Bhimashankar via Shidi Ghat

I am writing this blog post to summarize my Bhimashankar trek of 9th July 2017. Mostly, when I had searched for the information for this trek, it was more or less suited for large trekking groups.
I think this blog may help individual /small group trekkers like me.

Till Bhimashankar base (Khandas):

I did this trek with Rakesh and Sameer who were coming from Pune. As I was coming from Mumbai, the plan was to meet at Karjat station where the Pune-Mumbai Sinhagad express comes at around 0800 hrs. Tip: Try to reach Karjat by 0600 hrs.

After meeting at Karjat (got out from the left end when facing Pune end), had some Chaha, Pohe and Shira outside. 
For reaching Khandas, usually larger groups take a direct ‘tum-tum’ which is convenient and time-saving. For smaller groups or individuals, one has to take a tum-tum (per seat basis) to Katav.
From there, one can get an S.T or another per seat vehicle till Kashele. Here, there could be a waiting time up to 30 mins till the vehicle owner completes his/her wish for filling the full capacity of seats. Or rather even more. Once at Kashele, you will need to take another per seat vehicle till Khandas (Waiting time there as well).
If you are short on time and more on money, you can also do a direct vehicle or buy out the remaining seats.

We took a per seat till Katav (Rs 20), then an S.T till Kashele (Rs 10) and then took the entire per seat till Khandas (Rs 250 total). We reached Khandas at around 1040 Hrs and started the climb.

Just FYI, there is also the Ganesh Ghat route which is easier but it takes more time. We had already decided to take the Shidi Ghat route for saving time and having an adventure. Just search for Shidi Ghat pics and you will know why!

This was the view when we started:

The Ascend:

As we started walking, at times there were multiple ways ahead to take and we had to rely on ‘Maushi, Shidi Ghatacha Rasta Kuthcha’ for the right direction. 
We proceeded walking for about 20 mins when we reached a stream with a group of people enjoying the splashes. Unfortunately, while crossing the stream, I got my shoes all wet. Rakya and Samya, the keen observers they are, removed theirs. And had a laugh over my plight. Their laugh was only short-lived though thanks to the rains of the future.

We were getting blazed by the heat. Quite a sudden change in climate. Had a tough one and half hours during this time. It then became cloudy and pleasant once again. After some time, we reached the first set of ladders. Your fright of height if any will be duly tested here. Also, there are a few steps broken and missing to add to the Masala. I climbed up first and saw Sameer literally looking down, slowly climbing one foot at a time, and chanting something profusely. While Rakesh was climbing, we tried all sorts of banter to make him more nervous (Please don’t try this ;) ). The part after the ladder was the most difficult of the trek. At first, we thought there was no path up ahead. Probably due to Monsoons, there might have been some damage due to rocks displacing and falling.
We somehow made way through a steep rock patch by trying to grip our shoes and faith somewhere on the rocks and made it up. I think the Shidi Ghat is an average trek overall wrt climbing risks but for this patch. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE, PLEASE AVOID THIS ROUTE, ESPECIALLY DURING THE MONSOON. After some time, we reached the second set of ladders. These were small compared to the previous ones. The first one didn’t have a good grip; when I set my foot on its first step, the ladder’s top left its resting point momentarily. Probably the upper lock wasn’t tight enough to keep it unmoved all the time. Nevertheless it was safe to climb on. After climbing the ladders, again we had to move around a bit to find a path to reach atop the high rocks above us. A guy from another group found one and hence we followed. The view was mesmerising as ever now. We could see the rains approaching.

It started raining heavily and with the kind of scenery around, it felt that this was all worth it already!
After some time, we reached a resting hut wherein they also sold tea, limbu sarbat, corn cob and Parle G biscuit packs. One can only know the true value of food and rest in such situations. Although, please carry sufficient water and food for the trek as there is nothing available till this point.
We then entered a forest type trail for quite some time.

Finally we reached the top at around 1500 hrs. After a few minutes, reached the entrance of Bhimashankar temple. We walked our way till the temple entrance but came back because of the long queue. Here, there were lot of corn, ‘kandi pedhe’ and other stalls along the path. We couldn’t resist the aroma and taste of fresh kandi pedhe and hence took ‘pav kilo’ for a nice sugar shot.
After a while, we had a wholesome Punjabi Lunch outside. An Engineer’s hunger priorities sorted for now.

Back to Pavilion:

Based on previous online searches, we had thought that we would get an S.T from the Bhimashankar stand. We did find the stand but without any sign of S.T buses. After asking a few people, we started to walk down till the parking lot which was around 2.5 kilometers. This road was very beautiful with the evergreen trees. A lot of people were walking up as well for the darshan. Saw a lot of Marwadi and Gujrati Women (A guesstimate) walking barefoot for the darshan. After reaching the parking lot, the only way to come near a public transport facility to Pune/Mumbai was to take a per seat vehicle till Manchar Bus stand (Around 60 km, Rs 100). We reached Manchar by 1830 hrs.
I got excited to see a ‘Parel’ Hirakani Nim-Araam(Semi-luxury State Transport Bus) only to see it full and leaving. And came to know it was the last bus to Mumbai for the day. Finally I was able to connect with a per seat guy to take me till Mumbai. The charges were Rs. 300 and the journey was around 4 and half hours. For Pune guys, there is a good frequency of buses till night so no worries. Only drawback is that they mostly arrive full so you may have to go standing.

We stopped for some fuel on my way back just after Manchar:

Tips:

  1. As mentioned earlier, try to reach Karjat by 0600 hrs.
  2. In this trek, we ascended from the Karjat side and came down via road through the other side. For Mumbaikars, a better way to do it would be to start early, probably start the ascend by 0730, climb via Shidi Ghat route and descend via Ganesh Ghat route (during daylight) so that one can take the Khandas > Kashele > Katav > Karjat route back.
  3. Another option (especially to avoid Shidi Ghat) is to ascend leisurely via Ganesh Ghat, stay for the night in hotels nearby Bhimashankar and again descend via Ganesh Ghat the next day.

Overall, it was one of the most memorable treks. Had a nice time with friends, nature and the rains though at the expense of a few itches whose exact nature will not be discussed here for the sake of not being improper.


Originally published at engineertreks.blogspot.com.