For the easy-going, Bhimashankar, about 275 km from Mumbai by road is a weekend getaway. For others, like us, at 3250-ft high and a 4.5-hour gruelling trek from Khandas village – it is a test of endurance for our muscles, joints and of perseverance for our minds. To reach Khandas, take the Mumbai-Pune highway till Chauk and take a left, drive 40km from Chouk via Karjat to Khandas village. From Khandas, it is an up-hill climb to the first plateau, then a trail through forests, and again an up-hill climb to the Bhimashankar plateau.
The temple on top, dedicated to Lord Shiva, dates back to 18th century. Legend is that Lord Shiva, killed Bhima, an Asura who lived there. Bhimashankar wild life sanctuary is home to a variety of endangered species of flora and fauna. The Giant Indian Squirrel is a major attraction, while the other species present include Panther, Sambar, Wild Boar, etc. The Bhima river originates from here and joins river Krishna. Trekking during the monsoons is ideal and the most enjoyable, with endless stretches of greenery right from the base, with water falls and gushing streams. But it is also the most risky.
Initially, we planned to cover only the first plateau and a hike through the forests, since trekking up to Bhimashankar and back on the same day could be a daunting task. But the enthusiasm was infectious and each had a point to prove to oneself. Even the first timers were determined.
So here it goes… Click the photos to get a bigger view.