us was water, stone or wood. The sun painted a white line. Long runs of basalt did split the forest into two. The Lake was lined with basalt and Ratangad fort was at a distance. The magic engulfed the Amriteshwar temple also and we are told by the locals that it was built by Pandavas in a single day.

The Lake was hemmed with green shrubs. The sky was reconstructed with cloud patches I had never seen before. We could stare at the Kalsubai mountain (1646m height), the Everest of Maharashtra, views from this lonely corner all day long.

Here you just see an endless landscape of green hills of Sahyadri, creasing and rippling away to the horizon. It’s an amazing destination for trekking through the forest to the hill top. Umbrella Falls and Randha falls were roaring even long back after the monsoon.

Bhandardara is certainly has one of the best settings, overlooking the lake in this rocky heaven with challenging trekking paths to the hill top Even the epic photos don’t quite prepare you for this place with its encircling mountain greens.

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