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Tourist Places To Visit In Bhandardara
Tourists opt to visit Bhandardara as the hill station can be visited on a weekend trip, yet has a plethora of places to visit. There are ancient temples, lakes and dams, pristine mountain rivers amidst virgin green nature aplenty. Whether you would love to explore the hills or sit in the comfort of your room doing nothing but listen to the birds, Bhandardara has them all.
According to legends, Sage Agasthya spent a year in meditation on the whereabouts of Bhandardara, taking in nothing but air and water. Pleased with his devotion, Shiva and Parvathi descended on Earth and blessed the sage, leaving behind them a stream from the River Ganges, which later came to be called the Pravara River, on whose banks sit the hill town of Bhandardara.
We will give you a list of some of the most charming places that are located in and around Bhandardara.
One of the most popular tourist attractions of Bhandardara, the Wilson Dam built in 1910 by the British, over the Pravara River stands about 150 m high and is said to be the largest earthen dams ever built in India. There is a picturesque garden, with streams and lots of greenery at the base of the dam, where you could spend some quiet hours no matter what the season it is.
During the monsoons, the sluice gates of the Wilson Dam overlooking the lake, are opened and water brims over and flows down to the plains below. Tourists prefer the monsoon season just to watch the Pravara River at it splashes and gurgles along the plains.
Sage Agasthya's Ashram
Located on the banks of the Pravara River, the Agasthya Rishi ashram finds mention in the Ramayana. According to legends Rama and his brother Lakshmana visited the ashram during their period of exile to get the blessings of Sage Agasthya. The sage gifted Rama with an arrow which Rama later used in his battle with Ravana.
The Ashram is located in a very quiet pristine region and is bound of offer spiritual solace to the visitor. At the exit is the Ram Kund or the holy tank of water. The monsoon months when the Pravara River that flows nearby brims over, is considered the best time to visit the Ashram.
Amruteshwar temple is an ancient exquisite temple built by King Jhanj of the Shilahara Dynasty of kings who ruled during the 9th century. This is said to have been one of the 12 Shiva temples that were built by King Jhanj. Built of black and red stone, the Shiva temple has a beautiful Hemadpanti style of architecture, with rock carvings on the inner walls and ceilings and painstakingly crafted murals on the pillars.
Amruteshwar temple is located on the banks of the Pravara River at Ratanwadi village and is about 17 km from Bhandardara. You could travel by road to the village, though the roads are a little rough. You could also get to the village by crossing the river on a boat from Bhandardara.
Arthur Lake is one of the most charming sights of Bhandardara. Formed as a sort of a reservoir for the waters from the Wilson Dam, the lake from the Pravara River is mythologically important as it is said that Sage Agasthya did his penance in this region. Surrounded by the densely forested Sahyadri mountain ranges, the clear and pristine lake that flows about 34 km long is a lovely place to visit.
The Randha Falls that cascades down from a height of 45 ft, forms out of the Arthur Lake that is also known as Lake Arthur Hill or Bhandardara Lake. Arthur Lake is a short walk from the Bhandardara bus stand.
Harishchandragad Fort is one of the most beautiful tourist places of Bhandardara. Apart from the citadel that is said to have been built by the Kalchuri Dynasty in the 6th century, there are many caves with carvings that date back to the 11th century. The Kedareshwar cave for instance, has a 5 ft. tall Shiva Linga that sits in a pillared hall and in a pool of water.
Check out the Buddhist caves and the ancient temples of Harishchandreshwar and Nageshwar. The fort that had been under the control of the Marathas and the Mughals had also been a place of religious worship. Harishchandragad Fort which is an ideal trekking site is about 50 km from Bhandardara.
Jewels of the Fort
The Ratangad hill has a conical naturally formed peak at the top, with an opening that is 10 ft. high and 60 ft. wide, that is called Nedhe or the eye of the needle. On the hill is Ratangad Fort, an ancient stronghold that was occupied by the Marathas under Chhatrapati Shivaji and the Mughals. The fort which is called Jewels of the Fort, has a number of small temples at the top, as well as wells and two caves large enough to accommodate a group of people.
Enclosed by four gates named Trimbak, Ganesh, Hanuman and Konkan, the Ratangad Fort is a trekker’s destination, well worthy of a visit. At the base of the hill lies the village of Ratanwadi, where you would find the Amruteshwar temple. Ratangad Fort is about 23 km from Bhandardara.
Jagdamba Temple was built in the 8th century in the Hemadpanti style of architecture, with an impressive idol of Goddess Jagdamba facing the north. The temple is located on the banks of the Adhala River that is a tributary of the Pravara River. The hexagonal walls of the temple have well-crafted sculptures of female deities and dancing girls.
The temple celebrates Navaratri Utsav as well as Jatra Utsav during Chaitra Pournami in which thousands of pilgrims from Tahakari and neighboring villages participate. Along with religious processions, the 3 day festival culminates with a wrestling competition. Jagdamba Temple is in Tahakari, about 39 km from Bhandardara.
Harishchandragad Wildlife Sanctuary
The rugged, hilly terrains of Harishchandragad wildlife sanctuary belong to the Sahyadri mountain ranges. A mixture of forested lands that include moist deciduous forest, shrub savanna and semi evergreen forested lands, make the Sanctuary bliss for nature lovers.
The Sanctuary is home to a number of species of mammals including leopards, deer, sambar, jungle cats, hyenas, wolves and jackals as well as species of birds, reptiles and snakes. Mt.Kalsubai, the ultimate trekker’s paradise is located in the precincts of the Kalsubai Harishchandragad Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is in Akole, about 16 km from Bhandardara.
Among the ancient ruins of mighty fortresses of yore, the small Pabargad Fort is yet another. A short distance from Bhandardara, the Pabargad Fort which offers ample scope for trekking is a must visit. The region looks lovely during the monsoon and winter months. The fort, of which not everything remains, is still as majestic a remainder of history.
The Fort has small cisterns used for collecting water, caves and small shrines for Ganesha and Bhairav, which also gives the hill the name Bhairobagad. From the top you get a clear view of the surrounding valleys and peaks, Wilson Dam, Kalsubai and Ratangad Forts as well. Pabargad Fort that had seen through the reigns of the Marathas and the Mughals was built as a watch tower over the rich Pravara River basin.
Visit the Ghatandevi temple that is enclosed within the lush surroundings of the Western Ghats. Pilgrims and tourists out on a trip to the spectacular Western Ghats, might visit the charming little shrine for Ghatandevi, who is worshipped as the protector of the ghats. The peaks of Harihar, Trimbak and Durvar Utvad fringe the temple at the back, which is located at the front of the Tringalwadi Fort, which can be trekked up to as well.
The picturesque location and the tranquility of the place are bound to make for a lovely trip to the temple, especially in the monsoon months. The Ghatandevi temple is located on the outskirts of Igatpuri, that’s about 5 km from Igatpuri railway station and 50 km from Bhandardara.