What Is It?

You don’t have to look too far away to escape Mumbai as the Anandvan Resort in Bhandardara is just four hours away with its beautiful and peaceful lakeside view. Surrounded by lush greenery, the resort located at a scenic valley on the foothills of the Western Ghats offers gorgeous treehouses, villas, massages and so much more.

Unwind, Explore And Just Relax…

We hit the road for Anandvan really early on a Sunday morning and reached there easily by 2pm {covering approx 170 kms}. The way to Bhandardara is surprisingly smooth with a spectacular view of the surrounding Western Ghats.The road trip is an experience in itself as we crossed blue lakes, paddy fields and farmers toiling away at their patches of land on our way. Though be warned, the last leg of the journey of approximately 20km can be super uncomfortable as the roads get exceptionally bad, especially leading up to the resort.

What’s So Unique About It?

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The 11 year old resort under the direction of Mr. Puneet Anand {executive director} feels like an eco-system of its own. It offers lakeview cottages, villas to its patrons in addition to recently opened treehuouses, adding to the charm of this quaint resort. It’s nestled cozily amidst the foothills of Mount Kalsubai {also the higest peak in Maharashtra}, alongside historical landmarks like the Arthur lake and Wilson Dam, carried forward from the not-so-forgotten British era.

Beyond the rooms, there’s a spectacular sunrise view point which can be easily trekked to, an enchanting experience for the early risers. Bhandardara has a lot of trekking trails for beginners or the experienced lot and the best time for these treks, we’ve been told, is as early in the morning as possible to avoid the harsh sun of the hills.

#LBBTip: A heads up for anyone who has difficulty climbing stairs as the resort is spread out along the staircase – so if climbing in an issue, do check ahead about prior arrangements.

Why Should You Go?

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For an enriching cultural and historical travel experience, a getaway to escape from the madness of Mumbai. Bhadardara squeezes out the city person out of you and lets you inhale the fresh and peaceful calmness of the village, Shendi.

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Since it’s a tiny hamlet of a village we really enjoyed exploring the local area. They do organise exciting activities that we decided to join in. For starters, Arthur’s lake near the resort has regular boating so off we went to enjoy the clear blue waters and explore Amruteshwar Temple in Ratanwadi which is about 20 minutes on a speedboat.

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Amruteshwar Temple dates back to the time of Pandavas {the myth is it was built by them}, a temple that houses the Shiva shrine. The most fascinating temple of all in Ratanwadi – it’s built out of black carved stones, which at first look transport you to Hampi. The fishing community is so used to tourists flocking to the temple that they offer tea and food at their humble huts. A long serving Pujari {priest} of the temple who also comes from the line of priests, offered to make us his special tea – the traditional way – slow brewed on a coal stove. Perhaps one of the most memorable experience of the entire trip, we headed back happy, sweetened and satisfied.

What We Loved

The facilities at the resort. From their massive club house {for recreational purposes that has badminton, basketball to pool} to their multi-cuisine restaurant, The Oak, we found the resort to be a comfortable stay. Love Kerala massages and want to unknot the stress of the city life? Head to Ayurvan for good old full body massages {starting at INR 600}. They have suites and villas of all sorts with 16 in total that are up for grabs, so book early and book well.

#LBBTip: During the monsoon, the resort and the village lits up with its greenery even more, with the cascading waterfalls around the resort that jump up to life. So we’re saying, if you love the rain, maybe head there during the monsoon.

Anything Else?

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Want a bonfire under the bright stars at night whilst sipping away on your whiskey on the rocks? They’ll set it up for you. In fact, if you truly want the local’s experience, we highly recommend to try out the local Maharashtrian food prepared by their go-to-local cook, Vithabai. One can enjoy freshly cooked piping hot food by her on the Oak lawns, just gazing out at the gorgeous stars.

The restaurant often has a massive buffet spread, and may we add all kudos to the Chef who cooks the food proper North-Indian style. It takes us back to the delicious Mughlai cuisine of Delhi, except we were in the remotest parts of Bhandardara.

Other activities include a guided walk through their organic kitchen {pick out your tomatoes if you wish}, fishing at the lake, guided walk through the forest, bullock cart ride, tea/coffee, bonfire and more.

So, We’re Saying…

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The resort is an all encompassing luxury holiday sans the expenses needed to afford one. We got back rejuvenated but by Monday had major withdrawal symptoms sitting on our desks. Did you see our cottage view? #TakeUsBack

Packages: INR 5,000 upwards {for their standard villa inclusive of breakfast which can be booked on goibibo here.

Others: INR 13,000 per night for a lakeview cottage from Monday to Thursday {inclusive of activities and all three meals}, INR 13,500 per night on Weekends {Friday, Saturday & Sunday}. INR 13,500 per night for a treehouse {all inclusive}.

Photos: Jayati Bhola/LBB