Sandan Valley – Camping, cricket and fun

Sandan Valley was one of the best camping trips for a long time. With great planning we’d been able to gather a group of almost 20 of us. We started off late Friday night – 2nd March 2012 towards Sambrad. The bus journey was uneventful and we made our first pitstop at the shores of the Bhandardara lake at 5 the next morning. The weather was almost freezing, but the stunning view outside was something not to be missed. The almost-full moon was casting its silver shadow on the Bhandardara lake. We marveled at the serenity in front of us for almost an hour before moving on towards Sambrad. After a few U-turns and a bit of getting lost we reached Sambrad at around 8.

A few guys from our team wished to visit Ratangad, and they left soon after. We spent some time contemplating if we wanted to descend from the Valley into Karoli ghat. There was a little bit of rappelling involved, and not wanting to deviate even a little bit from the plan of camping we chose to not descend. We had breakfast & tea at a small house-cum-hotel and spent some time filling up water. Shortly before 10 we started walking towards the Sandan. A short walk of 30 mins, and we were at a nice camping spot amidst the trees. We dropped our bags and headed straight for the dark valley. The Sandan is a natural gorge, almost 1.5 kilometers into the mountain range, and more than 100 feet tall on either sides. Due to this, very little sunlight reaches the bottom of the valley. As we move further in, there are a few pools of chilling water and huge 20 ft boulders. Around 2pm, we reached the end of the valley, and were greeted with bright sunlight. This is the spot where you start descending into Karoli ghat, we weren’t doing that so we had to head back.

On the way back we stopped for a nap followed by tea at the water hole just before our campsite. This time was also used¬†fruitfully¬†to carve out a cricket bat out of a wood log. We skillfully carved the bat to make sure the blade had the correct angle and the grip was perfect. After carving and shaving to our hearts’ content we walked back to our campsite and unveiled the bat. Unfortunately nobody was interested and the bat did not have its fair share of glory until the next day. The later part of the evening was spent cooking, and after dinner Sushrut, our in camp expert stargazer did an amazing introduction to astronomy.

The next morning, some of us got up surprisingly early and were treated to a stunning view of the Alang-Madan-Kulang range. After tea, coffee and breafkast, we had nothing good to do and so began the great half-day international cricket match. We spent hours together playing cricket with the hand crafted bat and a tennis ball. This was followed by a round of dumb charades where everyone was dumbfounded since the actors decided to enact only Bhojpuri or B-Grade movies. I’m sure most of the names were purely made-up – ‘Hare khet ma gaay naache tukur tukur’ being one of them. Some more time was spent doing silly antics and Sachin did a dirty rendition of Vidya Balan’s excellent act from the Dirty Picture. It was soon time to pack our bags, and we left for Pune after a brief lunch halt at Akole.

A selection of photos follows –