• Ajaz Shaikh

Andharban Jungle - One Hell Of A Trek

Andharban, by its name, means a dark dense forest. It is a descend trek, where you are already on height and you will descend till the end. It is one of the most beautiful treks and has lots of things to explore. Andharban is best to go during monsoon.

Andharban is open all day. In fact, people sometimes treat this as a night trek as well, the only extra precaution being that they need to carry torches and be extra careful on the trail. However, for someone going for the first time, it is always recommended that they trek during the day, as it is easier to lose your way after nightfall, and one small wrong turn could mean that you wander into the Kundalika Valley. It is best to depart for Andharban early in the morning, timing the journey so as to reach the start point latest by 7 am.


How to reach the start point?

The start point is situated near the Mulsi dam on the Tamhini ghat road. Mulshi Dam is around 130 kms from Mumbai and 50 kms from Pune. Take a bus which is plying on the Tamhini Ghat road route and get down at the start of MCKS Ashram Road. From here, the start point is just 3 kms away. I would suggest you put the location as Andharban Trail Start Point on GMaps and you can navigate appropriately. The starting point is around 2.6 kms from GMCKS Arhatic Yoga Ashram. The trail begins from Pimpri Village.


Andharban Trek - A Challenging Adventure

The start point of the trek is a few meters away from Pimpri village, at a location called Independence point near the Pimpri Dam. There is no specific marking for the start point, but the trail is clearly visible. You can ask nearby villagers for directions if needed. A path winds through a broken chain-link fence. Here, trekkers need to pay a fee before embarking on the trek. There is no permanent counter, just a temporary shelter, but the fee is legitimate, and trekkers get a formal receipt acknowledging the charge paid.

The first part of the trek will be through the dense trees and plenty of water streams and you will also get to enjoy the backwaters of Bira Dam, in the Kundalika Valley. In spite of being a continuous drop, the extreme humidity and slippery route make it slightly challenging. It takes around 6-7 hours to cover the trail. Be sure to start early in the morning

The trail runs completely through a dense jungle and is far from any human habitation. Make sure you carry light snacks, and enough water to last (at least 3 litres) as there are no sources of drinkable water along the route.

The undergrowth slowly begins to grow dense as we go in deeper, although it is still easy to navigate. Through the course of the trek, you will encounter three major streams of rivers, the first of which is reached at the end of this path, after about an hour’s walking. This can sometimes be turbulent during the monsoons and might need ropes to cross it with.

The trail picks up on the opposite bank and continues for almost 1.5 km of a flat walk through a winding route before reaching another rivulet, after a sharp U-bend. This rivulet too tends to overflow. After a slight ascent up into the hills the trail winds into a dark forest, and it is here that Andharban truly begins.

Although the forest can get quite dark, especially due to the presence of fog during the rains, the trail throughout is very clearly visible, with little chance of going awry. Trekkers should watch out for leeches. We suggest you wear full-sleeved/length clothes. There are markers set by previous travellers to mark paths to avoid.

The walk through the dense forest is one of very gradual descent. It continues for almost three kilometres before it climbs a small hill. Here, it opens into a wide-open plateau-like space plus the valley to the left provides a wonderful view. This is a good place to set up a temporary camp and lunch. Alternately, one could walk 5 more minutes to get to Hirdi, a small village nearby. Hirdi does not have too many options for dining, although bathroom facilities can be availed of here.

From Hirdi, the road turns right and leads downwards into the valley. A gradual descent begins here. The easiest way to spot the route is that there are several slippery round stones marking the trail. This descent continues for almost 2 km. The trail then opens into a wide plateau.


From this point onwards, the trail, again, is a mostly flat walk, except now the backwaters of Bhira Dam can be seen to the left/front side. This patch of the trail, although easy, is long. It ends at a wide river flowing across the trail. This river, although broad, is shallow and easy to cross even during the rainy season.

Andharban is open all year round, but the best time to visit would be the monsoon, and the post-monsoon period, when dense fog settles down in the forest, and everything is fresh and green. Although purely a descending trek throughout, Andharban manages to elevate the senses to a completely new level.


Andharban Trek: Why you should NOT trek

  • The air is clean and pure.

  • Waterfalls are flowing to full capacity.

  • Trees are their happiest.

  • There is a freshness in the air.

  • You will have to breathe in the fresh air.

  • You will suffer from an overload of oxygen. This will make your lungs hurt. You don’t want that to happen. Stay at home.


Andharban Trek: Challenges you and tests your limits

For most treks in the Sahyadris, you are climbing up a fort and down. These forts were obviously built to have difficult access. It’s usually a steep climb up the hill – and a steep descent as well. Monsoon just adds to the challenge by introducing water to the play. You’ve to make your way through gushing streams and slippery rocks.

But the real challenge is how long you can walk straight in an inebriated state, right? Can’t test yourself like that on a trek. Stay at home!


Listen To Me:

  • You need a local guide who can show you the way. If you are going in a group of at least 5-6 people then hire a local guide or else you can join a group that arranges treks from Pune or Mumbai to Andharban over weekends. A local guide will charge you around Rs. 1500 fee irrespective of the number of people.

  • We would highly recommend you to join a trekking group for 3 reasons. The start point and end point of the trail are 22 kms away by road. Unless you have a driver, you don't have an option to commute from the end of the trail to the starting point to get your vehicle. You end up meeting like-minded people and making friends. There is no mobile coverage during the trial. It is safer to travel in a group.

  • The entire trail is marked all along the way so make sure you follow them. If you don’t see arrows for a longer time, make sure you come back to the previous arrow. Also, ribbons are tied to the trees to further assist you.

  • Food Options: There is no lunch/ snacks facility available once you enter the forest

  • During the trek, you pass through a village. The locals there can arrange lunch, snacks, and tea. You must carry snacks if you have a habit of munching throughout the day.

  • Things to Carry: Snacks - Energy bars, dry fruits. biscuits, plum cakes etc. Water Bottle (3 Litres Compulsory) Extra Pair of Clothes and a towel Rainwear or Winter wear - As per season Personal Medication / First Aid Kit Toiletries - Facewash, tissue paper, hand-sanitiser etc (Optional) Slippers/ Floaters (optional - Shoes might get wet during the trek.) Plastic Bags - To keep wet clothes

  • Best Time to visit: The best time to visit Andharban is during monsoon - June to September

  • It is advisable to wear full sleeve clothes and carry an umbrella.


Snapshot:

Type: Ghats/Valley/Jungle

Range: Mulshi Taluka of Pune district

Grade: Easy-Moderate

History: Known for Dense forest and river-source for Kundalika river, Independence point

Base Village: Pimpri

Maximum Height: 2,100 feet at Pimpri as it is a full descend trek

Best Time: Only in Monsoon

Duration: 1 Day

Trek Type: Forest trails mostly descending


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