Ever since I got back from my first real trek in the Himalayas, I’ve had an inclination towards trekking and hiking. So, every other weekend, I would take off on day treks near Pune. Some of the best memories include trekking to the Torna fort on a full-moon night to catch the sunrise from the top, hiking non-stop from morning to evening in Andharban forests while fully drenched in rain, escaping the monkeys while on a trek to Kalsubai, swimming in the clear water pool deep down in the Plus Valley, the list goes on. Each trek, I remember so vividly. It wouldn’t be fair to leave out Sandhan Valley from this list.
Known as the ‘Grand Canyon’ of western India, Sandhan Valley lies hidden in the scenic Sahyadri mountain range in Maharashtra. The naturally formed gorge is at a depth of at least 200 feet from the ground level, with some areas being as deep as 500 feet. As the sunlight cannot reach such depths, this naturally formed structure is also known as ‘The Valley of Shadows’. The canyon stretches its path to a kilometre and finally opens up to a deep valley surrounded with huge cliffs.
This was enough to convince me to head over and check it out for myself.
How to get down to the valley:
Rappelling in the Sandhan Valley is, hands down, the most exciting experience.
Reaching the bottom is no cakewalk and requires expertise. It is highly recommended to make preparations beforehand and hire a trained expert (also available in the base village of Samrad) who has access to high quality ropes and can safely reach you to the bottom and back.
Caution: For people with long hair, to avoid the hair getting stuck in the ropes while rappelling, please make sure to tie your hair up. I myself have seen a girl with long untied hair getting into serious trouble.
Also read: 7 Essential Things to Pack for a Day Hike
What to expect in Sandhan Valley:
Geological rock formations, water bodies, colourful tiny bugs, fish and soothing silence. During the non-crowded days, the valley possesses a calming vibe and you can literally hear the sound of the water dripping down the rocks. You can also choose to go till the very end of the valley to catch some breath-taking views of the mountains around. The water levels can be high during the monsoon months and the best time to visit the place is during the winter season.
Caution: Avoid falling rocks. Once you are in the valley, DO NOT stand under the person who is rappelling. Sometimes, the rocks falls off and might seriously injure you. Be super cautious and aware of your surroundings.
Also read: A Day’s Trek to Rajgad Fort- What to Expect
Places to trek near Sandhan Valley:
Kalsubai- the highest peak in Maharashtra, Ratangad, Alang, Madan, Kulang (AMK).
One question that I get asked quite often- ‘Do I trek alone?’ The answer is- no. And I wouldn’t recommend you to do so. If you are someone who has just started trekking or hiking, it is always safe to travel in a small group. That one time when I couldn’t climb up the huge rocks while trekking to the Torna fort, the times when I slipped and fell down while hiking in the Andharban forests in the peak monsoon season, or when I just needed some moral support while on a trek to Kalsubai, there was always someone.
A couple of experienced trekking organisations in Pune that organize weekend treks near Pune, Mumbai, even trekking all over Maharashtra. My recommendations would be Mountain Punters by Decathlon Pune, Zenith Odysseys, Durg Naad Trekkers, Trekism Adventures and Outdoors.