As you leave the noisy Satara highway to journey towards Mahad via Bhor, you are bound to fall in love! Not that you will find lasses on the way, but the astounding beauty of the Varandha ghat, would compel you to do so. Varandha since long has been the love at first sight for all those who come here in monsoon or otherwise.
40 km off Bhor as you drive down the state highway, nature allures you with all its charm. One is bound to be mesmerized by the Devdhar dam and the vast expanse of its backwaters. Encased by sierra, the colossal walls of the dam block the waters of the river Nira, which invite you to take a dip.
The journey then continues along a zigzag pathway, which has been constructed along the spurs of a lofty mountain. The turns are so indistinguishable that one might end up thinking he has been lingering around the same place. One might even recall the instances from the movie “In the mouth of madness” especially when driving here in the dark! The thought makes the breath catch in your throat, but no sooner does the crisscrossing end than you begin to feel better.
As you descend the road, the show begins to unfold. You do not need a signboard pointing out to heaven; you would know when you have reached the Varandha ghat. Skillfully set in the lap of the Sahyadri Range, Varandha has a charisma of its own. The towering apexes… bottomless valleys… soaring cliffs… gushing waterfalls… Varandha has it all and some more! It has, since long been a haven – a dream home for a variety of flora and fauna. Miles upon miles of verdant greens and the historic Kavlya fort hiding behind the grey clouds all contend for a glance. And mystified as never before, you don’t know where to rest your wondering gaze.
The ghat has forever been renowned for the overhanging cliffs of the Sahyadris which might want to pounce on to you anytime. You might skip a breath particularly when you turn speedily at one of the three sharp curves but the thrill is worth an experience.
Varandha is a paradise, not only during the downpour but even otherwise. However the clouds perform magic on the hills here. Dressed in colorful outfits of varying shades of green, they are all set to bequeath you a warm welcome. The ghats bathe in showers to wear a fresh look and the drive at this time takes a stout heart to bear. The rolling mist adds to the magic, creating an ambiance so romantic – you wish you had a honeymoon here every weekend!
Having endured the beauty of the ghat, Varandha must have already triggered tons of expectations in you. Just chill, for there won’t be lots to do! It is here at Varandha that you are expected to forget yourself to get intimate with nature. Don’t worry for you will find here ample time to gape around. And once you are done, do not hesitate to bestow your loved one the attention she always wanted. Take her for a long drive or simply be seated conversing with her on the green carpet and she would always appreciate the best time you ever spent together!
If you are the unlucky – or rather lucky ones to not get your beloveds here you could simply continue to bask in this blessed state. The best way to enjoy here is to take off your clothes – to the point where ‘nature’ is still what people want to see, and get under a rumbling waterfall. You might shout out loud at the instant you step in, as the water would be ice-cold. But as you get acclimatized, you would enjoy the rejuvenating hydro-massage. Once contented, drag yourself out and savor on the hot bhajiyas and tea on offer in the local tapris. There is nothing like sipping the tea standing on the edge of the vale, with cold breeze striking your bare body and you gazing at the nature trails. Take pride in showing your pals the Madhe ghat, Supenaal, Gopya ghat, and the historic Kavlya fort.
Trekking enthusiasts can take pleasure in hiking the fort or descending one of the ghats to reach Shivtharghal, the cave where Ramdas Swami is said to have recited the legendry epic The Dasbodh.
A weekend at Varandha is thus full of frolic, excitement and adventure! Come here to make friends with nature and you will certainly cherish for lifetime the moments spent here!
– Amit Chilka