Drive through Varandha Ghat
Tamhini Ghat is the name which most people recollect if you were to ask for the best place to drive through for watching waterfalls during the monsoon. But this is mostly because of the famous mulshi dam in its vicinity. Not many are aware of Varandha ghat. A mention of this ghat usually is accompanied by comments like “not a place to go alone”, “lonely” etc. This is what makes Varandha ghat such a wonderful place to go to.
There are lot of waterfalls in tamhini, but most of them are hidden within the thick forests on the sides of the road. In Varandha, the volume of water flow in the waterfalls are much higher. The kids along with us kept referring to them as “Milk Shake waterfalls with the dirtier ones becoming the chocolate shake waterfalls! They are also easily accessible with dozens of big ones just on the road. It was difficult to keep an eye on the road while driving with every turn bringing another waterfall into view.
How to go to Varandha Ghat from Pune: Go to Nh4 and towards the kapurhol crossing. When going from Pune, you would see the left turn for the road to Narayanpur Balaji Temple. Just 10-20 metres ahead, a small road goes to the right. You can easily miss this, so watch out for the exit after you come to the Narayanpur road. This is the road to Bhor. This is a narrow road which goes through Bhor Ghat and then a long flat section and then climbs into Varandha Ghat. If you cross Varandha ghat and get down on the other side, you would touch NH17, the Goa highway. The third point marked in the map below is the main view point.
Some points about the drive through Varandha Ghat
- Going from NH4, the last civilization is at Bhor. After that it is around 40-50 kms of wilderness. It is better to go in more than 1 vehicle as a puncture will leave you totally stranded.
- There is no network coverage for most of the distance on the ghat. We were travelling 4 cars. One of them had gone a bit ahead while we were at a waterfall. The next time we could establish contact was at Bhor after 30 kms.
- The road is narrow, though in a better condition as compared to Tamhini w.r.t potholes. But the sides of the road are jagged and you have to be careful if you go too close to the edge of the tarred section
Though there are dozens of points along the way to consume your entire time, the main view point is the Waghjai Mata mandir, where you will find many tea shops. The view (when there is no mist) is incomparable. You can see waterfalls as far as your eye can see. There is a huge valley and on the other side, there are steep cliffs. There are two huge waterfalls visible to the north east corner (as you see from the road). These are worthy enough to be named (i am sure that americans would have done so!). It was also extremely windy at this point because of the surrounding valleys. The swaying of the grass due to the wind was a sight to behold. Watch the video below. Nature at her best!
We spent a lot of time close to this view point, not exactly close to the tea shops, but just before the u-turn at the end. We came to Varandha from Nh17 and just as we turned, the whole vista spread out before us.
if you have the time and interest, you can do a round trip from Pune – go through either Tamhini or varandha ghat and come back the other way. We went through Tamhini and came back through Varandha. It takes a toll on your body and vehicle, but it is worth it