'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Drive To Shivthar Ghali

Note: Shivthar is a minor river that originates somewhere to the south of Pune. It plunges several hundred feet into the plains of Konkan in a three-stage waterfall. At the very bottom of this fall, called 'Shivthar Ghali', there is a cave where Samarth Ramdas, the 17th century saint used to meditate; and here, he is also believed to have dictated his 'Dasbodh' to disciple and scribe Kalyan Swami.

It is a Sunday during a break in the monsoon. The weather is clear and we are tempted to go on a long drive. The first hour is spent in getting beyond city limits, then one painfully struggles thru Katraj Ghat onto the highway to Satara. Half an hour of driving pleasure and it is time to branch out onto the road to Mahad. The countryside is scenic, with fresh greenery and beds of wild flowers, mostly yellow smithea and cosmas; in the distance are the hill-forts of Purandar, Rajgad and Torna - silhouetted in a very dark blue against the clear sky.

The road condition progressively deteriorates as one approaches Varandha ghat, at the western rim of the Deccan. The views from here are very impressive. The sharply stepped edges of the 'Deccan trap' are hidden in the soft green folds of monsoon vegetation; the Mahabaleshwar plateau appears far to the south, resembling in profile a huge blue ship - with the sharply rising corner of Arthur Seat as its prow; to the north, one can see several seasonal streams plunging down into Konkan and farther away, a chain of hill forts from Raigad to Rajgad. It is a 6 kilometer branch road from the Mahad highway to the bottom of Shivthar Ghali - very harsh conditions for anything more delicate than an SUV!

Shivthar itself is a letdown. The waterfall, though impressive from a distance, is rather skimpy up close. The cave has been converted into a modern shrine - there are near life-size statues of Ramdas and Kalyan Swami and lots of bathroom tiles and plenty of concrete all around. Overall, the place is no longer the meditative retreat it probably was for Ramdas - not really the place to unwind after four full hours of rigorous driving on mostly substandard roads. And it is also very hot - and stifling in the moisture laden air of the coastal plains. We quickly begin the return leg of the journey, up the ghat into the open, free-flowing winds of the Deccan and back home.


  • At 10:54 PM, Blogger Hiren said…

    Some things in life faltter to decieve. We had also gone to Tattapani near chail with a similar experience.

  • At 4:22 AM, Blogger Ananya said…

    Well I remember visiting this place some years back. The place was scenic. I remember clearly the waterfall which was in full throttle and a staple lunch of Bhakri. It was awesome. I guess things change over the time for better or worse.In fact we enjoyed the drive in the ghats in the drizzle at that time.

  • At 3:14 AM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said…

    thanks hiren, for visiting.

    ananya, shivthar being a letdown to us might have to do with the timing. we were there at midday on a bright hot humid day. if it were raining, the 'mahaul' could have been different. moreover, we did not try to climb up the cliff - there is a trail that takes you halfway up the waterfall and perhaps beyond - and things would have been different up there.

    nevertheless the cave has indeed been cluttered up with concrete and stuff :(

    thanks for visiting.

  • At 9:31 PM, Blogger Sanjay said…


    Planning to visit Varandhe Ghat and Shivthar Ghal from Mumbai tomorrow (Diwali Sunday). The objective is simply to go for a long drive, and see some new place. Your information was useful, to set our expectations right! Will write about it on my blog when I am back.

  • At 10:27 PM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said…

    hi sanjay,

    hope your varandha trip was rewarding.

  • At 11:51 PM, Blogger Sanjay said…

    Yes, my drive through Varandhe was very rewarding. We did not get the time to explore Shivthar Ghal though...The roads were not great, but they were definitely not bad. In fact, we absolutely loved the drive from Varandha to Bhor, along the banks of Lake Purandhar. You can read more about it on my blog -

  • At 3:36 AM, Blogger Unmesh Patil said…

    I share your feelings about Shivthar Ghal. Maybe it was wrong idea on my part to visit it in April! The worst part was the 2kms downhill trip from Sunebhauwadi phata to Shivthar Ghal. There is no road but only mud and rocks.
    But visiting it after the rains would be good I guess.


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