Pune is an Indian metropolitan city, surrounded by the Sahyadri Mountains and the Western Ghats. It is also in close proximity to many small rivers that meander their way around the mountains and flow down into the valleys. There are many riverside places along the banks of these rivers that have now turned into tourist destinations. Some popular ones are:
Karjat is a weekend getaway about 100 kms from Pune. It is accessible by the Mumbai-Pune expressway. It is one of the most visited riverside tourist destination and is frequented by tourists from Mumbai and Pune. It is the perfect destination for nature lovers with lush greenery, hill trek paths and rivers. The river Ulhas has its origin near Karjat in the Western Ghats. In close proximity to Karjat, lie the Kondana Caves, housing ancient Buddhist sculptures and carvings and also other Buddhist architecture such as stupas and chaityas. Karjat is also home to many temples such as the Jain Temple, Kondeshwar Temple and the Khandoba Temple. Tourists can indulge in adventure sports like rappelling, rock climbing and bungee jumping that are run by private organizations.
Kolad is a small village in Raigad district, about 120 kms from Pune. It is along the banks of the Kundalini River. The main attraction in Kolad is white water rafting on the Kundalini River. It usually takes 2 hours to raft on the 14 km long river. Every weekend, tourists from Mumbai and Pune head out to Kolad mainly for the rafting experience. Apart from this, there are many forts of historical significance in the region such as Tala Fort and Ghosala Fort. A few kilometers from Kolad are the Kuda Caves, an example of Buddhist architectural excellence. There are ancient inscriptions and paintings on the walls of the caves, about the teachings of the Buddha; they suggest Buddhist monks must have resided in them around the 1st-2nd century B.C.
Bhimashankar is a pilgrimage center about 103 km from Pune. The Bhima River, which flows for a distance of 847 km and later merges into the Krishna River, originates here. Bhimashankar is famous for the Bhimashankar Temple; one of the most popular shrines of the Hindu God Lord Shiva in the country. Among other attractions, the Machan and the Bhima trekking trail are particularly popular among trek lovers from Pune. The scenic and lush green hills and the crisp and clean air make these trails as favorites among trekking enthusiasts. The Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary houses the Giant Indian Squirrel among other species of animals and birds. Bhimashankar doubles up as a pilgrim-cum-picnic destination for tourists from Pune. It is ideal for a weekend getaway. The best time to visit is post the monsoons and before the onset of summer.
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