Situated in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra and covering an area of about 120km, Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is fast emerging as a popular weekend getaway from Mumbai and Pune. The area around Bhimashankar is covered with thick dense jungle and is home to the endangered giant squirrels, this wildlife protected are boasts of rich flora and fauna and offers spectacular views of its lush green forests and the Sahyadri mountain range that surrounds the sanctuary.
The place is yet to be fully discovered by the tourists and therefore still exudes a serene and rustic charm. Bhimashankar also attracts pilgrims and devotees to the sacred Jyotiralinga Temple located amidst the wilderness. Its nature trail is an easy short trek near Pune where you can soak in the natural wild beauty of the forest.
About the Destination
The Bhimashankara temple (one of 12 Jyotirlings) is a composite of old and the new structures and is built in the Nagara style of architecture. It is a modest yet graceful temple and it dates back to mid 18th century. The Shikhara of the temple was built by Nana Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji is also said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate the carrying out, of worship services. As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level.
Bhimashankar trek is known to be one of the best treks in Sahyadri ranges and this time we will be ascending via Shidi ghat (Ladder route) & descending via Ganesh ghat to make it more interesting. The forest of Bhimashankar is paradise for nature lovers as it hosts several exotic specie of wildlife and the most famous of all being the elusive rust-colored giant squirrel (Ratufa Indica Elphinstoni) — the state animal of Maharashtra.
Best Time for Bhimashankar Trek
The best time to go on a Bhimashankar Trek is during the spring and the winter season. Spring (February to March) is a magical time to explore the forests. The temperature is just right (between 15ᵒC and 31ᵒC) and the climate is dry and perfect for trekking. Winter season also is a good time for a recreational activity between November and February. But, since the day-time average temperature hovers around 20ᵒC, trekkers may want to carry jackets or woollens. During the night, the mercury level drops further to 11/ 12ᵒC.
Between June and September, the region receives seasonal rains. This time of the year is not recommended because the Western Ghats of India receives heavy rainfall (average annual precipitation 3900 mm approximately) and the climb becomes slippery and dangerous. Summertime trek is also not recommended because the humidity is high and trekking might be extremely exhausting. But daredevils can prep themselves and head to the trails if they are ready for the rains or the hot and humid season.
Tips for Bhimashankar Trek
- Trekking gear is essential. Make sure you carry a rope to climb through the steep, rugged portion with large rocks.
- The trail does not have any eateries till the point the two routes (Shidi Ghat pathway and Ganesh Ghat route) meet. This point has only a few local vendors selling refreshments for passers-by. So, trekkers must carry enough water and snacks for themselves.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers (nearest police station, hospitals and fire brigade), carry a torch, charge your mobiles completely and carry a power bank just in case.
- Wear comfortable clothing and good trekking shoes. The forests are infamous for leeches, so choose your clothing accordingly or properly tuck them to avoid any injuries. Carry a raincoat if a trek is planned during the monsoons.