While Khandala has traditionally inspired young Mumbai couples to blush at the thought of a certain kind of weekend fun that is mainly rubberized, Igatpuri has mysteriously been just a railway hub in most minds. Or, in a kinder analysis, a small town where some people take a vow of silence for many days at the famous Vipassana Center – just another hub on the way to a greater destination. But Igatpuri has all the trappings of a convincing weekend getaway from Mumbai. At an altitude of 2000 m, it is cooler than Khandala all year round, guarded by high green hills that sometimes hide their heads behind lazy mists.
In the rains, Igatpuri’s hills and deep river valleys burst into many shades of green after soaking in busy streams and brisk waterfalls. The city itself takes a backseat to this sideshow. Igatpuri is little more than a speck of civilization, on the edge of a huge, breathtaking canvas that was meant for us to gawk at and find out, perhaps on a Saturday night, that life goes on. Tight-lipped.
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Things to see and do
Igatpuri gives you two choices because there are always two kinds of people in the world. You can do absolutely nothing, get a massage, watch others swim and, of course, eat in between. Or you can descend curious valleys, fall a few times on the bright green grass, look for nameless waterfalls and get wet.
On the way to Igatpuri From Mumbai, less than 3 km from Manas Resort, which has become a landmark in this region, is the Bhatsa River Valley. It is a stunning depth of extremely happy vegetation and rocks running down a slope from the road, only to rise majestically far away again as proud hills. A river below cuts the bend in half to present the perfect cliché of “a beautiful valley,” as if a child of any talent had come up with the whole thing.
A few hundred feet before you reach Manas Resort is Ghatandevi Mandir, dedicated to the Goddess of the Ghats. The mandir is on your left if you come from Mumbai. On the right side of the highway is one of the most spectacular sights in this region – Camel Valley. It’s easy for the uninformed to miss Camel Valley. You have to walk over it and look down to find a slope that drops over 1000 feet. During the monsoons, a pregnant waterfall cuts through the rocks in a violent descent. Near this spot are a few mini plateaus that you can walk to that offer their own unique viewpoints.
In the rains, Camel Valley is full of waterfalls. Some are big and hard to miss, some have to be looked up. Keep walking and you’ll find five or more of them whizzing down the rocks and winding their way further into the valley. A railway also cuts through this valley; place a coin on the track and wait for the train to smash and extend it. This suggestion, which is superfluous to add, is not directed at minors.
About 6 km from Manas Resort is Tringalwadi Fort which has attracted trekkers especially during the rains. In the monsoon, the farmers of Tringalwadi grow their crops over an essentially rough highway leading to the base of the fort. So in the rain vehicles cannot make the last 3 or 4 km to the old fortress. But there is a narrow path for a nice long wet walk to the calm Tringalwadi Lake which looks a bit nicer from the fort. The fort itself is worth a personal exploration. A few kilometers away from Tringalwadi Lake is Talegaon Lake, created by the small Talegaon Dam. It’s only worth the trip if you really love bodies of water and the associated sounds and smells and sights.
Place A small town about 1,900 ft above sea level, embedded in the Western Ghats
Distance 140 km NE of Mumbai JOURNEY TIME By car 3 hours by train 23/4 hours
Route NH3 naar Igatpuri via Kasah Ghat, via Shahapur
When to go From June to February, without avoiding October
T/1, Paryatan Bhavan
Govt Guest House Premises, Near Golf
Club, Old Agra Road, Nashik
Tel: 0253-2570059; Fax: 2579352
STD code 02553 Van Mumbai 952553