Bhimashankar trek Part I: Via Shidi Ghat!

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A board nailed on a tree in the dark forest indicates the correct trail to Bhimashankar Temple.

This blog post has been divided into two parts: The Ascent to Bhimashankar via Shidi Ghat (Ladder route) and The Descent to Khandas via Ganesh Ghat. Link to the second part can be found at the bottom of this page.

# 42

When: Monsoon ‘17
Where: Bhimashankar trek via Shidi Ghat & Ganesh Ghat
Range
: Bhimashankar
Nearest railway stations:
1. Neral ~29 kms
2. Karjat ~ 30 kms
Base Village: Khandas
Best time to visit: Monsoon!
USP: Thrill of the Shidi Ghat & also Bhimashankar is one of the 12 Jyotirlings of India.
Food and Water:  Refer section maps for approx. location of weekend stalls during monsoon. There are plenty of stores & restaurants near Bhimashankar temple as well.
Accomodation: A few hotels/Lodge near Bhimashankar temple OR Pawarbaba’s Ashram near Chahacha Aamba (merging point of Ganesh Ghat & Shidi Ghat routes). You can also arrange night accommodation in Khandas by calling Suresh Bhau (number given in transport section).
Total Time: 11.5 hours (of which active time: 7 hours).
Approx. expenses
: Less than 400 Rs/Head.

Difficulty: Tough for Beginners & Moderate for Experienced trekkers
Endurance: 4 (If attempting both routes in a day, else Endurance grade: 3)
Risk Factor:  High for Shidi Ghat (Slippery rock patches and rockfall pose a risk during Monsoons). Medium for Ganesh Ghat.
What do these gradings indicate? Find out here!

Map:

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The complete loop of Bhimashankar trek via Shidi & Ganesh Ghat.

Complete Trail length: (From Khandas Village)
1.Shidi Ghat: 7.5 km
2. Ganesh Ghat: 10.2 km

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Elevation vs Distance graph of the route

Actual distance covered: 15.5 kms (We started from Khandas bridge, which is 1.7 kms from Khandas village)
Max Elevation of trek:
966m/3175 ft as per Google Earth.
Total Elevation Gain & Loss:
3526 ft / 3428 ft respectively.
Route:
Neral- Kashele-Khandas-Shidi Ghat-Mungi Ghat-Bhimashankar Temple-Mungi Ghat-Ganesh Ghat-Khandas- Neral

Directions: Alight at Neral railway station by Karjat/Khopoli bound trains and board a sharing Tum-Tum/Van to Kashele (20 Rs/seat) from the West side. From Kashele, you can either wait for the bus to Khandas (caution: erratic times) or hire a Car(Fare may vary depending on time of the year)/board a sharing Tum-Tum (30-40 Rs/seat, again depending on time of the year). Proceed towards Bhimashankar by the tar road to Khandas bridge and then turn right for Ganesh Ghat or left for Shidi Ghat.

  1. Shidi Ghat Ascent: You ‘ll cross a small hamlet, about 400m from the bridge. Take the first right after hamlet to walk onto a kuchcha road which gradually turns into a trail passing through sparse forest. The trail opens up to a small plateau with a clear view of the Shidi Ghat. Cross a stream and negotiate the steep climb to reach first ladder. Another ladder brings you to a cave and the third ladder takes you to a tricky rock patch with excellent finger holds. Cross a protruding rock to reach the final rock patch, which leads to the top of the waterfall. Proceed along a trail going north which later turns east, cutting through paddy fields to ultimately merge with the Ganesh Ghat trail at the Chahacha Aamba.
  2. Mungi Ghat (Common for both): Head east from the Chahacha Aamba by the broad trail that zigzags over steep terrain to enter the dense forest of Bhimashankar. A 45 minute traverse brings you to the enclosure of Hanuman pond. Turn left and walk along the fence to cross a parking lot and enter Bhimashankar temple premises across the tar road. The road besides Ram mandir is the starting point of Gupt Bhimashankar trail. Follow the same route while descending till you reach Chahacha Aamba.
  3. Ganesh Ghat Descent: Turn south (left) from Chahacha Aamba to start walking along the Ganesh Ghat route. The dense forest will lead to a waterfall in half an hour’s time from the merging point. Proceed west from the waterfall to reach the Ganesh temple. Continue descending by the rocky trail to reach the tar road and hitch a ride back to Neral via Khandas.

GPS trail: Click here to view GPS trail on Wikiloc -> Bhimashankar via Shidi Ghat & Ganesh Ghat.

Other transport options: Buses ply to Kashele/Khandas from Karjat but are unreliable. Best option is to travel by sharing Tum-Tum/Van between Neral-Kashele-Khandas.

For booking a Car from Karjat/Neral to Khandas: For groups of 8-10 trekkers, hiring a car is a good option, especially if you plan to reach Khandas night before the trek. Mr. Suresh Ainkar (Phone # 7350492119) ferried us from Kashele to Khandas and back all the way to Neral. He drives a Mahindra Bolero and provides round the clock pick-n-drop facility from Neral/Karjat on prior notice.

Alternative Routes:

  1. Gogul Ghat: This route is unknown to many trekkers and not mentioned in the trekking books probably because the route is not well defined. From the small bridge on the tar road trek uphill till you meet route no.1 at the base of Padar Killa. This route surpasses the Ganpati temple. The route passes over big rocks most of the time and so it is difficult to locate the track. Hence it is better to hire a villager to avoid inconvenience.
    (Source -> Ruzbeh Billimoria’s blog which has been taken down as of 2018)
  2. Bhorgiri-Bhimashankar: 1 Day (From Pune)
  3. Jamrung-Bhimashankar loop via Vajranti Ghat: 1 Day
    (Source -> https://yogeshunavane.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/bhimasankar-via-vajantri-ghat-trek)
  4. Lonavla-Bhimashankar (LoBhi): 2-3 Day
    Lonavla-Valvand-Kondheshwar temple-Dhangarwadi-Talpewadi-Kamaljai plateau-Bhimashankar
  5. Naneghat-Bhimashankar (NaBhi): 3-4 Day
    Naneghat-Jeevdhan-Amboli-Dhakoba-Durg-Durgawadi-Ahupe-Kondval-Bhimashankar.

Our Itinerary:
0448 hrs- Train to Karjat
0700 hrs- Alighted at Neral
0830 hrs- Reached Khandas Bridge after Breakfast
1000 hrs- Reached first ladder
1145 hrs- Chahacha Aamba
1430 hrs- Bhimashankar Temple
1540 hrs- Started descent
1710 hrs- Back at Chahacha Aamba
1815 hrs- Reached view point
1915 hrs- Reached Ganesh Mandir after losing the route once
1945 hrs- Boarded Car at the start of Tar road
2020 hrs- Reached Neral
2100 hrs- Boarded 2056 hrs fast train for CSTM from Neral

NOTE:

  1. All the pictures used in this post have been clicked by me or my friends, unless stated otherwise.
  2. The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore, strictly at your own risk. For full Disclaimer and Content (including Images) Policy, click here -> Terms of Use.

Prologue:

The month of June passed without a single prolonged wet spell but we didn’t let it dampen our spirits as we patiently waited for our annual saviour- July!
For the past three years, some of our most cherished treks have happened in the month of July and this year was going to be no different as we set our sights on another must-do trek in the Sahyadris: Bhimashankar!

The Gang: Abhishek, Darshana, Manish, Mansi, Omkar, Shardul, Tejas & Me


Another Season begins!

We had been racking our brains trying to find an interesting one-day trek near Mumbai but none of the names put forth excited us. Even my usual trick of going through the bookmarked blogs didn’t work its charm this time round.

And then I understood. It was finally time to bring out the ultimate trekking resource of mine- THE DRAGON SCROLL OF TREKS!

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Kung-Fu Trekkers! Unlike Po’s Dragon scroll, mine wasn’t blank! 😉

Yes! BHIMASHANKAR VIA SHIDI & GANESH GHAT!

The trek to Bhimashankar had long been at the back of my mind but the cautionary line attached with every description of Shidi Ghat always made me wonder if I was skilled enough to take it on, that was UNTIL this year. With a bank of several ‘difficult’ trek experiences to draw upon, I finally felt ready to do it. But now the question wasn’t “If we could do it” but “If it could be done in a day” because a two-day break wasn’t possible for most of us.

None of us had been to Bhimashankar before, except Abhishek. He has been going to the Bhimashankar temple by Ganesh Ghat route every year with his friends as a form of annual pilgrimage in the fasting month of Shravan. But last monsoon, he trekked up by the Shidi Ghat for the first time (again, as a two day trek). I read a number of blogs but most of them followed a two-day schedule, save for a trek to Bhimashankar by Sujit Mallick which he had documented as a Youtube video. I asked him what sort of schedule they followed and his super-quick reply about them doing it in a day was all the information we needed to set the ball rolling!
Note: If you attempt it as a two-day trek, you can visit Nagphani peak, Hanuman temple, Gupt Bhimashankar trail and Bombay point as well!

Since the routes in Sahyadri are dynamic by nature, we wanted to know the condition of the trail this year and hence, started getting in touch with people who had done it recently. I ‘ll be lying if I say I wasn’t disappointed cos people don’t usually bother keeping track of the little details that I tend to fret over. But one thing they were very particular about was this- Do not take the Shidi Ghat for granted.

So we doubled down and decided to cover all bases. Maps were made, exit points were identified, alternate routes from these points were noted down, detailed itinerary was shared with our backup (a person with complete information of the trek) and last but not the least, contingency plans were kept ready to take care of every eventuality.

Sounds like War? We certainly went prepared for one! 😀

Unreliable as Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is, I still kept a tab on the weather forecast. And a week out from the trek, Abhishek sends a grab of the TV screen showing this-

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English Translation: Heavy Rainfall recorded in Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary

Great! As if our families weren’t panicking enough already! 😛

Mumbai received 100+ mm rainfall on three consecutive days before the trek.  Thankfully, the heavy downpour had reduced to a drizzle by the penultimate evening and then came the sign I was waiting for- IMD released a circular warning about heavy to very heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours! Bas! I knew that very moment ki kal barish hogi hi nahi!!  😃 😝

Initially, the Gang was supposed to be 11 strong but Krunal, Anupama & Sangeeta couldn’t make it due to some reason but all three of them (And Anupama in particular cos she was our backup for the trek!) were a great help, keeping our spirits up when the rains were threatening to scupper our trek plans. If you guys are reading this post, a big Thank You to all three of you! 😊


The Morning Mania

(You can skip to “THE TREK” section without missing any useful info. Btw, this section is interesting too! Just saying :-P)

It was 3.30 in the morning when I literally killed the snooze button (& my cellphone’s screen as well! Well… almost 😝) in my enthusiasm for the trek.

Omkar was going to be the first one to board the train and a text from him at 4.15 confirmed the trains were running on schedule despite the wet spell. Soon others reached and even sent pictures of the deserted stations as if to drive home the point that I make them leave their cosy beds at ungodly hours! 😝

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Ghatkopar Station at 0500 hrs

Now it so happens that everytime I go for a trek, I reach the station well before the train’s expected time and then I have endure the agony of watching empty trains pass me by 😝

So I had decided this time that I won’t reach the platform any earlier than 10 minutes to the train’s Scheduled Time of Arrival (STA). And this rather risky plan very nearly came back to bite me! With everything packed and done, I just sat there watching the wall clock’s minute hand move until it showed 20 minutes to the train’s STA.

STA-20 minutes: It never takes me more than 15 minutes to reach the station from my place so, with a buffer of 5 minutes, I strode out like there was nothing surer in this world than me boarding that train.
STA- 15 minutes: About 200m from the Society’s gate, I found a queue of Autorickshaws waiting at the stand. Boarded one without a worry in the world. Everything was under control.

UNTIL THEN.

STA-15 Minutes to STA: Over the next 15 minutes, the driver did everything possible to make sure I didn’t reach the station in time! 😝

Arrange his wares for the long day ahead before starting the ride? Check.
Drive slower than the morning jogger moving like a zombie on the adjacent footpath? Check.
Pickup a newspaper for his morning fix of news from a vendor on the way? Check.

With my pleas to hurry up being ignored, I called up Abhishek and told him that I would not be able to board the coach they were in as I was running a “little” late and might have to board the first coach I find, that is if I make it at all (the last part was kept to myself 😝).

STA+1 minute: I have never travelled for treks without a ticket and never in my dreams thought I ‘ll, but in that moment, my life’s priorities cleared up

Treks  > Ethics of not travelling without a ticket.

With that crucial decision subconsciously made, I literally ran from the auto to the overbridge and let out a sigh of relief when I saw the indicator dispalying 1 more minute to the Expected Time of Arrival (ETA)! Never have I been so ecstatic about Central Railway’s lack of punctuality! 😃

And with another minute to spare, I darted to an ATVM machine, got myself a return ticket to Karjat and reached the platform just as the train’s twin headlights came into view round the corner! Phew! The ethical turmoil will have to wait another day! 😉


The Trek

Our train reached Neral at 0700 hrs, still 5 minutes behind schedule and we walked out the west end to the Tumtum stand, about 100 metres from the Railway station.

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A group selfie to start the day 😉

The only TumTum for Kashele was so full of people that a couple of them would have certainly fallen out at the first pothole. Abhishek and I went to the driver to enquire if there were other TumTums to Kashele but his eyes lit up as soon as he saw the two of us and even before we could speak, he began convincing us that there was space for exactly two more people in the TumTum! It was only when we told him there were 6 more with us that the people inside the vehicle let out their breaths and re-occupied the space they had created for us. 😝

He told us to wait and called up another guy who arranged a van for us (we confirmed that the van will charge the same as TumTum: 20 Rs/Seat for the 12km commute).

The Van showed up in 5 minutes and since it was meant for 10 seats, he was going to wait for 2 more passengers. Overjoyed at the prospect of a rare comfortable journey to the hinterlands, we decided to pay for the other two seats, which meant we left immediately instead of waiting for the next wave of passengers who would have arrived with the following train.

Once you cross the outskirts of Neral, the road is as good as any you ‘ll find (save for the highways) in Maharashtra. With the grey road cutting through lush green fields stretching to the horizon and the odd hut in middle of nowhere completing the postcardesque views, it remains one of the rare times I have wished the journey to a base village should have went on a little longer.

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On our way to Kashele

We reached Kashele at half past seven, paid the fare for 10 seats (200 Rs) and walked to the Kashele junction, where 5 roads meet. An elderly driver approached us and asked if we were going to Bhimashankar. We replied with a Yes and then walked straight into the only restaurant open at that hour to start the day with a round of Onion & Potato pakodas and a steaming cup of tea! Drizzle in the countryside with a plate of Pakodas and Chai! What more could one ask for!

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Kashele Junction

A Mahindra Bolero turned up in a couple of minutes and we got down to discussing the fares. Suresh bhau (whose number I have shared in the general info) said a ride to Khandas village from Kashele village (14 kms) will set us back by 300 Rs whereas for 50 Rs more, he would drop us as far as the car can go on either routes.

NOTE: We went on a weekday when the cars aren’t in much demand. If you go on a weekend, be prepared to pay much higher fares.

Starting the trek with a steep climb right off a vehicle isn’t a wise thing to do as your body needs to warm up a bit, so we decided to take the car only as far as the Khandas bridge (about 2 km from the village), leaving us with a 1.5 km level walk before the uphill stretch starts.

The road from Kashele to Khandas isn’t bad but not as good as the one till Kashele. If you aren’t careful, the potholes could leave you with a bump on your head even before starting the trek! The 20-minute ride later, we got down at the Khandas bridge and in front of us stood the majestic range of Bhimashankar.

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Top: A rivulet runs under Khandas bridge with the tar road to Ganesh Ghat on its left; Bottom: The Khandas bridge (Yellow arrow/Left: Shidi Ghat & Blue arrow/Right: Ganesh Ghat)

We paid 350 Rs to Suresh Bhau and told him we planned on returning the same day after doing both the routes. He asked us to be careful on Shidi ghat and gave us his number, in case we needed any help on any part of the route. As for the return journey, he quoted 1k for the ride to Neral from Ganesh Ghat but after some negotiation, he relented and agreed to take us back for a fare of 900 Rs (If you want to head to Karjat instead of Neral, the charges will remain 1000 Rs). With the return ride taken care of, we exchanged numbers and started off after clicking a few snaps near the bridge.

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The Khandas Bridge and 7 crazy people (8th clicked this picture! )

We turned left from there and thus started the first trek of the fourth Season Of Mountains!

The weather was as pleasant as we ever had come across- Light drizzle and a temp in the low 20’s! We came across the first settlement barely 10 minutes into the trek- A cluster of brightly coloured houses and a temple completed the quaint little hamlet.

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The temple and some houses in the hamlet

The first right after crossing the Hamlet took us onto a kuchcha road, flanked by fields on either side. Such is the sheer height of the Bhimashankar hill that only the lower plateau is visible from the road and yet it is awe inspiring! We soon passed a well and a hundred metres beyond it, the uphill climb started!

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The lower plateau of Bhimashankar and a distant glimpse of the Shidi Ghat

There’s a single trail going from the well in the plateau’s direction, so there’s little chance of losing the way here. When in doubt, keep walking along the broadest trail and you ‘ll be fine. The trail passed through a sparse forest and a four-legged friend joined us for a little while! 😊

The trail led us to a huge clearing and not knowing if we would get such an open space ahead, we decided to get ready for the heavy downpour, which seemed imminent at that point of time. And thus came out the sleeves, caps, bandana and rain covers!

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Top: Omkar carries the map as Abhishek leads the way up the trail; Bottom: The Clearing and our four legged friend!

Attention Photobugs! The clearing provides the best head-on view of the Shidi Ghat, so keep your shutter machines ready when you reach it. Numerous falls dot the entire western face of the mountain and the Shidi Ghat stands bang in the middle of two waterfalls.

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It’s the Shidi Ghat folks!

Barely 10 minutes had passed and we were back on our feet, crossing (Jumping, in my case as I intended to keep my shoes dry for as long as possible! An exercise in futility as you ‘ll read in a while) numerous small streams that cut through the trail. The sound of gushing water had been increasing steadily as we walked farther from the clearing and when the trail finally turned a little to the south, the source of the sound appeared- A gushing stream, nay almost a rivulet!

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Top: The rivulet; Bottom: Tejas, Me and the Doggie!

NOTE:  A little tidbit about my footwear! I have been using Coaster’s (A small Delhi-based company which used to manufacture excellent VFM shoes but unfortunately closed down earlier this year) Rocky pair of shoes since my first trek and hence, this was my first trek with the Action trekking shoes.

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Left: My old pair of shoes- Rocky by Coasters; Right: My current pair- Action trekking shoes

Even though it provides excellent grip on all kinds of surfaces you ‘ll find on a typical Sahyadri trek, the major downside during a monsoon trek is the amount of time it takes to dry because of the thick inner cushion which holds water.


Back to the trek! The number of people who throng even this comparatively difficult route during weekends can be gauged from the fact that a villager was busy building a stall near the rivulet!  The villager offered to guide us to the top of the Shidi Ghat but I politely declined. When Abhi is leading a trek, who needs anyone else! 😉 While the rest of the gang frolicked in the safer part of the rivulet, I struck up a conversation with the friendly guy. He told us that the region hadn’t got much of a rainfall in the last couple of days, which explained the reduced flow of the rivulet. He showed us the barren rocks, about two metres from where we stood, upto which the rivulet rises when fed by a few hours of heavy rainfall.

With the flow not threatening by any stretch of imagination, we decided to let the rope stay inside the backpack and instead crossed over by taking small, short steps. The shallow water crossing, though only 10 feet long, gave us an idea of the herculean task it must be to cross the swollen rivulet when the water rises to a height of 3 feet and width increases to a good 30 feet!

NOTE: Even when the flow does not seem fast enough, be cautious and carry a rope for safety. The riverbed is inclined in the flow’s direction, which increases the drag by a significant amount.

Flat slabs of rock on the other side separate the forest & the rivulet. Multiple trails originate from the rocks and enter the forest but the correct one is the broadest so not much to worry about. The drizzle had stopped by the time we entered the forest, which coupled with the dense canopy turned the atmosphere unbearably humid. So much for gushing about the perfect weather earlier in the day! ☹

The initial part through the forest alternates between level ground & steep zig zag trails which lead you to a small clearing, in the middle of which stands a huge boulder surrounded by neatly arranged smaller stones.

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Top: Tejas walks the level trail; Bottom: The initial steep section

A closer look at the boulder revealed the reason behind the unique arrangement- a small Shivling carved on top of it. With the mountain face (& the ladders) so close and no sign of another flat patch as far as we could see, Tejas decided to change into his shoes for a better grip over the steep climb.

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Left: The carved boulder; Right: Tejas changes into shoes in anticipation of the slippery climb

NOTE: It’s a good idea to carry a pair of light sandals along with shoes, especially on treks with long patches of dry land and the streams appearing intermittently.

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An easy but steep climb up to the ladders

10 minutes after leaving the carved boulder, we got our first glimpse of the rusting first ladder.

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The first sighting of the ladder and the kind villagers taking a breather

With the normal circuitous route blocked by a fallen tree, we had to climb by an even steeper gully with only tree roots for holds.

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Darshana is already up the steep gully as I take the first step

The first ladder is actually is two ladders (the first very steep and the latter steep, visible in the earlier picture) connected by a few welded rungs to aid the stepover. The lower part rests on a concrete base, supported in the middle by an iron pole standing on another concrete base in the middle of the rock face. Some villagers had been resting at the base of the ladder but upon seeing us panting creatures, they kindly cut short their break and continued downwards to Khandas to let us rest there instead.

Sapped by the humid conditions, we decided it was better to get in some electrolyte water before starting the climb. Abhishek was going to lead this section as he was familiar with the route and the holds at tricky places. So he went up first, followed by Tejas, Omkar, Mansi, Manish, Darshana, Shardul & Me (We had decided this order after much thought and tried to maintain it during tricky portions). The ladder’s visual may not inspire much confidence but it’s surprisingly sturdy and as long as you do don’t go bonkers and climb 5-6 people at a time, it ‘ll hold up.

NOTE: While looking up info about the trek, I had come across a trekking group’s event circular with a picture of some 10-12 trekkers sitting on the ladder’s rungs. Please avoid such photo-ops. You are not only putting your own life at risk but also weakening the structure and putting other trekkers at risk for no fault of theirs.

The first ladder gives you an amazing view of the valley and is easy to climb except for the welded rungs stepover. The first rung of higher part of the ladder actually juts beyond the welded rungs, which means you have to use your upper body strength while doing the steover. If this complex manoeuvre is freaking you out, relax! You ‘ll do it intuitively once you reach the section, so chill.

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Left: A closer look at the steeper part of the ladder. Notice the stepover between the two part of the ladder; Right: Shardul takes in the view from the upper part of the ladder

The latter part of the ladder interestingly has the greatest example of the typical Indian Jugaad- halfway up the ladder, at an elevation of 1400 ft above MSL and 200 feet above the valley, Shardul noticed a huge Godrej door lock holding a broken rung in place with the ladder’s rod!

The ladder led us to an easy rock patch which stretches all the way to the base of the cave.

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The simple rock patch after the first ladder

The second & third ladders have been propped up in the vertical gully on the left of the cave. One can enter the cave by taking a long stride from the right of the ledge between the two ladders.

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A view of the gully to the cave. Notice the flimsy second ladder Omkar is holding in place as Tata Power employees climb up the third ladder.

Meanwhile a pair of trekkers- two middle aged men working in Tata Power, whom we had spotted in the valley below while climbing the ladder, caught up with us. This ‘ll give you an idea of how the group size typically affects the climbing speed. They had covered almost twice as much ground as us in the same amount of time and hence, I asked them to go ahead while we stepped into the cave.

The cave provides an excellent view of the Khandas village in the west and of Padargad in the South. A stream from the top of the plateau falls over the cave, forming a thin curtain of water across its entire face.

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The cave with Padargad in the background

We took off again after spending some time in the water curtain, which provided some much needed respite from the humidity. The sturdier third ladder took us to the base of the scary looking rock patch seen in umpteen pictures of the Shidi Ghat.

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Tejas climbs up the sturdy third ladder

The 60 degree inclined rock patch overlooks a 200 feet drop and shouldn’t be attempted by beginners without adequate safety measures (there’s a bolt at the top of the rock patch, used by adventure groups for tying a rope to help beginners climb it safely). While it has a couple of half holds to place your feet, it’s primarily meant to be climbed using the excellent finger holds carved in the rock face.

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Left: Mansi looks on as Shardul and I turn back to look at the Padargad; Right: The rocky trail between rock patch and traverse

Another simple climb over mid-sized rocks after the patch brought us to the other highlight of the Shidi Ghat- the Traverse. While it does not have much of an exposure (less than 30 feet between the traverse and the rock bed below), the traverse is made tricky by a protruding rock, which needs to be ‘hugged’ while traversing to maintain balance, especially with heavy bags dragging you back.

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Mansi negotiates the protruding rock traverse

The traverse is followed by another easy climb through a crack between two rocks which takes one on top of the protruding rock. The next move can be a little tricky when it’s raining heavily- One needs to take a U-turn from the top of the protruding rock and at the same time, negotiate a vertical gap of about 30 inches between the first foothold and the top of the protruding rock. Okay, so you are tall and flexible enough to take a vertical step of over 30 inches. Easy for you? Nopes.

Factor in a sloper handhold and a drop of 20 feet onto the rocky bed you just climbed before the protruding rock and  you ‘ll know why I am calling it tricky.

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Left: Abhishek climbs up the crack behind the protruding rock; Right: Shardul and I climb up the final and slightly tricky rock patch

A trail from the top of this final rock patch leads you to the top of the waterfall and that’s it! We had done the Shidi Ghat! 😃
Here’s a High-Resolution picture of the entire tricky section:

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A scaled down version of the 63 Megapixel panorama of the entire Shidi Ghat (with all 3 ladders) stitched using 9 images of 16 Megapixel each, clicked later that day

Looking back, the Shidi Ghat had turned out to be an easy test. Even Abhi acknowledged that it was nowhere as difficult as he had found it the last time he had been here. But there were several reasons for that:

  1. There was only a light drizzle during the climb from first ladder to the top of the waterfall. Heavy rainfall would have made the rock patches much more slippery and strong winds would have increased the chances of rockfall, a grave danger.
  2. We have done several difficult monsoon climbs before, so our assessment might be relative to those climbs.
  3. All the warnings about the dangers of Shidi Ghat had mentally prepared us for a very tough climb; this actually made the actual climb seem easier, which btw, is a good thing cos then you can actually enjoy the experience as against freaking out when it happens vice versa.

Since the waterfall wasn’t too voluminous, we spent some more time cooling down in it before continuing by the trail going north from it.

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Some downtime 😉
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Top: A view of the Hamlet from the waterfall; Bottom: A well at the start of the trail after waterfall

The trail led us to a deserted stall and in front of us was a structure as tall as the one we had just climbed- the upper plateau of Bhimashankar!

Bhimashankar 41
A panorama of the upper plateau of Bhimashankar

Another trail originated from the stall and went east, cutting through paddy fields before taking us to a couple of stalls at the foot of a huge fallen mango tree- Chahacha Aamba!

Bhimashankar 42s
Top: Manish jumps on to the trail between the paddy fields; Bottom: Tejas walks to the stall at Chahacha Aamba where ironically, we didn’t get any Chai 😛

NOTE: Chahacha Aamba is a term by which locals refer to the point where the routes merge due to the stall serving tea to trekkers on the way to Bhimashankar.  In Marathi, Chaha means Tea & Aamba is Mango/Mango tree.

Bhimashankar 4
Map of the Shidi Ghat section

Since it was a weekday, the stall was obviously deserted and the only people nearby were the Padarwadi folks (there’s also the Pawarbaba’s Ashram- it’s marked on Google Maps) on the left of stall. The kind villagers offered us tea but as we were way behind our schedule, we had to decline it with a heavy heart. I dropped a message to Anupama updating her about our location and quickly gobbled some sandwiches before starting the most exhausting phase of the trek- The Mungi Ghat!

To read Part II of Bhimashankar trek series, click here -> Part II


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Cheers!
Keep Trekking

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61 Comments Add yours

  1. Siva Bandaru says:

    WOW 😱 ! it’s really great and are helpful for those are going for the first time on their own 🚶🏻.
    You took a lot of ground work 👷🏻‍♂️. You worth this 🏅.

    I have been via Sidhi ghat but not via Ganesh ghat.
    Keep going … 🏃🏻.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much Siva!
      Since you have been via Sidhi Ghat, I doubt you ‘ll ever want to climb by Ganesh Ghat! It’s definitely safer but also longer and has fewer elements to experience, unlike the Sidhi Ghat.
      And yes, I ‘ll try to come up with posts more often 🙂
      Cheers & Keep exploring! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Siva Bandaru says:

    Sure, I will go via ganesh ghat but, not now maybe next time

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      I ‘ll look forward to reading about your Ganesh Ghat adventure! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. debduttapaul says:

    Detailed, as usual, appreciate your sense of humour! 🙂 Just sad that you didn’t take me along. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Hey Debdutta! Thank you so much for commenting! Feels good to know someone beside me found it humourous! 😉
      And I wish you could have joined us! But our schedules were such that a weekend trek wasn’t really possible for us back then 😦 Next time pakka! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We did this trek last monsoon. From Rajmachi-Khandas-Bhimashankar. Started early in morning from rajmachi, stop over at khandas, next day to Bhimashankar… Via Ganesh ghat… It’s worth trek… This year planning for north sahyadri’s…
    Great read this post, hope to read more!…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Great to know that! You guys started from Lonavla for Rajmachi then? I am yet to do Rajmachi, next year maybe!
      And North Sahyadri has quite a lot of interesting destinations for one day treks! We were planning for Asherigad but I twisted my knee, so had to bin that plan 😦
      And Thank you so much for commenting! Makes my day when readers comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah from lonavala but reached rajmachi for sleepover to start early in the morning…
        Yes there are many places of one days… One among them is definitely Kalasubai… Then other forts in Nashik…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Nomadosauras says:

          The Kalsubai range! Absolutely!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Really informative and detailed posts…I am so glad you found us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂 Stumbled onto your blog via the Matheran post and I am glad too! 😀 Cheers! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We still have to try this one…. Thank you for such detailed coverage☺️☺️🙋

    Cheers, Charu

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      I am glad this may end up being useful to you guys! Thank you for reading and commenting!
      Cheers & Keep exploring! 🙂

      Like

      1. Absolutely! It’s always a pleasure to read your interesting write-ups!

        Like

  7. Hi N,
    Loved your post..Ah, how do I describe it? Besides being detailed, it has a surprising sense of good-will and genuine consideration for the trekkers and for the nature too 😀
    I cracked up reading your ethical turmoil ! 😀

    Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The dragon scroll idea was a great one, by the way..
      As I re-read, I realize I forgot to mention in the comment, all the little fireworks in your post..hahaha.. can’t beat you at including all the details 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Nomadosauras says:

        Thank you Ramya! I would like to believe that my interactions with people from the villages, who often live a hard life but never cease to amaze with their concern for the well being of complete strangers like us, have made me a bit more considerate and that has consequently found its way into my posts 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and more importantly for commenting! Nothing makes a blogger’s day more than a genuine comment appreciating the little things like this! 🙂
        Cheers!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yah, the villagers always are so welcome and accommodating.. Like the recipe for happiness is hidden in such places.. 😉

          I wish you many such days then! 😀

          Liked by 2 people

  8. Vinit Date says:

    Great write up dude! Very detailed blog! Your command over English is great! Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much Vinit! Your blog itself is a veritable treasure trove of information about the lesser known Sahyadri treks! Wish I was half as proficient as you in Marathi 🙂 Thanks again! Cheers!

      Like

  9. Sameer says:

    Can’t be more detailed like this! Loved your photography! Which camera do you use?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thanks a lot Sameer! We didn’t carry the DSLR for this trek, so most of the pictures have been clicked using our regular workhorses- 1/2.3″ inch sensors wale Canon and Nikon Digicams 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Amazing post on this incredible travel journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much for appreciating, Vishal! 🙂 Cheers!

      Like

  11. gunjand04 says:

    good and detailed post to refer, I must have to try this monsoon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! You have a lovely and detailed blog yourself 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. joshi daniel says:

    Looks so cool during the rainy season 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Absolutely! Monsoon has its own magic 🙂

      Like

  13. Nice blog with such details.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂

      Like

  14. K G Vivek says:

    Very well written post this is. Very informative. Appreciate it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! I love your blog too! 🙂

      Like

  15. You’ve got a nice blog here. I’ve been to the Bhimashankar area. Was staying at a hotel some miles away from the temple. The air was so pure, at night I spent 15 minutes, gazing at the star lit sky, twinkling visibly at places it seemed. I hope you had a great time. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      We had the most amazing time trekking to the temple and back! I can imagine the clear sky at night time 🙂 One can enjoy a zillion bright stars from any of the forts away from the polluted city limits and when you have your friends to share the experience, nothing comes close to it! 😀
      Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! You described it so perfectly yourself. Thank you for beautiful posts☺️ Keep writing, looking forward to them!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      That was our expression as well during the trek 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Whoa, that place looks beautiful! Hope I can visit sometime in the future (probably in my summer vacations. I didn’t exactly have many options this year and I really want to go some place nice before the boards kick in next year)!
    Thanks for the coverage! I daresay it’d be useful if I somehow manage to convince my parents to take me here : )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thanks! Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary truly is mesmerising! If you do not have prior trekking experience, I would suggest taking this trail a little later in your mountain journey 🙂 But there are plenty of easier grade treks near Mumbai that provide equally stunning vistas!
      And all the best for your boards, a year in advance! 😀
      Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. You should definitely write more posts regarding your treks. It’s a great read and very informative. Looking forward to read more ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! And yeah, a new post is long overdue. Hopefully next week! 🙂

      Like

  18. Well the monsoon season has started and your posts are compelling me to trek Sahyadris.
    Are you guying organizing treks? Or can it be done alone too? Those ladders are making me dizzy!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much for your appreciation Sreejith! Means a lot 🙂
      And nope, we don’t organise treks. We are a bunch of friends bonded by a common love for the Mountains and head for the hills whenever our schedules permit 🙂
      This particular trek can surely be attempted solo but I would recommend doing it with a reliable commercial group. Its quite popular amongst the trekking community, so you wouldn’t have a problem finding one! In case you have any more questions, feel free to ping me using the contact form. I’ll be happy to help 🙂
      Cheers!

      Like

  19. Was going through your posts. Lovely blog. I love the Shayadris in monsoons and your blog captures it’s rustic beauty and wilderness really well. Wishing the gang many many more enriching treks in the Shahyadris.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! I have only recently started trekking again after a lengthy spell away from the hills owing to an injury and your wishes mean a lot 🙂 I’ll convey the same to my partners-in-crime and wish you too the best of experiences in the Sahyadris! 😀
      Thanks again for checking out the blog! Cheers 🙂

      Like

  20. It’s very informative. You have taken care that you don’t miss a single thing. Absolutely stunning! I have been to bhimashankar via vajantri ghat and descended via bail ghat. Shidi ghat and ganesh ghat are still to be ticked!

    Like

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much Ajinkya! We had planned on doing the Vajranti Ghat-Ganesh Ghat loop last winter but things came in the way. I had read about Bail Ghat long back but had forgotten all about it! Thanks for mentioning it 🙂
      And you should definitely do the Shidi & Ganesh Ghat loop! I am sure you’ll love it!
      Cheers & Keep trekking!
      P.S When is the Vajranti & Bail Ghat trek post coming out? Would be a great help in planning that route 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really want to do the shidi ghat once, lets see how it goes.Thanks buddy, will come up with the post soon. 😊 Vajantri is simply fabulous, with majestic view enroute. Bail ghat is a steep ghat and good for descend. Will come up with that soon! Keep trekking and keep inspiring😊

        Liked by 1 person

  21. This is my one of the bucket list in this monsoon . Nice one

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thanks Ashruti! It was on my bucket list for a long time too 🙂 Looking forward to reading about your adventure in the Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary! Cheers

      Like

  22. WanderLust Adventures says:

    Amazing. Too good. We have done Bhimashankar many times, but not climbed it via Shidhi ghat. Loved your multimegapixel stitched panorama that explains the part so fantastically! Plus the GPS navigation too. Kudos. Keep up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much, Sir! Coming from a meticulous blogger like you, it’s a compliment I’ll forever treasure 🙂
      Cheers!

      Like

  23. MEHUL PATNAIK says:

    I’ve been planning to do this trek. So precisely explained!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much, Mehul!
      I look forward to reading about your experience on the Shidi Ghat 🙂
      Cheers & keep trekking!

      Like

  24. Mohd.Nooh says:

    I loved it a lot. It’s very informative. You have taken care that you don’t miss a single thing. I would like to go in June 2019, but never trek in my life. indeed i need your inputs on this matter. hoping it will be great experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂 I am glad you liked the post and hope it’ll come in handy during your adventure! 😀
      Please drop me a message using the contact form and I’ll be happy to help.
      Cheers & keep trekking!

      Like

  25. So we’ll written that it almost like I was there again 😁
    Bhimashankar really is a beautiful place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nomadosauras says:

      Thank you so much! It is indeed an enchantingly beautiful place 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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