The Bhimashankar trek is a nature lover’s delight. It takes you into the heart of the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary. While monsoon is the best time to do this trek, it can also be done in other seasons. The route is scenic and thrilling. Those accustomed to trekking can try the Shidi Ghat route. For beginners, we recommend the Ganesh Ghat route, which offers splendid views.
While in the jungle, you’ll have a variety of birds, langurs and spotted dear for company. If you’re lucky, you might even get to spot a ‘shekar’ or the Malabar Giant Squirrel.
The best part of the trek is the trail to Gupt Bhimashankar, located in the middle of a stream, underneath a rock.
- Altitude: 3,400 ft
- Time taken: 3.5 hours via Shidi ghat (ladder); 4 hours via Ganesh ghat. 2 hours to descend.
- Trek gradient: Moderate
- Water sources: None. Cary 2-3 litres of water. In monsoon, you can refill your water bottles from seasonal streams.
Khandas is the base village for the Bhimashankar trek. About 500 m after crossing Khandas village, you will come across a small bridge at a T-junction. The road to the left leads to Shidi Ghat while the one to the right leads to the Ganesh Ghat walkway.
Ascent via Shidi Ghat:
The initial 20 minutes after the T-junction is an easy walk. You reach a stream in about 20 minutes. Once you cross the stream, the trail ascnds for about 40 minutes, till you reach the first ladder. Once you climb the first ladder, you quickly reach the next one. There is a cave after the second ladder where you can relax for a while. This spot offers excellent views of the valley below.
Soon after you cross ladder 3, there is a patch with huge rocks. You need to be extremely careful while traversing this section. Although not mandatory, a rope will be helpful here.
Immediately after this section, the trail joins the one that comes from Ganesh ghat. This is the half way mark. There are a few huts where locals sell refreshments.
Ascent via Ganesh Ghat:
The trail passes through dense vegetation for the initial one hour after the t-junction. This is a gradual ascent. After an hour, the trail opens out into a meadow. After 30 minutes of ascending through the meadow, it again enters a thick forest. This eventually meets the Shidi Ghat route.
The trail, after the two routes meet, is a steep climb through thick forest. It leads directly to the top, where you find the Bhimashankar temple.
Trail to Gupt Bhimashankar:
The trail to Gupt Bhimashankar begins to the right of the temple (SBI ATM). Take the walkway along the stream behind Bhimashankar temple. Within 100 metres, the trail enters a dense forest. There are arrows to show the way.
After 1 km, the trail splits. One part goes across straight a stream and the other moves parallel to the stream. Both of these lead to Gupt Bhimashankar. The first one passes Sakshi Vinayak temple on the way.
Descent via Ganesh Ghat:
The descent route is the same as ascent till the half way mark (where the routes from Ganesh Ghat and Shidi Ghat meet). The junction where the route splits is well-marked. You pass some some huts close to this junction. Take a trail to the left after crossing the huts.
The trail leads through thick forests and meadows. You see a Ganesh Mandir around 20 minutes before completing the descent. As tar road begins as soon as you reach the base.
Walk down this road for 500 metres till you reach the T-junction where you started from. Shared jeeps and autos are available here to take you to Karjat/Neral.
Points to note:
It is possible to stay overnight at the top or in the village below. Options are:
- Bhakta Niwas, inside the temple premises
- Dormitory rooms
Speak to the villagers at Khandas or near the temple for help with accommodation.
There are small stalls set up by villagers at Khandas and next to the temple. It is advisable that you carry your own food.
This trek has been researched and documented by Apoorva Karlekar.
Khandas is the base village for Bhimashankar. Khandas is 30 km from Neral and 35 km from Karjat, about 1 hour by road. Private jeeps/autos are easily available from Neral/Karjat. Bargain for a decent deal. Rs 500 from Neral to Khandas.
From Mumbai & Pune: Take a train to Neral or Karjat
From Nashik: Take a train to Karjat via Kalyan
Travel time from Mumbai: 2 hours ex Dadar
Travel time from Pune: 2 hours
Travel time from Nashik: 2.5 hours