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Andharban: The Dark Forest

“Yeh baarish ka mausam mujhe ghar par baithne nahi deta (the monsoon doesn’t let me sit at home)”. This year monsoon stayed for quite a long time, so how could I miss the opportunity! It felt as if I was wasting my precious baarish time just sulking around. On 7th September,2019, the traveler in me just came out.I looked up for the treks for the next day (Sunday) and thankfully found the one that was on top of my bucket list; the Andharban Trek. It was organized by Pune Travel Club (last time I went my first ever trek to Visapur Fort with the same Club). Without a second thought, I paid the amount (Rs.1250 per person) and then asked my sister, my bestie, my cousin and as expected, everyone was too lazy to go.

The Perfect 'Me' TIme

Heavenly View

I packed my bag as I had to leave early at 6.00am in the morning the next day for Andharban. PTC had provided a private bus to reach the base village (Pimpri village) as well as breakfast and lunch from their side. The bus picked up from 3 points, one of which was Wakad. I reached and met the organizer Sachin and Yogesh. It was still dark and those who were inside the bus were sleeping. While sitting, I thought to myself, “why do I not like to be in the comfort zone? is this the right decision? what if this Andharban trip is not worth it? will I make any friend or what if I am not able to go to the office tomorrow?” Oh dear! I was just lost in it when all other members joined in and the bus started by 6.45am. It was the perfect ‘me’ time; sitting beside the window seat, chilly weather, beautiful road and nice songs at the back.

For Andharban trek, we passed through Lavasa Road to Mulshi and somewhere at 25km from Pune, stopped at a beautiful cafe for breakfast at around 8.00am. There were dark grey clouds as we hopped out of the bus to fill our stomach. Forget about the breakfast, my stomach was already half-filled by the beauty of the place. As we had Poha and a hot tea, everyone said hi, hello to each other and in no time, I became popular as Arya Stark! After breakfast, everyone was pretty energized and comfortable and hence the volume of songs on the bus went up. I was sitting quietly, enjoying and laughing, pulling down the window glasses, feeling the cool breeze and humming the song at full voice.

Ganpati Bappa Moraya!


At around 9.00am, we reached Pimpri village and met our local guide (local guides are the ones who are well acquainted with the Andharban trail and they live either in Pimpri village or near Bhira dam). Everyone got down and had a short introduction (we were a group of 13 people) as well as necessary precautions that had to be taken. Shouting “Ganpati Bappa Moraya” we started our journey to Andharban; local guide being on the front and Sachin at the last.

The Andharban trek is a 13km trek that starts from Pimpri village and ends near the Bhira dam. To and fro is not possible on the same day, hence, Sachin had instructed the driver to reach directly near the dam.

Very Close to Nature

Before entering the jungle, we had to show the entry tickets (PTC had taken online tickets for 13 members) after which the trek started. Firstly, we came across a green plain stretch with fog surrounding you. The view was so satisfying; it reminded me of the quote “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order”. Beneath our feet, was the muddy water and slippery black rocks due to which the chances of slipping were high. The rain had stopped but the fog was hiding away the real beauty of the valley. We could hear the sound of a waterfall and as we approached near to it, we saw a giant milky waterfall, flowing at a scary speed. I was just behind the local guide and as soon as I saw him crossing the waterfall, I was hell scared! The flow was massive, the rocks were damn slippery and every step had to be taken very cautiously otherwise you could be flown away with water. I held the guide’s hand tightly (he was standing in the middle of the waterfall) and crossing it was a huge victory for me.

As I was on the other side; I thought I was safe, but you know trekking without an adventure is useless. Guide bhaiya indicated me to move forward as another group was approaching and there was less space to stand. I looked back and could not see a proper trail to go; then I saw a man going through those giant waterfalls to reach the trail. Oh God! there was no one in front of me and I had to move ahead alone, without any support and that among the waterfall. I said “Jai Mata Di” and started, carefully watching the rocks and ignoring the waterfall. See, this might not be the big deal for everyone, but that I day I was proud of myself to overcome the fear and move on without any support; I felt like dancing literally.

To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles!!

During the walk to Andharban, everyone became pretty comfortable with each other and I felt as if I was with my group. The wait was over and we finally entered the dark forest of Andharban! Dark clouds, giant old trees standing on both the sides, muddy water flowing with small crabs running, broken huge branches blocking the way, small pebbles, and huge rocks to climb on, heavy rain slapping the face and the sound of the waterfall; it was all there! What else could I demand? There were very narrow paths with wild bushes hanging on both sides. The views were so scenic, I had seen a proper jungle with my eyes for the first time and after every few steps, I couldn’t restrain myself from taking pictures. Andharban is a real jungle trek with diversified flora and fauna all the way. And let me quench your curiosity by telling you that there are wolves and bear deep inside the forest (this information was provided by our organizer Sachin). Hence, please don’t dare to go alone as the path is very much confusing, especially in monsoon when it’s foggy.

This was girls' washroom at a distance of 1 km from the lunch spot.

We had walked in the Andharban jungle for almost 9kms by 1.00pm and yet I wasn’t tired because mother nature kept me engaged in surprising at every step. After the dark forest, we again came across a beautiful plain land, with a scenic foggy valley. I couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful valley as the clouds allowed me to do so. We sat there for a few moments and then resumed our journey to a small village for lunch. It was so fascinating to have lunch amongst the woods. The moment I sat on the chair for lunch, I realized my legs felt so much relieved. We had a simple yet tasty lunch, sat there for some time to relax our body because the rest of the journey was dangerous descend of 4km.

The descend of Andharban trek was a real challenge indeed! There were huge rocks with green algae spread on it and water flowing through it !“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” Descending was my second big fear, but this time I decided to confront it without any support. The most difficult part is when you have specs and its raining; the fog around you plus the fog in your specs, deadly combination! It doesn’t allow you to see properly, yet your girl managed to step very carefully and did not fall even once. The descending trail was equally mesmerizing but 80% of the concentration was to watch on our steps! The rain had stopped, the weather was stunning, still, we all were sweating like hell because of the raincoats and the shram (hard work) involved in descending.

The brakes of my legs had started to fail at around 4.00pm when suddenly the local guide announced the end of the Andharban Trek! Yippee! It was as if we conquered the Everest. In the end, was a nice waterfall trail that was safe and easy to cross. I was too tired to stand for another minute, hence sat upon a rock and quietly summarized my day, grasping everything that nature bestowed on me that day. Again it reminds me of the quote “after a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value.” There was a tiny bridge made out of a huge branch for those who did not want to go through the waterfall trail. My group members enjoyed that waterfall trail to the fullest and I was enjoying that a lot. Afterward, we walked for another 1km towards our bus.

Driving on the Dark Road

Though the body was deadly tired, my soul was completely happy and satisfied with completing the most awaited Andharban trek. We started to head back towards Pune (which was 100kms). It had become dark and the road conditions were too bad for anyone to sleep. Hence, again the songs were on and after having small snacks, everyone was energized again. It was raining outside, all the windows were closed, no streetlights along the way, dark night; perfect time for horror stories! So Akash came up with this idea and even started narrating real-life incidents. Suddenly the driver stopped the vehicle out of nowhere, all went quiet, watching the driver; the driver shouted out “Chodh Mujhe,chodh mujhe (leave me, leave me)” …Oh, Lord! Everyone jumped out of their seats and had no idea what was happening. The driver turned back and laughed out loud and then we realized that it was a prank!! Shit! everyone’s heart was almost in their mouth, including me. It was scary and the best prank I had ever experienced till now!

By 9.30pm I reached my stop and Andharban trek was over with lots of good memories. A piece of my heart will always reside in that dark forest for sure. Going with an unknown group always helps in making new friends from every region and every field. Like this time, I had two Gujarati friends, one Marine Engineer, one NGO teacher, two cuties who were studying Law from Symbiosis College, two dhinchak guys from Kolhapur, a quiet south Indian guy and a fantastic organizer!

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than trees.”

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  • Yogesh Patil
    September 14, 2019

    This blog shows a good example of how nicely thoughts can be organised in simpler manner.
    For a new reader who has never seen andharban can easily imagine the fun you had .
    Nice blog Arya Stark keep travelling keep blogging

  • Yashvi patel
    July 23, 2020

    I like your writing skills very much. How did you start this blogging. I want to try it.Please tell me who are those two Gujratis


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