About 127 kms from Pune and 200 odd kms from Mumbai, Bhimashankar temple is located in the Ghat regions of Sahyadri Hills. This temple is a Jyotirlinga shrine, one of the 12 Jyotirlinga. A mixture of old and new structures, this temple is built in Nagara style of Architecture. This temple dates back to mid 13thh century. Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which meets River Krishna near Raichur. Standing at height of 3296 feet, the trail to this temple makes for a great trekking experience. The trail leads through wilderness, lofty peaks, and dense forests. There is also a sanctuary there called ‘Bhimashankar Sanctuary’ where a variety of birds, flowers and animals can be seen. The place makes for a fun and challenging trekking spots.
The trail for the hike starts from Khandas Village, which is about 40 km from Karjat station. From the base to Bhimashankar there are two trails – one is Ganesh Ghat route and the other is Ladder route.
From Khandas about 2km further down there is a bridge, and the track going to the right of the bridge is the Ganesh Ghat route. This route is both easiest and longest way to Bhimashankar. Around 1 hour into the trail, there is a Ganesh temple. The trail also crosses the base of Padar Killa. The trail to the top of the is about 5 to 6 hours long. At the Bhimashankar plateau there is a pond dug out called “Hanuman Tail”.
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The Ladder route is shorter and more exciting. It’s steep and slightly difficult for trekking, especially during monsoon. On the steepest part of the trail, ladders has been placed for climbing and hence the name. The left track from the bridge, 2 km further down of Khandas village, is the Ladder route. This trail crosses a well, where it turns left and goes straight to Shidi Ghat. There will around 3 ladders on the first couple of hours of the trek. Further up the two routes merges, and from the merging point the trail goes further on for about 2 hours.
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On the summit the temple stands tall. There are pillars and doors with some intricate carvings. Opposite the temple there is a huge Portuguese Ball, a war relic from the Battle of Bassein in 1739 signifying the victory of Marathas over the Portuguese. Other than the temple, the summit has the Hanuman lake, the Gupt Bhimashankar which is the origin of River of Bhima, Bombay Point, Sakshi Vinayak and Nagphani Tok. The Nagphani Tok is the highest point in Bhimashankar, and is shaped like a Cobra’s hood. That place gives a clear view of the surrounding hills, forts of the Matheran Range and Padar Killa down below.
How to get there –
The nearest station to Khandas Village is Karjat. There are regular trains arriving from Pune and Mumbai to Karjat. From Karjat to Khandas, local jeep and tumtum can be hired. Private vehicles can also be used to reach Khandas village.
Apart from the trek, Bhimashankar is also known for being a great place for camping. There are few motels and forest rest houses for staying purposes. The flat space near the temple is used for pitching tent and camping. Two routes could be alternatively used for going to Bhimashankar and coming back
Meant for –
This trek is categorized as difficult, and especially the ladder route is advised for regular trekkers. It requires a good deal of stamina and physical fitness. But the adventure is worth it, as the trail is extremely scenic and beautiful. First time trekkers are advised to trek in groups. Many travel company and trek organisers organises treks to Bhimashankar. The best time to attempt this trek is from October to March. The monsoon trek is beautiful, and difficult as well.
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