Friday, 31 October 2014

Lonavala to Bhimashankar trek

Lonalvala to Bhimashankar trek........ I first heard this long range trek route 3-4 years back! I was awstrucked by the distance to be covered for this trek. Initial impression comes in mind will be something crazy thing to do! But I aimed to complete this trek as soon as possible. As usual due to many circumstances I kept on postponing this trek till the rainy season of 2014. Finally all the things placed well and we (Mahadeo, Vinayak, Saurabh, Ganesh , Ajay and myself) agreed to trek down this route. Niyati and Madhu agreed to accompany us till Kondheshwar temple(Jambhavali).

We had studied the route using Wikimapia. Thanks to the person who did this fantastic job!!!! Whole trek route is clearly defined in the Wikimapia. I would advise to follow wikimapia, if you are planning to trek this route.  We travelled the route as given below:

We decided to take first local towards Lonavala from Pune. It was @ 4.45am. Fortunately all the trek members reached to the Pune station in time and we boarded ourself in to the Garib rath of Lonavala :). We reached to Lonavala at 6.15am. Had our breakfast at ST canteen and left for out destination. We followed the route going towards Rajmachi. During monsoon, the route is utterly scenic with lush greenery and flood of water streams.

After walking 2 hrs, you will reach to Y junction where left route goes towards Rajmachi and right one towards Kondheshwar. Follow the right side route. At the end of this road, you will enter into the Valvand village. We had tea break their and asked for the route towards Kondheshwar temple. One grandfather showed us the route and the direction to be taken. We followed the route besides power plant going towards the hill. After climbing small hill, you will see water canal. Walk on this canal till it ends. From their, you need to climb the hill. Route is well trodden from here.

Valvand village

Walk on this canal wall till the end

Canal ends here

After climbing 15-20 minutes trail opens into small ground. We couldn't find the further route. After searching a while finally we got correct route. When you enter into this small ground, follow the left direction. The route is slightly hidden due to vegetation. Once you locate this trail, further journey towards Kondheshwar temple is easy. No more chances of missing the route.

Finally we relieved to see first glimpse of the temple from the top. After 15-20 minutes we reached to the temple. Took the blessing of the Lord Mahadeo. Photo session time extended a bit here :)!!

Our 2 trek members left us to go to Pune again. We followed the route going towards Dhak Bahiri. If you are new to this route, you may find difficulty to locate the correct route. It is advisable to ask the villager about the route. We climbed a small hill and then crossed a waterfall to reach the top of a hill. You can get first glimpse of Dhak Bahiri from this spot. Due to cloudy weather, we were unable to see it. We descended down to the jungle and after walking 10-15 minutes a diversion came. Signboards are installed at this spot to help trekkers finding correct route. Thanks to "Sahas Adventure" group for signboard!!!

Route from hereon is well trodden with marked arrows at few places. After walking considerable distance you will enter into vast plateau. Sometimes you may find difficulty to locate correct route because of multiple cattle trails all over the plateau. If the weather is good you can see tall iron rod/tower installed vertically on the plateau. Follow the direction towards the tower. This tower is installed in the Dhangarwadi which is our next destination.

On the way towards Dhangarwadi

Iron tower in the fog!!! Landmark for the trek route towards Kusur!!
 From Dhangarwadi, , we descended down to tar road (after 30 minutes of walk) which leads to the the village Kusur. We decided to wait for the bus which goes to the Sawla. Whole patch is tar road. It is always better to skip this tar patch. It saves time and energy. We had our snacks and waited for around 2 hrs for bus. We came to know that bus  do not ply to Sawla. Last stop of the bus was Khandi; reason being road construction work in progress till Sawla. It was already dark and we were hungry. We asked some villagers at Khandi to cook food for us. But due to harvesting season, everybody busy with their own activities. We decided to go to Sawla using private vehicle. Luckily we got one and he agreed to take us to the Sawla for Rs. 500. We also requested him to arange some food for us. He took us to the Local Shivsena leader Shobhinath Bhoir in the Sawla. He immediately agreed to help us in arranging stay and food. It was already 8.30pm in the clock. We were overwhelmed by the generosity shown by him. After dinner, we slept in the temple.

Next morning, after finishing morning rituals, we wanted to go to Talpewadi. The kind fellow arranged a private vehicle for us till Talpewadi. It saved our time a lot! From hereon, Vinayak and company helped us in finding the route towards Bhimashankar. Earlier, they did the Bhimashankar trek from Talpewadi. Our next was to reach Wandre khind and then desecend down to Padawadi gaon. If you are new, you may confuse at the initial trail. Always better to ask villagers. After walking 15- minutes and climbing small hill we reached to a big waterfall. Truely amazing!!

After crossing waterfall, we entered into dense jungle. Trail is well trodden. After 30 mins, we reached to Wandre khind. Another 30 minutes required to descend down and reach Padarwadi.

Wandre khind 'V notch'. Snap taken after descending the khind

Padarwadi gaon
We had our lunch and moved towards our destination. Again intial trail is little bit confusing due to cattle routes but we manged to take correct one by the help of villagers. We climbed a hill and reached to a big road. Walked on this road  5-10 minuted and found a sign board with direction stating "Aum Namah Shivay". We followed the route. Enroute we found a big house like structure. Follow the route going besides the house. The route is well trodden with arrow markings at frequent locations. So you will hardly miss the correct route. It was long walk. Once you near to the Kamaljai temple, you will see the well defined trail having rows of stones running beside the route on the both sides. We reached to Kamaljai temple and took blessing of deity.

This area is one of the core of Bhimashankar sanctuary. It would take another 1.5 hrs from the temple to reach bhimashankar. AFter walking considerable distance, we came across the Bhima river. We need to cross it. Initially we thought that it wouldn't be that deep but when we started crossing the river we acknoledged the deepness as well as force of water stream. We searched alternative route which is not so deep. Using human chain, we managed to cross the river. Again after few meter distance you again need to cross the river; but not at all deep. At the second river crossing we came to know that there was no need to cross the river at all. At the first river crossing, a trail goes into the jungle. If we follow it, we will reach at the other end of second river crossing.

1st river crossing

2nd river crossing

It took another 30 minutes to reach Gupt Bhimashankar.

As we approached towards the Bhimashankar temple, we felt sad condition of this sacred place. We found pile of garbage dumped everywhere. Plastic bottles, carrybags, cans etc flowed away with the water which in turn mixed with Bhima river. What a disgusting scenario!!!

When we reached to the temple, it was overcrowded. There was long queue. We took the blessings of the Lord Shiva from outside and went to search for the ST bus for Pune. It was 4.00pm in the clock. It took us 7.00pm to grab a private vehicle which took us to the Manchar and then another private vehicle from Manchar to Pune. We reached to Pune at 12.00am. Frequency of buses at Bhimashankar is real problem. So always prepare your treks taking into cosideration the transport point.

Overall the trek was utterly satisfying!! Har Har Mahadeo!!!!!!!