Alas !!! what a day it was, when we had an amazing time in the travel to Andharban Forest with some amazing music on the bus and a dance by great heroes and heroines of Newvision and Clousynapps, played antakshari together and laughed on some of biggest PJs of the day.
The word ‘Andhar’ literally means ‘Darkness’ and ‘Ban’ means ‘Forest’. True to its name, the trail takes you through a dense dark forest. Andharban trek is a hike through a dense forest with thick overgrowth, and beautiful views of waterfalls, streams, and the Tamhini Ghat along the way. The trek begins at an elevation of 2,160 feet and descends into the valley, to reach the backwaters of the Bhira Dam where the trek ends.
We started our drive to Pimpri village on a bus organized by Adventure Group. Once we crossed the city area and moved through the Mulshi District, we could see the entire valley covered in fog. We stopped at a highway restaurant to have some tea before we reach our base location.
We reached Pimpri village around 9:30 am and had our breakfast at Hotel Chaitanyatej. Adventure Group trek leader Rohan introduced us to their team members and guides and gave us a detailed briefing about the trek. We had our warmup exercises post our beautiful group photos which were clicked by Atul sir’s DSLR. The weather was pleasant, and everyone was excited to hit the trail. We followed a trail passing through the paddy fields and soon entered the forest. The entry inside the forest is based on a permit issued by the ‘Forest Department’. The Adventure Group team had obtained the permits in advance, so our group was allowed to enter after a preliminary screening at the check post near the start point.
The almost flat trail with occasional ascents took us inside a dense forest with lush green trees all around. Everything looked so fresh and green. The landscape reminded me of scenes from the movie ‘Avatar’ and ‘Anaconda’. Though it is a defined trail, some parts were tricky to cross because of mud and puddles after the rain. Also, the trail had many small streams flowing down the hills. At some points, we had to use ropes to cross as the flow of the streams was strong. The Adventure Group staff helped us throughout the way and made sure we negotiate the difficult stretches safely. We took breaks in between to rest and admire the mesmerizing views of the Kundalika Valley. The surrounding mountains were covered in mist and occasionally, the sun rays passing through the dark clouds created a surreal view.
The most beautiful part was “the secret waterfall” which no doubt was the most difficult to reach, however, the most beautiful to look at and the most enjoyable with its great waterfall. The trek guide informed us that waterfall is very private to their trek group and only their guests are brought up to that place.
The walk was very refreshing with the soothing sounds of bird calls as well as streams & waterfalls in the distance. There were plenty of streams and natural ponds on the way. It was raining on and off during the trek.
Whenever it rained, walking further was felt further difficult. However, the group members helped each other and with continuous encouragement from our trek leaders and guides, we all managed to complete the trek by 4:00 pm.
When we reached our base location, we all were very hungry and together we enjoyed the sumptuous lunch where we had our breakfast.
It was a complete Maharashtrian thali with dessert, a much-needed lunch after walking for such a long hour.
After lunch, we quickly freshened up and went back to our buses and started our return journey to Pune by 5 PM and reached Pentagon 1, Pune at 8:30 PM.
Overall, the trek was tiring because of the long distance, but it was a refreshing and highly adventurous experience to spend some time in nature, away from the hustle & bustle of the city pollution with all of us together
A memorable day, which we for sure will cherish forever.