Travelogue: A fun filled trip to Anandvan Resort @ Bhandardara

Bhandardara, a place I had not even heard off till recently, turned out to be one of our best holidays till date. I had recently seen this place in a friend’s Facebook updates and when we had some time at hand (in between my changing jobs), we decided to give it a try.

About 165 km from my place (about 4 hour drive), this place is almost like heaven on earth. A place you can visit all year round due to its lush green mountains, Wilson dam, Arthur Lake (also known as Pravara lake), Umbrella falls and many other points worth visiting.

We stayed at a place called Anandvan resort. There are only 2 other places worth staying – Yash Resorts and MTDC resort. The MTDC resort was in a really poor condition and was in a state of renovation. Didn’t notice Yash resort, but Anandvan is by far the best place to stay, as also rated on trip advisor.

The experience at Anandvan was just great, right from the reservation call I did. A friendly person advised on various options and shared the bank account details in which I had to make the payment. The place has cottages of various types so that families of different sizes can easily accommodate. We stayed in a one bedroom cottage, which had a sitting room, a bedroom and a private sit out. The room interiors were very soothing. A bit low on lighting, given the shortage of power and frequent cuts, but overall the greenery around, the fresh air, the warmth of people makes you fall in love with this place.

The regular checking time is at 1.00 pm and depending on the package you take, lunch could be included. Given the location of the resort, almost no other eating joint around, it is best to take the “all meals” plan so that you are sure of getting good food. The rates on the menu are on the higher side, so taking an all meals plan still works out in your favor.

We realized that we will reach late so when it was already around 2.00 pm, and we were still almost 30 km away, we called the resort to update them. The person politely responded that since we had lunch in our package, we had nothing to worry. They will make sure that we will get lunch, however late we will be. The first pleasant surprise J.

We eventually reached the resort by around 2.45 pm. The place is almost at the highest peak of the hill besides the Wilson dam and is itself made on a hill side. We checked in, but opted to go directly to eat first. As we entered the small restaurant, we immediately got a homely feeling. While the meal options say buffet, we didn’t see anything on the table. The person on the staff told us that all items will be served at our table and we were given a menu to choose the items from.

Mr. Kaul, Narendar, Rajaram, are some of the people in the restaurant that we will remember always. Narendar came to take our order and we asked him how many starters we could order and he said – “how many ever you like” (with a wide smile on his face). Mr. Kaul, the person in charge also came to us, welcomed us and said that we should treat this as our home and feel free to order whatever we liked. In fact they started making suggestions on what is good and what we should definitely try. When they realized I and daughter eat non-veg, they immediately said “you must try our chicken in black pepper” and indeed it was delicious. All their chicken and paneer dishes are just awesome. The food while is very tasty, is heavy and some items like the Chinese have a liberal helping of black pepper. It has been ages since we had such a courteous staff, which would actually feel bad if we didn’t try out all the items on the menu. Once we were telling Narendar to only bring small helping of each item and he asked us – “What is your worry? The food will go waste? Don’t worry. You just enjoy”. Another specialty is the local fish, called as 'Prem Chopra'. If you relish non-veg, you must not miss this.

The rooms are up-hill from the reception/restaurant. Ours was a climb of 120 steps and we were in A4. Cottages A type are single bedroom, B type are double bedroom. There is a T type, which is like a machan and is ideal for a couple. The largest is a 4 bedroom cottage. There is no swimming pool at the resort, something we missed in the warm weather conditions, but given the greenery, the strong winds and the pollution free air, we had other things to help us rejuvenate. They do however provide for baby pools in the private sit out space each cottage has. The club house had provision for pool table, TT table, carom table and even a badminton court that offers option to play basketball as well.

Rooms start from A1, A2 and so on with A1 being closest to the reception and A5 being the farthest (uphill). Similarly it is for B1 to B5. A and B types occupy either side of the pathway/steps going uphill. So the good part is that you can actually eat the heavy food, as you would get to digest it immediately while walking back to your room. If you have elderly people with you who have trouble walking or climbing, you would want to make sure you get the closest room, but that too will need some effort to reach.

The Arthur Lake is close by and in monsoon is a beauty to watch. Even now, when it is almost a year since the monsoon, there was sufficient water in the lake and we had a short boat ride in it. When the lake is full, it rises almost 10-15 feet higher than the current level. This is the back side of the Wilson dam.
On the front of the dam, at the base, is a garden that you go visit, and spend some time and also watch the small water fall. The garden unfortunately isn’t very clean, but the water is. Many people were enjoying taking a dip in the water here. Small kids were selling mini sized jamun and kheera.

We also visited Randha Falls, but there wasn’t much water in it at this time of the year. This place, like many other spots in Bhandardara is used frequently for film shooting.


The road closest to the resort is in the worst condition. So even a short stretch of 4-5 km easily takes 15 min to drive and my XUV proved to be the right vehicle to drive here. While monsoon season is the best time to be around here, but the roads can become lot more dangerous to drive given the bad condition and also the monsoon tends to be very heavy. In monsoon there are thousands of water falls from all the mountains surrounding this place and the lake is full, the dam has some of its gates open, giving rise of what is known as umbrella falls.

This time, in May, the weather is a bit warm, but still lot better than in Pune. However after a short drive, we did feel very thirsty and had to gulp down loads of cold water to satisfy ourselves. When roaming around, ensure that you are well equipped with water and some snacks as the place has not much to offer in terms of good shops, or hotels.

Now a bit on the drive to Bhandardara. From Kaspatewasti, you can go to Pimple Saudagar and then take the new Nashik Phata road. There is a new JRD Tata flyover built on this that gets you to the Pune Nashik Highway (N50), over the old Pune Mumbai Highway. There are two toll plaza that you would need to cross, one at Moshi and the other one at Rajgurunagar, both charging Rs 25 for a one way toll for 4 wheeler. The road till Rajgurunagar toll is 4 lane, with a divider separating the traffic in either direction. So while there is traffic (depending on the time of the day), it is still fairly good and fast drive. After Rajgurunagar, the road for some distance is just 2 lane (with 1 lane for reach direction) and this is where you end up slowing down a bit. The road is almost straight and you would cross Alandi, Chimbali, Chakan, Shiroli, Rajgurunagar, Peth etc.

If you trust in google maps, then you can follow it almost blind folded as it is extremely accurate. While going, we did just that and while we realized later that we ended up going into some narrow lanes, in-city by-lanes, but still the google map never let us down.

Near Narayangaon, the google map takes you from the shortest route via Ozar, Hivare, Otur, Bhramhanvada to Kotul, Rajur and finally after a U turn near Randha falls to Bhandardara
(be careful to not miss this U turn, else you will end up going towards Mumbai). The U turn is about 10 km from Rajur. Rajur is the only place in this vicinity after Narayangaon that has option to fill petrol/diesel. Best is to keep your car tank full when you start. The round trip was about 320 km. Add to that 20-30 more in case you plan to roam around a bit. Given the poor road conditions in some places, the very many ghats, your car is bound to give less mileage than it usually does, so stock up keeping that in mind.

The road from Narayangaon to Bhramhanvada, as shown by google maps, is almost via dry lands and very little population to see. The road is mostly single lane and you end up getting half off of the road when a vehicle is coming from opposite direction. There are numerous ghats on this route, so be well prepared in case you have a tendency of road sickness. This is a pretty long drive with almost no population in between.


This road is definitely for the more adventurous of the lot. In case you want a more comfortable drive, you should stick on to the Pune Nashik highway N50, taking the right arm of the Y junction at Narayangaon. Continue on this road all the way to Bota, crossing Alephata in between. This road is surely far better, wider and being a national highway you will get regular options of hotels and petrol pumps all the way.

Turn left at Bota towards Belapur, taking state highway 21 (MS21) and you will hit Bhramhanvada. While this road is longer than the other route, it is surely faster given the much better road here. This will also prove to be less tiring overall. There is also a small lake here, very close to the road, where you can get down and maybe even take a splash. From Bhramhanvada, you join back the same road, leading all the way to Rajur and then the U turn to Bhandardara. The hotel is about 10 km from this U turn, but it will take at least 30 min to reach given the very poor road condition, especially in the last 3-4 km. However some repair works was in progress, so maybe this will get fixed soon.

There is a short cut from Shendi village to the resort, where instead of going straight up, you take the left at the village junction, drive about 100 m and from near a school (right in front), take first left that goes up hill. The second left from near the school, actually goes to the lake from where you get to do the boat ride. The left uphill road, takes you past MTDC resort (after many twists and turns) and then leads straight to Anandvan resort. You may want to ask someone to make sure you have taken the right route, or else follow google maps. The actual road is only a little bit longer.

The road leads further to the Ratangad fort, which is a good trekking point. On the way is the Amrateshwar temple that was supposedly built by Pandavas overnight. Given the road condition and slightly warm weather, we didn’t cover some of these points, but our intention was to go and have a relaxing holiday and that we did 110% at Anandvan resort.
We will definitely be willing to go there again, and this time in or just after monsoon.

Comments

  1. Hi..I really enjoyed reading your travelogue. Bhandardara can be visited during anytime of the year, though it looks lovely in monsoons with rain soaked trees. Check out these hotels in Bhandardara.

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