- Ajaz Shaikh
Chikhaldara: An Quaint Hill Station
Chikhaldara is full of deep misty valleys and these valleys are full of velvet mist and majestic trees. Chikhaldara has a new shade in every fold unwrapped. Chikhaldara is situated at an altitude of 1118 m in Amaravati district of Vidarbha region has the added distinction of being
only coffee-growing area in Maharashtra. The only hill station in the Vidarbha region offers you an abundance of wildlife, viewpoints, lakes and waterfalls. All this makes it a very popular summer retreat. The climate is always breezy and walking on the clouds often becomes a reality. Chikhaldara has many things to be explored.
The nearest railway station to the Chikhaldara is Badnera Junction which is 100 km from Chikhaldara. Badnera is well-connected with all the major cities in India. The cheapest and convenient way to reach Badnera is by train. Due to excellent train connectivity, it makes sense to either explore it as a weekend trip from Mumbai or you can combine it with a trip to Narnala Fort (Like I did) over a long weekend. By train, it will take 10 hrs to 12 hrs to reach Badnera from Mumbai.
From Mumbai, you can take 12101 Junction Aneswari Delx on Friday leaves from Lokmanya Tilak Terminal (LTT) at 08:30 PM and will reach Badnera Junction (BCT) the next day around 06:45 AM.
For return journey from Badnera, you can take 12152 Samarsata Express Express on Sunday leaves from Badnera Junction (BCT) at 08:45 PM and will reach Lokmanya Tilak Terminal (LTT) next day around 07:30 AM
To reach Chikhaldara from Badnera Railway Station, you can easily hire a cab from right outside the railway station at economical rates. The cab drivers usually quote exorbitant rates, but will quickly bring down their quotes once you start bargaining. For a two day trip, you should not pay more than ₹5000 or alternatively hire a bike on rent for maximum INR 700 per day.
The nearest airport to the Chikhaldara is Nagpur Airport which is approx 240 km from Chikhaldara and it will take around 6 to 7 hrs to reach Chikhaldara.
Pocket-friendly and for a budget trip way to reach Chikhaldara from Mumbai is by train.
Where To Stay?
If you are on a budget trip and looking for all in one package at a pocket-friendly price do check Resort Shankarmuni. Best View of Chikhaldara Beauty, Clean and hygienic ambience &
rooms and good food just for ₹2000 per night. This place has to offer minimum facilities nothing comparing to fancy Mumbai Resort but an amazing place to enjoy the experience of being in a place rich in history, beauty, architecture and culture. The cherry on the top an amazing place to capture sunrise timelapse.
When to Go?
Visit the Chikhaldara valley between the months of October and June and unravel the mysticism of the mountains and thick foliage of trees and let it create some awesome memories upon your residence to this tranquil beauty. This place will make a pleasant stay for a weekend and a feast for your eyes.
June to September: If one wants to enjoy the rains and wander in the mist.
October to February: To enjoy the cool winters.
December to January: The Temperature goes below 10 degree Celsius.
Day One: Reach Chikhaldara & Gawilgarh Fort
From Badnera railway station it will take you around 2 to 3 hrs to reach Chikhaldara. So just check-in into your hotel and rest for a while before you start with an amazing tour to Gawligad Fort.
This historically significant place Gawilgarh Fort (Gawilghur or Gawilgad ) was the mountain stronghold of the Maratha Empire during the British rule in India. The constant repulsion and war raged against the Britishers by the mighty Marathas led to a situation where the Britishers had to shed away their idea of taking over this place.
Gawilghur fort has two levels, the outer fort being slightly lower than the inner one. This outer fort has a third wall which covers the approach to it from the north. The fort has two main gateways, the Delhi Darwaza, between the inner and outer fort, and the Fateh Darwaza, the south-western gate, built by Fateh-Ullah Imad-ul-Mulk.
The most conspicuous of the remains in the fort is the great mosque which stands upon the highest point towards the south side of the inner fort. Built in the Pathan style of architecture, the mosque has seven arches in its facade. Of the two minarets, the one at the north-eastern angle of the building still exists. Its square canopy, with very exquisite stone lattice-work, rises little above the domes of the mosque.
There were not less than eight water tanks in the fort, few of them still in good condition. Devtalav and Khantalav, which would have been the main water source in case the fort was besieged.
There still remain in the fort several canons, the one at the southern end is the largest.
Gawilgarh has a long history. The saying was; “One who controls Gawilgarh controls Berar.” After the split of the Bahamani Kingdom, it passed through many hands. It was with the Imadshahi in 1488 AD, the Nizamshahi in 1574 AD, the Mughals in 1599 AD and the Marathas in 1754 AD, before it fell to the British in 1803 AD.
Gawilgarh fort was dismantled in 1858 AD lest it should be seized by Tatya Tope, who in that year attempted to break from the Satpuda hills into the Deccan in order to stir up the country for the independence movement.
Gafur Ahmed, a jaglia (tenant) of the Narnala Fort, tried to determine whether the chambers built into the fort of Narnala Fort had any use by driving 20 sheep into them. One of the sheep turned up at Gawilgarh which is more than 20 miles away. So, probably there is a tunnel connecting the two forts.
It will take you around 4 to 5 hrs to explore the entire fort so carry atleast 2 litres to water and something to eat incase you run out of energy because to explore this place you need to walk alot and you won't find any stall inside the fort. But remember the golden rule, we are not here to dump waste, so don't just throw empty water bottle or packet. Carry them back to the entry gate where you can find a dustbin.
Entry Fees: ₹25 per person for Indian and ₹300 per person for Foreigner.
Visiting hours: Sunrise to Sunset.
One of the best point to visit particularly in the morning and or in the evening. Both offer different scenic beauty of the morning sun and evening sun. Mozari viewpoint is next to MTDC Resort. One can see Satpura Mountain ranges from this point. Local people have to say during monsoon the deep valley view gets covered all around with clouds it's a must-visit place in the rainy season.
Chikhaldara has been a small town, there is nothing much to do post sunset and the main market will close before it gets dark.
Day Two: Lets Explore Chikhaldara
You don't have to go anywhere to enjoy the sunrise in this beautiful misty valley. You can do it right from the balcony of the Resort Sankarmuni while enjoying morning tea.
Yes! you can also go to Mozari Point to enjoy the sunrise.
Breakfast @ Tarri Poha
For breakfast, you must try Tarri Poha at Tiwari Hotel in the main market.
(Tarri Poha - popular across all parts of Maharashtra especially in Nagpur. Many vendors sell poha in the wee hours of the morning. They serve it along with a tarri which has thin gravy.)
Devi Point - Holy place with a scenic location
One of the main reason to visit here is the main source of Chandrabhaga River which meet Purna river on the downside. There is a temple of Ma goddess in the small cave where the water continuously trickles. Locals often visit here either for pray or for sightseeing and to enjoy some personal time with friends and family. The location offers an excellent view of the surrounding valley.
Standing in front of a real farm though and it was much better than the feeling of virtual farmland of course. The taste here was no different than what I experienced in the strawberry farms of Mahabaleshwar. The temperature here does not dip as low as Mahabaleshwar, and
the water table is also low, forcing the region to develop rain-water harvesting methods on the arid and hard soils. Despite this, human willpower can create magic what no one else can
The strawberries sell in packets starting from 100 gms to 250 gms and sell for about ₹300 per kg. One tour of the farms is enough for you to understand the effort that has been put to make an otherwise impossible dream a reality.
Bhimkund-Kichakdara holds a mythological significance that attracts tourists. According to the Hindu mythological Mahabharata, Queen Sudeshna's brother Keechak often harassed Draupadi. One day, seeing Draupadi alone, Keechak misbehaved with her. Draupadi complained to Bhima. Angry at this, Bhima asked Draupadi to bring Keechak to the dance hall at night. At the behest of Draupadi, as soon as Keechaka reached the dance hall at night, Bhima attacked Keechaka with mace and killed him. After this, Bhima cleaned the blood-soaked body by bathing in a falling waterfall from the middle of the mountains. After which this kund was named as Bhima Kund.
Bhimkund has several deep furrows in the south direction ranging from 155 feet to 1500 feet deep. Tigers also live in the thick forests here. In winter water stream is thin, but this would be the best place to see during monsoon. The deep valley covered with mountain from all the sides
Goodbye - Chikhaldara
It a universe law at all good things will come to an end, so do our trip also. But i am sure you will leave Chikhaldara with lots and lots of memories, fresh and fully charged mind and lots of photo for your Instagram.
Listen to Me
Do carry your power bank for your mobile phone and devices, being a small place due except some power cut.
Please be polite and gentle with the native people, because you are their guest.
It's best to dress modestly and act conservatively.