Saturday, December 29, 2018

Weekend in Pune - Bhira Dam, Tamhini Ghat and Shaniwar Wada fort

After visiting the Malenadu region of the western ghats, I got a chance to explore the ghat section in the outskirts of Pune. Tamhini Ghat is around 60 kms from Pune and is known for the smaller waterfalls and foggy weather during the monsoon season. Bhira Dam is further ahead from the ghat which provides breathtaking views. During this trip I also got to visit Shaniwar Wada fort and of course savor the various local delicacies.

In July, Wife and I left from Bangalore by the late evening flight to reach Pune at around 10:30 pm. We stayed at my brother-in-laws place in Kharadi which was pretty near to the airport. Pune has a bunch of trekking and sightseeing places in the outskirts and all options were presented to us on reaching Pune. I had already seen everything on the lonavala route and had visited the Sinhagad fort during my trip in 2014. We finally agreed on visiting the Bhira Dam and booked OLA Rental for 6 am so that we could complete the trip before rest of Pune wakes up :P The ride through deserted streets and roads at 6am was just amazing :)

We stopped for breakfast before entering the ghat section and had the standard poha, misal pav and pav bhaji which seems to be the staple food of folks around there. I usually take a photo of the menu or hotel so that I can mention it in my blog but I seem to have missed it this time. However from the geotag of the pics I took it looks like we had breakfast at Shende Patil Wada on Mulshi-Paud road at around 8am.

The ride had some amazing sceneries as you pass by the Tamhini Ghats. There are multiple viewpoints where you could stop for pictures.

You first get to see the backwaters of Mulshi Dam (I assume it is Mulshi because Google Maps says so).

Further ahead to the Mulshi Dam you get the Bhira Dam which you can reach via two routes. One is through the guard house/maintenance rooms where the staff will not let you enter and get close. We were lucky to arrive at the one that is near the deserted end of the dam where you can trespass and walk over the dam wall. I say trespass because as we walked on the wall, we got shooed away by the guards on the other end.

Well, before we walked near the dam, we walked for a kilometer on the Andharban Trail which is one of the longer trek trails to/from Bhira Dam until we reached a stream. It started pouring when we reached here and we were not prepared for it.

From the trail you get to see the hilly peaks and a lot of greenery. We waited for the rain to stop and returned back to explore the dam.

Each angle from the dam offers you a different view and with a good camera, every one of the picture is wallpaper worthy.

We had reached the dam at around 10am and we were there until about noon. We ate some of the food that we had got making it a mini picnic. 
On the way back we saw that there were some folks collecting entry fees at the road leading to the dam and most people were turning back. No wonder we were the only ones at the dam as we reached before they started stopping vehicles. When we entered Tamhini ghat to return to Pune, it was full of vehicles and every waterfall had folks dancing in the water as if it was their very own private waterfall (apparently folks come to this ghat to bathe in the falls)

Folks drive like crazy in Pune (no offence) but they drive like maniacs on these ghats (again no offence). We saw folks sitting on the hood of the car and speeding on the ghat road. So if you are new to the place, exercise caution :) There are various small places where you can stop and have your lunch. We stopped at a small dhaba on the Tamhini Ghat road at around 1:15 pm. We had a local variant of rice roti (Tandlachi Bhakri), pithla (besan curry), Maharastrian dal and masala maggi (which was kind of a must have for the weather :P)

We were back in Pune by 4pm and we had the car rental till 7pm so we decided to visit some places inside the city. Pune has a few forts in the outskirts of the city but there is a major one at the city center - The Shaniwar Wada fort. This fort was once a seven storied building of the Peshwas however now you can only see the foundation of the building.

The Dagdusheth Halwai Ganesh Mandir is at a walkable distance and is well known for the 2 meter tall idol which adornes around 40 kg of gold. We then walked to Joshi Wadewale for vada pav and Kaka Halwai for some sweets and snacks to carry back home!

That ended day 1 in Pune. The next day was relaxing and I decided to meet my friend who stayed at the other end of the city which gave me a tour of the outer ring road one way and the busy city route the way back. Pune has separate bus lanes with bus stops on the center of the road.

We ended the Pune trip with visiting the food street on the Kharadi main road for the famous Tandoor Chai.

Swetha Akka and Venu Bhavaji for planning the whole weekend for us.
My wifey and Atulya for the wonderful company ;)

You might also be interested to read: Mumbai, Lonavla-Aurangabad-Shirdi-Nashik-Pune, Leh-Nubra-Pangong, Jaipur

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