Bhandardara is the place to go to when you want to do nothing on a holiday. For, there isn’t much that you can do there anyway. Other than just soak in nature, stare out into the hills, be delighted by the lake and splash a little water here and there in the many water-gates of the Wilson dam and waterfalls.
Now here’s a tip even before I start – plan out a 3-day weekend during the monsoons to Bhandardara. Say, a Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Why? One, because 3 days is quite enough to re-charge your ‘batteries’. Secondly, monsoons wreathes magic in the Western Ghat in July, August, September. No sooner do you get out of the city-limits, that you start feeling the fresh air on your face and in your lungs.
About 180 kms from Mumbai, off the Nashik highway, Bhandardara is thronged by the city-stressed people. Drive down at a leisurely pace stopping every once in a while to gaze at the idyllic life around you. Do pack some fruits and easy snacks, for the crave to eat something or the other on the way can really overwhelm you.
Where to stay in Bhadardara? Honestly, the most decent place to stay in Bhandardara is Anand Bhuvan Resort. Perched on a hill, it overlooks the Arthur Lake on one side and is covered with greenery. Tiny cottages dot the little hillock with each cottage having a living room, bedroom and a balcony to itself. Sounds romantic and that’s what enticed us. Although clean, the place is very basic and doesn’t justify the bomb you paid for your reservation. Food is pretty much what you get in any restaurant in India – nothing extra-ordinary. The resort boasts of its own badminton court and indoor games. Once again, overcharged, under-maintained. But, as I said, Anand Bhuvan is the best option you have in Bhandardara.
What to do in Bhadardara? Nothing!! Truly. Don’t itch away to go here and there. It’s beautiful and green here, untouched by most city ‘development’ – hence, simply soak in the greenery, the wild flowers, the farmer ploughing his field with the help of his bullocks, the innocent look on children’s faces, the butterflies. Oh yes, the butterflies. You’d amazed how many you will see here. Drove me to think of something really obnoxious – surely there must be equal number of caterpillars then? I shrugged off the thought!! And then saw a few frogs. OMG, I screamed!! Papa look, Ridi squealed!! I stayed away from the slimy creatures while Papa and daughter chased the frogs around for long. Poor little things, I sympathised for the frogs!!
Yes, there’s the usual Wilson dam and Arthur Lake, Randha waterfall and a medieval temple which you can cover in about an hour’s drive. But nothing beats the occasional halting in the meadows to catch the sun play hide and seek with the clouds, to see goat-herds loiter away with his goats, to run to a nearby tree to shield from the intermittent showers. As I said, do nothing. Have no agenda. Simply loiter like a vagabond. And you will be enriched by the glimpses on nature at its best.
And don’t forget to sing. We sang many many songs while at Bhandardara:
Tagore’s, “Gram chara oei ranga matir poth, amar mon bhulay re – the red path beyond the village charms me” was so very appropriate here.
And also Asha Bhonsle’s haunting rendition of “Aage bhi jane na tu, Piche bhi jane na tu, Jo bhi hai baas yahi aek paal hai – You don’t know what will come, You don’t know what you left behind, All that it is, Is this very moment”