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Old 20th June 2017, 15:02   #1
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Post Pune to Bhandardara Drive

But where to with my limited driving skills?

I recently got my car (a Kwid1.0L - March) and post that successfully cleared the Licensing exam in June (yet to receive the card though). Memories of the trip to Mahabaleshwar are still active, which was accompanied with a harrowing experience of my car getting stalled (for approx. 45 minutes) at one of the tourist spots. Furthermore, the drive had also taught me that for driving in Ghats, there is a requirement of a specific road sense too. One should know how and when to give space to incoming traffic. Some remote points of Mahabaleshwar, taught me this very crucial lesson. I was lucky to have another family with me who took over the driving in these scenarios.
Post that I made some small trips to nearby locations in Pune like the Katraj Snake Park, Shirgaon and daily up/down in Hinjewadi traffic at various time of the day. Some road sense did develop and a lot needs to be developed I am sure.

So, am I ready for a one day trip to some nearby locations in Pune? It has to be Ghats for sure (more out of compulsion than choice) Places considered after referring various travelogues etc suggested few alternatives (along with the negatives) like Mahabaleshwar / Panchgani (not again), Lavasa (too expensive, sharp hair pin bends), Malshej Ghats (drunkards!!!), Lonavala/Khandala (too crowdy on weekends), Kaas valley (is this the time to go there?), Bhandardara (ghats ,remote location).

Kaas Valley was ticked off, as portals suggested that probably this is not the correct time to be there. The only alternative with me was Bhandardara and the date was 18th June. Referred the map and google suggested a distance of 160 odd kilometers one way, with a drive of around 4 hours. Something I would accept as do-able for a novice like me. Though we had another family with us, nevertheless my intention from the trip was to do all the driving.
We started around 7:00 AM, and soon I could hear the chirping birds of belly. And all this after having a full plate of Maggi before the start. Anyways, with a hungry stomach, one cannot concentrate and so the first stop was made at Hotel Sarja, around 8:30 AM. Other than tea, nothing else was available and we had to do with the cake and banana that we had brought along. By 9 we were out of this place. The second stop (around 10) was made at a roadside eatery along the SH61, between Alephata and Otur. I tasted the best Poha there. Post the session with Poha and multiple tea rounds, we headed straight towards Brahmanwada, enroute to Bhandardara. Destination was reached around 2:30 PM.

Route taken while going from Pune to Bhandardara:-

Pune Chakan Rajgurunagar Manchar Narayangaon Alepahata Otur Bramhanwada Kotul Bhandardara


Salient observations :-
  • Road till Alephata is nice, hotels present all along and with occasional traffic at city intersection points.
  • From Alephata till Otur, the road condition changes to dual lane, with sensible traffic.
  • From Otur till Brahmanwada, its small town like environment with the usual jostle for space at the end points.
  • From Brahmanwada till Bhandardara, its single lane, broken tarmac, occasional Ghats with no street lights.

Seems the mobile coverage is also very feeble in this zone. There was occasional incoming traffic, usually in the form of tractors, Mahindra Commander Jeeps and some red ST buses. The road sense was good and I observed the Commanders making way for the Kwid  The Road in itself is not too narrow, but if there is an incoming, then slight negotiation is required as there is considerable height between the earth and road surface at certain section. This road provides excellent photography spots all along. Though we did not get any spells of rain, one can only imagine the extent of beauty the place has to offer in a full monsoon period.

We had lunch at the MTDC which has nothing worth mentioning. If one serves Chapati after selecting Roti from the menu, wonder what would have been served if the choice was made for Butter Roti. Just besides the lunch room, there are the MTDC Suites which provides excellent (and breezy) view of the Arthur Lake down below. There is also a narrow way to climb down, which everyone took to get more close to nature, excluding me (shaky legs). A few tents were also seen at the distance, close to the lake. I loved this place the most and was informed that online booking is possible at the MTDC.

Definitely look forward to visit the place once more in the near future. One surprising fact was the countable presence of Mumbai cars even though the distance is not that far from Pune. Might be the Punekars will flock later.

The return started around 4:30 PM and by 11:30 PM we were at parking. While returning, I forgot the intermediate places and google suggested the following route which I blindly took.

Bhandardara Brahmanwada Bota then merge onto the SH 60 Alephata Narayangaon Manchar Rajgurunagar Chakan Pune.

As there is no street lights and it turns out dark sooner in the mountains, I missed the turn at Brahmanwada and headed straight towards Bota. This resulted in more moon surfaced roads and the additional time spent.
A few more pictures have been captured via the camera and I will share some of them pretty soon. Hope someone visits this place during the monsoons and update the thread with the contrasting images.

At Hotel Sarja

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-img_20170618_085540.jpg

Between Alephata and Otur, where we had excellent Poha

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-img_20170618_095317.jpg

Humbly yours

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-img_20170618_161653.jpg

The final odometer reading

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-img_20170618_232504.jpg
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Old 20th June 2017, 22:44   #2
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Default re: Pune to Bhandardara Drive

Some of the images captured.

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-1.jpg

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-2.jpg

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-3.jpg

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-4.jpg

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-5.jpg

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-6.jpg

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-7.jpg

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-8.jpg

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-9.jpg

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-11.jpg

Pune to Bhandardara Drive-10.jpg
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Old 21st June 2017, 15:14   #3
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Default Re: Pune to Bhandardara Drive

Recommend you do the same trip sometime in Aug (when monsoons is at its peak)

The place turns magical

Did not visit Randha Falls?
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Old 21st June 2017, 17:38   #4
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Default Re: Pune to Bhandardara Drive

Next time definitely Rajesh Rawal. There were no falls anywhere other than false falls. Moreover it was quite late by the time we started back. If you can please share the road till Randha Falls it will be great. Will help me the next time we visit this place.
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Old 23rd June 2017, 10:59   #5
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Thanks for the write up. I was planning to take a trip with family in August and your post has helped. Last time I was in the vicinity, it was very foggy and we had a tough time driving.
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Old 23rd June 2017, 12:03   #6
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Default Re: Pune to Bhandardara Drive

Nice writeup and nice photos!

The best time to visit is probably sometime in September when randha falls is flowing to its fullest and the rains have also receded a bit. We had visited bhandardara last september and it was quite a trip.
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