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Bhimashankar, located in Sahyadri hills, is one of the most popular treks in Maharashtra

Every monsoon, trekkers flock to the Sahyadri region in Maharashtra to enjoy the bounty of nature. During monsoon, the western ghats come alive with rain powered greenery, mist and pleasant weather. One of the most favoured routes of trekking enthusiasts is the Bhimashankar trek, located in Bhavagiri, 50 km from Khed village, and in close proximity of the cities of Mumbai (210 km) and Pune (110 km).

The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 131 sqkm and is rich in flora and fauna. Established in 1984, with an intent to protect the habitat of the Giant Malabar Squirrel, the deciduous forest is home to nine tribal villages. Wild animals such as Mongoose, Leopard, Sangai and Barking deer, Sambar, Wild Boar, Indian Palm Civet, Porcupine, Wild Hare, etc.,

are found here. Clove and black plum trees are common to this region. BHIMASHANKAR TREK BEGINS Kathewadi is the base village of Bhimashankar from where the trek begins. Simple yet beautiful, Kathewadi steals your attention. Vast green fields prompt you to spend time here. There are plenty of small water streams in the area and translucent, yellow-coloured crabs scurrying around them is a common sight. Flowers of multiple hues fill the trees. In the far distance, mountains enveloped in mist loom large. As you proceed through the rough rocky patches, you will find no dearth of small hut-like shops selling refreshments. Sights of herdsmen leading their cattle (goats) welcome you.

SIGHTSEEING & LUNCH

At a shot distance from this point, a small waterfall offers the opportunity for clicking pictures. Several hutments here serve jhunkabhakri, a staple food of rural Maharashtra that is made on the clay oven fuelled by wood fire. It’s a good spot to halt for lunch. After the meal, start trekking again. A surprise lies in store at the next corner as a series of seven waterfalls, located next to each other on a large mountain, await you. This spot is one of the main reasons why people choose the Bhimashankar trek.

BEAUTIFUL SURROUNDINGS

Going ahead, the forest becomes denser and bird calls more concentrated. Rocks are covered in green moss, and so are the branches of the trees. Some trees are so tall that you have to crane your neck to admire their beauty. Snails leisurely move around the tiny red mushrooms and small termite are found here. Clove and black plum trees are common to this region. BHIMASHANKAR TREK BEGINS Kathewadi is the base village of Bhimashankar from where the trek begins. Simple yet beautiful, Kathewadi steals your attention. Vast green fields prompt you to spend time here. There are plenty of small water streams in the area and translucent, yellow-coloured crabs scurrying around them is a common sight. Flowers of multiple hues fill the trees. In the far distance, mountains enveloped in mist loom large. As you proceed through the rough rocky patches, you will find no dearth of small hut-like shops selling refreshments. Sights of herdsmen leading their cattle (goats) welcome you. SIGHTSEEING & LUNCH At a shot distance from this point, a small waterfall offers the opportunity for clicking pictures. Several hutments here serve jhunkabhakri, a staple food of rural Maharashtra that is made on the clay oven fuelled by wood fire. It’s a good spot to halt for lunch.

After the meal, start trekking again. A surprise lies in store at the next corner as a series of seven waterfalls, located next to each other on a large mountain, await you. This spot is one of the main reasons

BEAUTIFUL SURROUNDINGS

Going ahead, the forest becomes denser and bird calls more concentrated. Rocks are covered in green moss, and so are the branches of the trees. Some trees are so tall that you have to crane your neck to admire their beauty. Snails leisurely move around the tiny red mushrooms and small termite homes make their presence felt. This patch of Bhimashankar trek slows you down as you tend to stop and admire nature’s bounty.

CHALLENGING TIMES

Now comes the most difficult patch of the trek. There are two trek routes – Ganesh Ghat and Shidi Ghat. Shidi Ghat is slightly tricky and difficult, hence, opt for the Ganesh Ghat route. It’s relatively easier yet demands caution and energy. Skillfully cross the narrow path, one person at a time. The rain makes the rock slippery so maneuver the way with great caution.

ANCIENT DWELLING

After one more hour of trekking through the dense forest, you arrive at the ancient Bhimashankar temple that is forever bustling with activity due to visitors and shops in the area. The temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas located across India, making it a prominent pilgrimage site for Hindus. Famous for its Swayambhu Lingam, one can’t ignore the awe inspiring scenes from mythology carved on the pillars and door of the temple. At 3,250 ft, the temple is built in the Nagara architectural style. Your trek comes to a culmination at this point, but not before you make-up your mind to visit this soul-stirring place yet again.

Text & Photos: Abhinav Singh

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