- Ajaz Shaikh
Trek to Valley of Shadows - Sandhan Valley
Sandhan valley a hidden treasure of the Sahyadri. One of the greatest Canyons in the mighty and beautiful ranges of Sahyadris.
Sandhan is a valley located at the border of Ahmednagar, Pune and Kalyan district near Bhandardara Dam. Sandhan is surrounded by many famous forts including Ratangad, AMK (Alang-Madan-Kulang), Harishchandragad, Ajoba and the highest peak of Maharashtra Kalsubai.
How to Reach?
For Mumbaikars, the pocket-friendly way is to take a Central Railway train bound for Kasara. The journey takes around about three hours. The other alternative is to board a train to Igatpuri. From both the stations, one can opt for ST bus going towards Bhandardara or Shendi. From Shendi, one has to hire a private vehicle to reach to the Samrad village, which will cost you around INR 2000 (depending on the season, it might go upto INR 3000). Try looking for a share cab, which will cost you around INR 200 per person.
Do It My Way:
On Friday night, start your journey from CSMT by 09:32 PM Kasara local, which will reach Kasara at 12:11 AM. From Kasara Station you can find a private and shared cab for Samrad Village very easily. Stop on the away for dinner. You will reach the base village i.e. Samrad by 2:00 AM. At Samrad you can easily find a homestay to spend the night and of course, they will also help you with breakfast. Don't expect anything fancy here.
There are some patches where you will need technical support, so just ask for the trek guide at the place you are staying. Only local guide hiring will cost you around INR 500 per person or alternatively you can take a package that includes technical support, tent, dinner & breakfast for INR 1500.
After morning rituals and breakfast, start your trek around 6:00 AM. Within 10 mins of walk from the village, you will reach the start point of the valley. From this point onward your feet are going to just walk on the rocky path passing through water pools with the water level upto the neck. Please note here water level changes according to the season. For safety, please carry your bags on the head or pass the bag first.
Throughout the trek, you will be walking between two huge mountain ranges. The sun will try spreading its rays but the mountains will just block it from reaching you. Sandhan Valley is also called a Valley of Shadow as it hardly allows the sun rays to reach the bottom. The valley is also an awesome place for photographers.
The descending is not that simple as it looks. You need to make way from many big rocks. The main problem faced while descending is that you will be always in the search of shortest and the easiest path but there is no such path. The path upto the first rappelling point which is also known as Tarzan Swing Point is very time-consuming and it about 45 feet. There is 2 more rappelling points which is around 10-15 feet. These hurdles make the trek more exciting
Before reaching the submit point or camping site, at Sandhan Valley you will be trudging through shallow water bodies 2 to 4 feet high. Upon the descent, you will rappel and use a rope ladder after which there will be some cave crawling and also have to slope down and hike among rock patches. There will be deep water pools to wade in, followed by wide rocks and then you will reach the camping spot. Your views will include Bann pinnacle and Ajoba Hill.
From this point, one can opt to travel back to the Samrad village by the same route or instead of returning back to the village, trekkers can go down. However, going forth requires proper trekking and rappeling equipment to reach the base camp as there are two rock patches in between which you can cross only by rappelling. Once you reach base camp you can use Karoli ghat to reach back to Samrad village
You should be able to make it to the campsite before it becomes dark. The campsite is close to the waterfall. Beautiful sky packed with shining stars, chilled weather will make you forget the tiredness. Have your dinner and sleep under the open sky or inside your tent. But make sure you sleep early so that you can wake up early in the morning to enjoy the waterfall.
Post breakfast you can start your return journey. The rocky path will be back in the trek, yes but this time this path will last only for 30 - 45 min. After that, you will start walking towards Dehane village the submission point for the trek.
From Dehane Village nearest railway station will be Asangaon. So to reach Asangaon you can take the State Transport bus till Shahapur which will take around 1 hour 30 minutes and from Shahapur you can take a shared auto to Asangaon. The bus ticket from Dehane to Shahapur will cost you INR 35.00 per person and share auto from Shahapur to Asangaon will cost you INR 15.00 per person. Alternatively, you can book a private vehicle from Dehane to Asangaon which will cost you INR 1500. But I would recommend you to try some authentic Maharashtrian food at "Nisgarcha Sanedhart" where you will get home-cooked food.
AND YES SANDHAN VALLEY TREK IS THE MOST THRILLING TREK.
Ajay Devgn’s Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior will feature a scene where the Maratha forces traverse the Sandhan Valley. The scenes were recreated on 300-feet sets. Here’s the making video.
Listen to Me:
There is no limitation to when you plan on this trek. You can do this at any time of the year. It is, however, preferable that you do not do it in the summers. As the temperatures soar, you will not be able to enjoy the trek very well. Most of your energy will be swapped by enduring the heat. It is advisable to plan the trek in winter, autumn or even in the monsoons.
Keep ample of water as once off the rocky path there is no source to get water, till we reach Varpadi Village.
Technical Support is must for 3 rock patches
It’s not easy to descend as it looks, it's time-consuming. So time management is important.
For the entire trek, we have to walk on big rocks that are tightly locked in one another so some care should be taken while walking if you don't want to get injured by stepping on a loose rock.
Until you are planning to do a backward return to Samrad Village, it's better to avoid owned car or car without a driver.
If you have a heart condition, then it is best to avoid going on this trek. This trek tests your stamina to a huge extent so you need to be careful.
Carry enough packaged food and small nibbles on the go. Keep a few energy bars. Make sure to take some mosquito repellents and windbreakers.
Pack light and carry a fully charged power bank.
There are no washrooms en route nor at the campsite. You will find it after the tour is over at Dehne Village.
Location : Samrad village, Bhandardara.
District: Ahmednagar, Maharashtra.
Height: 4255 feet
Trek Difficulty Level: Medium to High
Endurance Level: High
I hope this comprehensive guide helps you plan an exciting getaway from Mumbai and engage in the dauntless Sandhan Valley trek through the lush foliage and mighty hills of this Indian state. If I missed out on any important element that should have been a part of this guide, let me know in the comments below and we’ll happily add it.
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