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Tags : Trekking & Hiking

Time Required : 3-4 hours

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Trekking, Bhimashankar Overview

Bhimashankar Trek is one of the most famous treks in Maharashtra. It leads to Bhimashankar Temple which is located about 50 kilometres from Khed and 114 kilometres from Pune. The temple is situated in the Western Ghats of India (Sahyadri Mountain Ranges) and is surrounded by dense forests, perfect for adventure and recreational activities. Trekkers from Pune and Mumbai often head to Bhimashankar for a day-long recreational activity which can easily be completed over a weekend. The forest is home to a number of animal and plant species. Nature lovers would enjoy exploring the lush greenery but some prior experience in trekking is advisable. Beginners can enrol with one of the adventure companies to arrange the shorter or an easier trek.   

Famous for the Jyotirlinga Shrine, Bhimashankar encounters a heavy footfall of devotees throughout the year. Besides the religious importance, Sahyadri hills are also a host to great trekking expeditions. Walking through the luxuriant greenery and witnessing the place dipped in sheer beauty is undoubtedly a cherishable experience. Existing in the serene environment is a myriad of flora and fauna. Due to the richness of vegetation and wildlife, the place has been turned into a wildlife sanctuary- Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary. It is an exciting place for treks and nature escapade. The Sanctuary is home to various avifauna and was primarily created to protect the habitat of The Giant Indian Squirrel.

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Trekking routes to Bhimashankar

Connecting Bhimashankar to the sleepy hamlet Khandas, the trekking route is full of lush green vegetation and majestic waterfalls. The trekkers on their way to Bhimashankar encounter the real sense of beauty stored in the laps of nature. As mentioned above there are two routes via which one can reach the mighty Bhimashankar temple. Here is more detailed information about the two courses to the top.

1. Ganesh Ghat
The route is named so because of the temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha which falls on this way. Though the trail lacks in difficulty, the magnificent Bhimashankar walls in between the route make up for its least difficulty level. The path from Khandas to Bhimashankar through Ganesh Ghat is an 8-kilometre moderate trek that takes 4 hours to its completion. The trekking trail passes via the base of a rock tower known as Paddar Killa. Trekkers on this route move along a snake hood-shaped peak called the Nagphani peak. On your way to Bhimashankar, you would also see a small pond dug out known as the Hanuman Tal. The easy trail is well marked and is often used by locals. However, do not underestimate the moderate level of this trail. According to the locals, this path has caught a few unprepared trekkers off guard. The villagers at Khandas have told numerous stories about trekkers who were lost after the dusk took over. Hence it is advisable to finish the trek before the sun sets.

Sidhi Ghat or the Ladder Route
Those opting for Shidi Ghat would have to trek through an easy path for about 25 minutes, till they reach a stream. After crossing the stream, they would have to walk through an ascending trail for about 45 minutes till they reach Shidi Ghat which is basically a route with ladders. The first and second ladders are consecutive. The third one is separated by a small cave where trekkers can rest for a while and absorb the scenic mountain view. The trail beyond the third ladder is a difficult patch with huge rocks and boulders. Most advanced trekkers can climb this portion. Intermediate level trekkers are advised to use a rope and follow a succession while climbing. After this climb, the trail joins the Ganesh Ghat Route. Further, the climb is steep and goes through thick natural vegetation but it leads directly to the Bhimashankar Temple.

Tips for the trek

Besides being highly adventurous and thrilling, trekking is a risky job. There are certain things that you should positively keep in mind to ensure a safe and healthy trek.
  • Trekking gear is essential. Make sure you carry a rope to climb through the steep, rugged portion with large rocks.
  • The trail does not have any eateries till the point the two routes (Shidi Ghat pathway and Ganesh Ghat route) meet. This point has only a few local vendors selling refreshments for passers-by. So, trekkers must carry enough water and snacks for themselves.
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers (nearest police station, hospitals and fire brigade), carry a torch, charge your mobiles completely and carry a power bank just in case.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and good trekking shoes. The forests are infamous for leeches, so choose your clothing accordingly or properly tuck them to avoid any injuries. Carry a raincoat if a trek is planned during the monsoons.

Accommodation near Bhimashankar

Some trekkers may choose to stay a day or two near Bhimashankar after the trek. The hamlet does not have hotels but, in a radius of about 35 kilometres from the temple, one can easily find a good hotel or a resort. Sereniity Resorts, Bhoj Resort, Westend Hotel, Radisson Blue Resort and Spa, Piccadilly Country Club Resort, Discover Resorts, Sparsh Chalet Resorts etc. are some of them. These are located in various other locations like Naldhe, Karjat, Matheran, Alibaug etc. Other closest hotels are Hotel Centre Point, Ratwa Resort, Natraj Holiday resorts, Blue Mormon Jungle Holiday Resort and Neelam Hills Resort. Travellers must research extensively and then plan their holidays.

Food at Bhimashankar

There are no restaurants also in Bhimashankar Village. Trekkers can choose to head to one of the closest hotels mentioned above. Hotel Centre Point, Ratwa Resort and Blue Mormon Jungle Holiday Resort are famous for the local cuisine. People can also find some lip-smacking local snacks at the point where the two trekking trails meet. The easily available, safest and some of the most delicious foods to have at Bhimashankar are Misal Paav, Roasted Corn, Fruits, Groundnuts, Batata Wada, Idli Sambar, Pakoras, Lemonade, Ginger Tea etc. Some restaurants also serve Maharashtrian Thalis with a variety of traditionally cooked vegetables, curries, flatbreads and salad.

Best Time for Bhimashankar Trek

The best time to go on a Bhimashankar Trek is during the spring and the winter season. Spring (February to March) is a magical time to explore the forests. The temperature is just right (between 15ᵒC and 31ᵒC) and the climate is dry and perfect for trekking. Winter season also is a good time for a recreational activity between November and February. But, since the day-time average temperature hovers around 20ᵒC, trekkers may want to carry jackets or woollens. During the night, the mercury level drops further to 11/ 12ᵒC.

Between June and September, the region receives seasonal rains. This time of the year is not recommended because the Western Ghats of India receives heavy rainfall (average annual precipitation 3900 mm approximately) and the climb becomes slippery and dangerous. Summertime trek is also not recommended because the humidity is high and trekking might be extremely exhausting. But daredevils can prep themselves and head to the trails if they are ready for the rains or the hot and humid season.

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