Monday, 8 June 2015

7 'MUST-VISIT' PLACES AROUND PUNE DURING THE RAINS!

By Jayesh Paranjape

With the monsoon setting in, the Sahyadris surrounding Pune change colour and convert to a green haven. Hit any road going out of the city and within 20 minutes you are in paradise – lush green forest patches, waterfalls, rice fields and foggy & misty ghats. 


Photos: Vidyuth Singh
Here is our list of 7 'Must-Visit' Places Around Pune During the Rains. These destinations are perfect for a Sunday drive, a monsoon trek or probably a whole weekend away from the city! 

1. MULSHI


The Mulshi Lake | Photo: Vidyuth Singh
Just 40 km on the west of Pune, Mulshi is perfect to spend a rainy day with friends and family, eating kanda bhajis, bhutta and sipping on masala chaai. To reach Mulshi, from Pune, just take the road from Chandani Chowk via Pirangut, Paud and continue on the Mulshi Dam Road. The area is surrounded by the rugged mountains and forests of the Sahyadris and during and post monsoons, the area becomes lush green. Personally, the most striking feature of the area during the monsoons, are the numerous small and big waterfalls along the road. The Mulshi Lake in all its grandeur is visible throughout the road journey. During weekends, the area gets crowded, so the best way is to park your vehicle on the road and just walk your way to the lake and explore a new place. 

Mula River downstream from the Mulshi Dam | Photos: Vidyuth Singh

2. TAMHINI GHAT


The Kundalika Valley at Tamhini Ghat | Photo: Dhananjay Kulkarni
If you keep driving beyond the Mulshi Dam, you would pass through Tamhini Ghat. This road further meets the NH-17 (Bombay-Goa Highway) at Mangaon. The drive is through extremely dense and rich forest areas and plenty of waterfalls and is definitely worth an extended trip. Recently around 50 sq km of this area was notified as a wildlife sanctuary. Tamhini is wildlife heaven - birds, reptiles and amphibians in particular. Also worth a visit is the Kalika Mata mandir located inside a 'devrai' (Sacred Grove). If you venture a bit into the forest behind the temple, you might be lucky to see the rare Giant Squirrel!


Chai - The official drink of monsoon! | Photo: Sameer Tendolkar

3. TIKONA FORT



The stunning view from the fort | Photo: Dhananjay Kulkarni
Situated in the Maval region, around 50 km from Pune, Fort Tikona gets its name due to its triangular structure. Built at around 3500 feet above sea level, the hill and the fort makes for an easy trek. The well-marked trail goes past caves, temples, large doors cut into the rock surface and a massive vermillion Hanuman bust cut into the rocks with the devil, Panvati, under his feet. The final ascent called the Shivaji’s Trail, is through steep steps, but with steel ropes and railings to hold on to make it an easy climb. A few ruins of the fort along an algae-filled pond and a temple dedicated to Trimbakeshwar Mahadev is all that is there to discover on the top, but the vast Pawna reservoir and the spectacular view of the nearby forts of Tung, Lohagad and Visapur are totally worth it. 


The unusual Hanuman bust enroute Tikona | Photo: Dhananjay Kulkarni


4. AJIVALI DEVRAI


The walk to the Ajivali devrai is through numerous streams!Photo: Vidyuth Singh
Located near the Pavana Dam around 50 km from Pune, the Ajivali Devrai (sacred grove) is known for its astounding variety of flora and fauna. After Kolvan village near Tikona take a left turn which goes towards the Tung Fort where there is a small mud road which ends at the Ajivali village. The devrai is accessible through a beautiful hike from the village. The climb to the devrai is through numerous waterfalls and stunning views of the Tung, Tikona Forts and the Pavana lake. The devrai also has a temple dedicated to the Vaghjai devi who is believed to be the guardian of the forest! 


Typical Ajivali setting | Photo: Vidyuth Singh


5. MADHE GHAT


Madhe Ghat Waterfall | Photo: Anagha Bodas
Madhe Ghat is a place located around 70 km south west of Pune, bordering the Raigad district. It is in the vicinity of Torna Fort, Rajgad, Raigad Fort, and the backwaters of Bhatghar dam. To get to Madhe Ghat, hit the Mumbai-Bangalore highway (NH-4) towards Satara. At the Nasrapur phata take a right and follow the road to Velhe village and then to Kelad village. Madhe Ghat is about 850 m above sea level and situated in dense forests behind Torna Fort. This unknown gem is getting popular by the day for the superb views of the valley and one particular waterfall which drops for almost 400 feet into the Shivthar River in Konkan. The place has an interesting historical fact attached to it. When the Maratha warrior Tanaji Malusare died in the Sinhagad battle, his funeral procession was to taken via Madhe Ghat route for the last rites in his native village Umrathe near Poladpur.


Madhe Ghat | Photo: Anagha Bodas


6. BHIMASHANKAR


Gupt Bhimashankar | Photo: Preetal Chaudhari
If you are looking for a weekend getaway filled with patches of untouched evergreen forests coupled with some religion and culture then Bhimashankar is definitely the place to go. Bhimashankar is situated in the Sahayadri Hills and is just about 120 km from Pune city. The easiest way is to drive along the Pune - Nashik highway and take a left at Manchar and just follow the road leading to Bhimashankar. 

Once you have reached Bhimashankar, you first choice of place to visit by default would be the Bhimashankar temple. Built in the Nagara style of architecture, the temple dates back to the 18th century. It is one of the twelve ‘jyotirlingas’ (A shrine where Lord Shiva, is worshipped in the form of the lingam of light) in India. The temple is situated right in the heart of the forest and if you go beyond the temple along the river bed, and tolerate some amount of garbage on the way, you will enter the beautiful forest which is a part of the Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary was notified in 1984, primarily because it is among the very few forests in India which support a thriving population of the endangered and elusive giant squirrel. Known as ‘shekru’ in Marathi, the giant squirrel is also the state animal of Maharashtra. If you are lucky, you will be able to spot the beautiful giant squirrel particularly on the Gupt Bhimashankar trail behind the temple. Extremely shy the animal can be spotted due to its long bushy tail. But before it is seen, the giant squirrel is often heard. So keep your ears open for the animal’s loud repeated rattling call, which sounds like a firing machine gun! Apart from the shekru, the forests of Bhimashankar also offer excellent opportunities for spotting birds, reptiles, butterflies, plants and sometimes mammals like the barking deer. 



Giant Squirrels at Bhimashankar | Photos: Aniket Sayam
A small climb up from the parking lot and you at the Nagphani point, looking at the breathtaking surrounding mountains of the Sahyadri ranges, this is the highest peak in Bhimashankar. The uphill climb is totally worth the efforts and just cannot be described in an article. You need to experience it. 


The descend from Nagphani Point in Bhimashankar | Photo: Ameya Kolhe

7. MALSHEJ GHAT


Malshej Ghat | Photo: Saruvam
A charming hill station, placed at an altitude of 700 m above the sea level and famous for its numerous lakes, cascading waterfalls, and charming mountains, Malshej Ghat is a favorite tourist destination of hikers, trekkers, adventurers and nature lovers. It is at a distance of 130 km north of Pune. Though Malshej Ghat is beautiful throughout the year, monsoon brings an amazing charm to this place. During monsoons, the beauty and charm of Malshej is visible when it is under heavy fog and dark clouds. Close at hand is the Shivneri Fort, which is famous as the birthplace of Maratha king Shivaji. 

The monsoon is expected to hit Pune and around by mid-June! So take a pick and head out to experience the beauty of the Sahyadris! If you want to join a group and make new friends, join The Western Routes on our Monsoon Excursions, almost every weekend which start by mid-June and go on till September! More updates on our Facebook page or our website - www.thewesternroutes.com

3 comments:

  1. *Check out this list of the top travel destinations in India.*

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  2. Nice post on various places to visit near Pune. Pune is the 2nd largest city of Maharastra. It is the cultural capital of Maharastra. It has pleasant climate and is spiritually rich. The tourist places in Pune are popular among visitors and Pune is a famous weekend getaway..

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