Ever wanted to set-up your own tent and make a bonfire?
Ever wanted to go to sleep just gazing at the moon?
Ever wanted to just lie down and count the number of stars in the sky?
Then make your way to Bhandardara for a memorable weekend getaway! Bhandardara is a small town on the western ghats in Maharashtra. The Land Out There (TLOT) gives you an authentic camping experience by the beautiful Bhandardara lake, but be prepared to rough it out!
It’s an arduous journey by train till Kasara and then a bumpy but picturesque ride to the town of Shendi. At Shendi, you can savour some tasty vada pavs and chai whipped up by a chirpy and warm couple who run a small stall- Cafe Dam Corner. Their signature dish is what they call ‘Google Bhajjiyas’; I couldn’t control my curiosity and probed the owner about the name. He promptly quipped in Marathi, “It is youngsters like you who have liked my bhajjiyas and made them popular on the internet, causing many people to come and proactively ask for them, that’s why I call them Google Bhajjiyas.” Interesting!
Post the chai break, you take a short bus ride to the camping site with mountains all around you and a gorgeous view of the lake. I would recommend getting to the camping site by car, as the journey with multiple modes of transport can get exhausting. TLOT provides the tents and helps you to set them up. There are no toilets at the camping site unfortunately, to give you an authentic experience, so come prepared to answer nature’s call out in the open!
As the temperature drops in the evening, the bonfire is set up. That apart, you can also carry some Old Monk to keep you warm; works like a charm 🙂 Carry your guitar along to strum away, sing songs, dance and make merry!
Dinner involves cooking soup on the bonfire along with Maggi and some barbeque. There’s nothing like relishing a bowl of Maggi when you’re camping. Try your hand at the barbeque, relax and just take in the pure air around you, or sit by the bonfire and watch the stars come out. Unfortunately, when I visited, the sky was cloudy but otherwise it’s said to be very starry and if lucky, you can also spot a shooting star.
Go to bed gazing at the moon and the starry sky- one recommendation is to carry at least two blankets (because it gets super chilly at night) and a sleeping bag or a mat, as the surface is uneven and you won’t sleep well. Wake up early to catch the sunrise because it’s a breathtaking sight as you see the reflection of the sun in the lake. Your breakfast is some tasty poha and anda bhurji cooked in a local’s home. Yummers!! Marking a great end to a lovely weekend.
For first-timers wanting to get a taste of camping, this is ideal! Also, since TLOT takes care of the camping gear et al you can travel light and enjoy the experience. The experience is priced at Rs 1500 per person (all inclusive) and the best time to visit is between October and March.
What has been your best camping experience?