Andharban (or Dark Forest) is a dense forest located near Pimpri in Maharashtra, an hour and a half away from Lonavala. Andharban trek is an ideal monsoon trek, shaded for the most part, and its speciality is that it’s a descending trail all the way. This is an evergreen Sahyadri forest, covered in mist and dreamy forest landscape in the Tamhini Ghats.
The foliage is abundantly thick with cascading waterfalls as well as still water ponds. You will enjoy stunning views of Kundalika Valley and amazing species of flora and fauna. People also go night trekking in Andharban.
- Location: Pimpri, In Tamhini Ghat, Maharashtra
- Altitude: 2160 feet
- Trek Time: Approximately 5 hours (13 kilometres trail)
- Difficulty level: Easy
Best Time For Andharban Trek
Pre-monsoon, monsoon and right after a monsoon, i.e., June to September are the best months to enjoy this trek. But trekking here from October to January is a good idea too, as the forest remains as dense as ever, with added winter mist and chill, which lends it a mystical, magical air.
How To Get There
The trek starts from Pimpri village in Maharashtra.
- Road: Lonavala is around 50 kilometres away from Pimpri village. You can take a cab or a bus to Lonavala. From there you can take a cab or bus to Pimpri Village. Hire a self-drive car if you’re coming straight from Mumbai. Trekkers who are not coming from Mumbai or any of the cities located on the west of Pimpri can first reach Pune and from there, hire a private taxi to Pimpri village.
- Rail: Many trains take off from Mumbai to Lonavala and Pune. Try the Pune Intercity or Deccan Express and Udyan Express. If you’re coming from a north try, Hazrat Nizamuddin Express. Most trains from South India to Mumbai stop at Pune.
- Flight: You can also fly to Pune, which is reachable from major cities in India by flight, and then take a cab to Pimpri.
The trek starts from Pimpri Village at a place called Independent Point near Pimpri Dam. You can hire a local guide from there to guide you on the trail. The trek should start early in the morning. The initial climb will be completely shaded with dense trees and plenty of water streams and you will get to enjoy the backwaters of Bira Dam. The path will take you through the top of a wall adjoining Pimpri dam and then lead you to an open area, further ahead will be poppy fields.
You will get to enjoy the stunning views of Kundalika valley here. You will gradually enter the dark of the forest after a few winding routes. You can stop at Bhirdi village for a small refreshment break. Then the descent begins toward the Konkan route.
Past Bhirdi village, you will be trekking on a flatter ground with backwaters of Bira Dam. After crossing a river, you will start to reach Patnus village. There are eateries and lodges here where you can relax or even stay overnight. Or else, you can proceed to Pune, Lonavala or Mumbai. If you’ve hired a cab for all day, ask the driver to pick you up from Bhira Dam End Point.
- Accommodation: Overnight stay in a lodge in Patnus will cost anywhere between Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000.
- Travel: From Mumbai to Lonavala, bus fare is Rs. 500.
- Hire a self-drive car (with driver) from Pune to Pimpri for Rs. 3000 (including return). From Lonavala to Pimpri, cabs will cost you around Rs. 2000 (one-way).
- Food: Food will cost around Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000 per person, depending on where you eat.
- Andharban Trek Packages: Adventure travel providers charge from Rs. 1500 (per person) onwards for the trek.
- Other: There is Rs. 50 entrance fee at the trek entry point.
Places To Stay
You can stay at one of the lodges in Patnus village or enjoy overnight camping or lakeside camping at Bhira Dam. Alternatively, you can return to Lonavala or Pune and find a variety of budget stays and hotels there starting from Rs. 1200 to Rs. 3000. There are several forest lodges and resorts near Andharban too.
Eat a full breakfast in Pune, Lonavala, or Mumbai, whichever city you’re travelling from.
If you’re coming from Pune side, you can stop at Mulshi before Pimpri and enjoy eating authentic Maharashtrian food in nearby dhabas, especially Dream Land or Basho’s restaurant.
Coming from Lonavala, you will find many eateries and dhabas on the highway.
However, Pimpri has many local eateries you can eat at.
Places of Interest
Explore Tamhini Waterfalls, Plus Valley Trek, Devkund Waterfall and Hemant Waterfall, a few kilometres away from Pimpri, as well as Tamhini Ghat View Point and Tamhini Hill Top.
Rafting in Kundalika
Around 10 to 15 kilometres away from Tamhini Ghat, you can go water rafting in the Kundalika river.
Two hours away from Pimpri village, you can explore the scenic and luxurious spas and resorts in Lavasa or you can try a variety of adventure sports there like ziplining, swimming, lakeshore kayaking and jet skiing. Also, check out the Temghar Dam.
Between Lonavala and Pimpri route, you can explore amazing places like Sudhagad Lake and Takmak Point, Ekole Valley View, Morgiri Fort, Shivling Point, Korigad, Anghai Fort, Thanale Caves, Sarasgad Fort, Tung Fort, Lonavala Lake Waterfall, Bhushi Dam, Lohgad Fort, Kune Falls and Bhorghat.
Safety & Travel Tips
- Wear full sleeved clothes and carry an umbrella.
- Pack a couple of sandwiches or light snacks and energy bars. You might run out energy before reaching Patnus.
- Carry torches and a swiss army knife.
- Carry a sprain reliever, painkillers in case of unexpected injuries.
- First-time trekkers should hire a trek guide, lest they get lost in the woods.
- Wear high-quality trekking, canvas shoes and a comfortable backpack.
- Carry plenty of water.
- Pack a power bank.
- Begin the trek between 9 am to 10 am as it might get dark if you leave late.
- Carry mosquito repellent for night trekking or overnight camping.
- Hire a private taxi or self-drive car with driver instead of relying on public transport.
- Do not litter at all, and maintain silence and discipline so as not to disturb the local people’s peace or routine.
- Trek is not recommended for the elderly or those who may have heart conditions, asthma or low/high blood pressure.
- Be careful on steep rocks or marshy land.
Do plan a trek to the surreal Andharban during monsoon and winter to enjoy the beauty of Sahyadri at its best. Make your hotel bookings in advance during peak seasons. Please leave comments and suggestions below.