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Old 25th October 2013, 12:58   #1
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Default Bhimashankar & Khandamal: Mystic, Misty Getaways

Bhimashankar is a mystic place, known for one of the Jyotirlings of Lord Shiva, and located some 3 hours north of Pune. From what a few office colleagues were telling me about the place I decided that is where I would begin my 8 day tour in the Dasara holidays with my wife and kid.

Next obvious question: - How shall we get there and back? Satara to Pune was being reported bad by many T-BHPians so it was 50-50 for quite some time in my mind on whether to drive or not. Finally, some 3 days before departure, my wife decided I would not drive as bad roads are guaranteed to give me bad moods, and 6 return tickets were confirmed that night on IndiGo, to/ from Pune/ Bangalore. I booked a cab from Clear Car Rental online for 8 days (9th thru 16th Oct 2013) to take care of all drives.

Day 1 (Wed, 9-Oct-13)
Our flight was fit for the lazy riser, scheduled to leave by 0950 hrs. So after some good sleep, and a 1 hour drive, and another 45 min of formalities, we were on board. The flight took little over 1 hour and I could see the printed flying time had been kept smartly wide enough to let the airline easily declare an arrival well ahead of time. But as we had landed at Pune almost 30 min ahead of schedule, I had to spend that time following up with our driver- to- be, and battling my hunger (I discovered a cup of tea was priced around INR 50+ at the airport, surely not for me!

The car arrived by 1200 hrs. Clear Car Rental had messed up my booking a bit in that I had asked them for a Mahindra Logan (estimating our baggage needs), but they informed me the previous night that they did not have a Logan free and would give me an Indigo at a reduced cost to which I had little choice but to agree with some anxiety. Fortunately, the Indigo seemed spacious enough to hold our bags without anything big sharing our seats.

First, the pit stop. Some 1.5 km from Pune airport is a fine dining vegetarian restaurant (Sree Krishna, Viman Nagar), where I had been earlier on a previous visit to Pune. A fixed meal costs INR 165/- there (yes, a bit pricey for the office goer), but that would keep you tanked up for another 5 hrs. Once that was done, some mineral water bottles were picked up from a neighboring store and we were soon on the Pune- Nashik highway, heading for Bhimashankar. The highway has one toll point before you branch off to Bhimashankar, and in top condition. We first touched Chakan on the highway, known for a lot of big industries like Bajaj and Mahindra, next continue to reach a place called Manchar, from where we need to leave the highway to reach Ghodegaon, a small town, where the road sort of forks into two, one leading to Bhimashankar and the other to Shivneri, the birth place of Shivaji. All roads were largely in good to top condition, except a few short bad stretches here and there, especially inside the towns.

Our plan was to halt at Blue Mormon resort for the next 2 nights. I had called up their manager over phone from Bangalore and he confirmed back our accommodation over e- mail. The resort is easily located with the first signboard some 20 km before their place, and the next one just telling you to leave the highway, and drive inside for 2 km. All through the drive, I could see lush green surroundings. You get a good view of the dam across river Bhima along the drive.

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Blue Mormon is well isolated from the highway that itself had hardly any traffic on the day we were there. I had asked for a cottage near the reception, and they gave us a really spacious one for 5. So I had 3 beds for myself, with some shivering at nights in the first bedroom, while my wife and kid grabbed the cozier inner bedroom. Here are some pics of our cottage and around it.

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We decided to head for Bhimashankar temple in the next 2 hrs. Fortunately the temple is open till 2030 hrs, and perhaps longer on festival days. So after some home- made Idlis and Real juice tetra packs had been downed, we started off. The temple is around 10 km from Blue Mormon, and the drive was amazing, with mist all around the forest. The temple itself is located in a forest area.

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It is the mist that makes it all as the pics show. The mist covers all areas, including the temple, and it is a great feeling descending down the steps through all the mist as the pic here shows.

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The path is lined with a dozen shops many of whom prepare fresh Peda (milk sweet) made by boiling milk for ever right before your eyes. So be sure to take your kids along. We had a fast darshan as that was off- season time, and headed back after purchasing some fresh Peda for my kid. The temple is well maintained, although some of the surrounding spaces around seem like they are in need of renovation and uplift.

I had originally planned to trek around Bhimashankar forest, and there are official guides willing to take you for something like INR 250/- per group, and I strongly recommend this to any adventurous readers. Sighting of the Sheru (Giant squirrel, and Maharashtra's state animal) is quite likely, these forests being its headquarters. But with my wife being unwilling for any arduous trek, it was change time again, and that night we decided on Khandamal forest (just off the road to Bhimashankar temple), and next to Shivneri (birth place of Chattrapati Shivaji), some 100 km from where we were.

Day 2 (Thu, 10-Oct-13)
Post a fairly good breakfast at Blue Mormon, we started for Khandamal forest. To reach that place, drive towards Bhimashankar temple, and just before the MTDC guest house on that road, there is a clear signboard where you branch off to the right. The branch road is rather narrow, but in good condition at the time we went. We had taken one local guide with us, but after the visit I felt this guy had hardly anything to show us that we could not have discovered for ourselves. Anyway, the branch road was simply beautiful, lined all along with yellow welcoming flowers like the ones here.

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Khandamal forest also is nature rich and misty. A couple of falls (small drop heights, but enticing all the same) were nice spots to relax.

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We then drove to the temple where my wife wanted to see the spring from which river Bhima is born. The spring is located just some 20 metres off the steps to the temple, and in a true forest surroundings.

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Having had our fill of the temple, our next destination was Shivneri fort, some 100 km from Blue Mormon. We decided not to waste time having lunch at the resort, and drive straight to Shivneri. We dropped the guide at the resort, and got going after some freshening up. The route we followed was Blue Mormon to Ghodegaon and Ghodegaon to Shivneri. Our driver always kept searching for the shortest rather than the good road on this drive, running over some bad patches as a result that fortunately did not leave us stuck. After some 2 hrs we stopped in the town below the fort for lunch at a veg hotel. Food was reasonably okay by town standards.

Shivneri fort is reached first by car that take you to the steps starting point, and from there onward it is a test of your energy level to climb up some 500 steps or so to the top. Do remember to take along some fruit juice tetra pack(s) and water with you else you may find it really tough, especially if you are used to car driving all the time. Entrance is free, and the path well maintained, thanks to the Maharashtra government's efforts. For those who are more adventurous, there are steeper (and riskier) climbs at places, that used to be followed in the king's time. The fort's steps were designed for both horse and man as seen here.

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One wishes the Maharashtra government thinks of providing audio guides at all such forts for people from outside, who otherwise can be cheated by local guides hanging around these forts.

The whole climb and long walk to Jijamata's palace on top takes nearly 2 hours. The armour plated doors here used to be closed by 5 PM sharp during the king's days. A massive rock outcrop is seen here.

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Jijamata's palace is at the far end of Shivneri fort, and is where Chattrapati Shivaji was born. The room where he was born is seen here. We could see his cradle as well inside, but photography was impossible even with the flash on, thanks to the door's grill blocking the lens.

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After some wandering around, it was time to get back to the resort. We got back to the car in an hour, and headed back to the resort. On the way we stopped by a place called Ozhar (known for Vighneshwar, one of the 8 Vinayaks, or Ashta Vinayaks) in Maharashtra. This beautiful place also has a large lake with boating, but we had reached there by 7 PM well after all boat rides had closed. Once we had our darshan and dinner, it was time to head back. We were in our cottage by 11 PM. Phew!

Last edited by DrVjy : 28th October 2013 at 15:29. Reason: Continuing post
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Old 29th October 2013, 16:19   #2
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Default Re: Bhimashankar & Khandamal: Mystic, Misty Getaways

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 2nd April 2014, 12:58   #3
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Default Re: Bhimashankar & Khandamal: Mystic, Misty Getaways


Any updates on places you went after Bhimashankar!?
I am planning a trip this weekend.

Interested in knowing places you might have checked out on this trip following Bhimashankar.

Nice pics & thanks for sharing!


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Old 12th April 2014, 20:47   #4
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Originally Posted by driverace View Post

Any updates on places you went after Bhimashankar!?
I am planning a trip this weekend.

Interested in knowing places you might have checked out on this trip following Bhimashankar.

Nice pics & thanks for sharing!


Oh, I am sorry for this ridiculously late reply and by this time I guess you are back from your trip to Bhimashankar. Hope it went off well. I am on vacation since 30 Mar 2014 and could not get to reply to you in time, with very occasional check of my mails and TBHp posts. Do update with your travelogue anyway.
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