Weekend Getaway To The Land Of Strawberry : Mahabaleshwar
Sign in

Weekend Getaway to the Land Of Strawberry : Mahabaleshwar

Business Partner
See interview of Shikha  Bhangadia
Being a travel enthusiast, planning aholiday to me is to first scan the days on which the major occasions(birthdays/anniversary) falls. Fortunately, this year it was all the 3 major occasionsfalling over weekends. Could not have asked for anything better this....Really.Having celebrated the two in style, it was time to plan for the special one(despite three decades, I still like to celebrate my birthday to the hilt withsomeone really special) and having thought a lot on the location, zeroed on fora weekend trip to the beautiful land of strawberry – MAHABALESHWAR.

Best part with this place, no pains of taking holidays and searching for the cheapestpossible flights (Marwari mind after all).Laughs. All we had to do was toidentify hotel/resort and board Vento express which was a cake walk for meafter travelling to numerous places.Mahabaleshwar with its magnificentscenic view points, the perennial springs and waterfalls of Mahabaleshwarplateau along with the salubrious weather it enjoys truly lives up to itsreputation of being the 'Queen of Hills'.

At an altitude of 1372 meters, this hill stationoffers a wonderful climate and a soothing location away from home  Day 1 –(31st August 2013) -Mumbai – Vashi – >NH4 –> SH63 =>SH72 =Mahabaleshwar – Total distance – 275 km).

To ensure that we beat the crazy traffic, we set out from Mumbaiat 6:00 am and it sure was a breeze driving on the broad (no need to turn on ac,that’s another advantage to kick-start journey early in the morning), trafficfree roads. However, got somewhat stuck on Vashi bridge for some time (so ifsomeone wish to avoid this much traffic also, perhaps start even earlier by 5)The roads all along were in great shape and we covered the 230kms in just under5hours including a leisurely halt for breakfast at our favourite place – Mc Donald’s,Vashi.

After an excellent breakfast, we moved on without any further breaks.Thenthe ghat section began with narrow roads and continued right through toMahabaleshwar. As the traffic was sparse, the narrowness of the roads did notpose much of a problem. Just had to look out for the mini-trucks that weredriven by F1drivers! The ghat is steep at places and is winding which couldpose problems for people suffering from motion sickness.Before you know it, you will be facing a checkpoint where theycollect ‘Pollution tax’ from all vehicles entering Mahabaleshwar. It is at aT-junction. If you want to stay in MTDC or the PWD cottages turn right, otherwisefor all private Hotels like Club Mahindra, Citrus etc. turn left.

We had our reservation in Citrus Chambers, heritage property sowith the help of some people out in road (who were doing their job to helppeople with hotel booking) we went and checked in.Only thing there were nosignboards to be seen throughout so it is better to have your GPS on or keepasking the passer-by for the directions. Landmark for this place is AramMarg.Citrus is very close to Veena Lake and just a couple of kms away from themain market.. We were lucky enough to get the renovated suite among all theother suites available.This place is absolutely fantastic for a quiet relaxing weekend.Far away from the hustle-bustle of the cities, butbe prepared you might not want to leave the resort at all!! The suites areluxurious and comfortable and spread all over the property…there is enoughgreenery to make you feel you are living right inside the forest. If you wish to have your suite next to the restaurant to avoidwalking , then this is the suite for you…Just walk few steps , you will reachrestaurant and then further few to hit reception. . Addto that the most professional, courteous & warm staff I have EVER seen!!!They catered to our each & every request in the most professional way. Wellthere's no real downside to this place, the only upgrade that can be made is tomaintain swimming pool area.The entire place makes you feel as though you'veentered an era long gone by. You can hear the rusting of the leaves in thetrees, the soothing music in the background, bask in the sun, or simply strollalong in the vast expansive property.

Truly a heritage placePost having sumptuous lunch and power nap , we decided to go forsome sightseeing tour.Instead of taking our own car, we preferred to hire a cabinstead for sightseeing, So our driver cum guide (which we later came to knowfor the kind of information he had about the place) advised to go ahead withmonsoon points which are open (points which can be seen clearly in evening tilllate max 6:30 pm) like Kate point, Elephant Head, Needle hole point etc.So wedecided to go with him as the same was suggested by our resort representativealso.We reached a place where all these points could be seen together one afterthe other. We visited Kate’s point and Needle-hole point first. It offers you aview of Krishna valley and dam. Kate’s Point is along the Duchess Road. It isat a height of 1,290 metres. It is one of the greatest points and no touristwould like to miss it. The distance of the point is 6.8 km. The view from thepoint is clear and splendid that it was difficultto take our eyes off.Needle hole point is located near Kate's Point. One cansee a natural rock formation with a hole in between, thus giving the nameNeedle-hole. Nextwe saw The Elephant’s Head Point and it is truly one of the best points to bevisited. The cliffs which overhang resemble an elephant’s head and trunk. Thusthe point got its name as the Elephant’s Head Point.

The point renders breath-taking views of the surroundings. The mountain rangeof Sahyadri is also visible from this point and it is bewitching to watch. Itis the extreme end of the mountain range. The Lingmala Waterfall is a fantasticsight to watch. It presents an enrapturing view of cascading water. Itdisperses from the top of a steep cliff. The water falling down looks like thinsilver streaks. After spending some time with nature , clicking some pictures asthese points provide plenty of photo opportunities (In other words , it’s avisual treat )we went back to hotel as it was turning dark. And the rest of theevening followed with dinner (alacarte as per our meal plan) and my birthdaycelebrations. Day 2 (1st-September 2013) – Citrus Chambers – Panchgani Points – Wai – Pune – Lonavla –Mumbai)Next morning, we checked out at 12:00hrs had a leisurely buffetbreakfast at our resort. After some relaxation in the form of wonderfulmassages, courtesy: resort’s massage chair and clicking some resort pictures,we started our journey back home via Panchgani. Since our Panchgani points wereleft so on the return trip took the Panchgani-Wai-Pune-Lonavala-Mumbai route.

This route is longer by about 50kms but due to the expressway, it is quick andthe roads right through are very good.First spot which was hardly 4 km from ourresort was Veena Lake.It is the centre of all activity, and is filledwith people and boats…To our surprise there was not much rush as compared tothe previous evening and  we got boatalso very easily without any waiting. Best part weather was just about perfectwith no rains/sun.TheVenna lake located between the Mahabaleshwar market and Kshetra Mahabaleshwaris surely the lifeline of sorts of tourism in Mahabaleshwar as it is called bythe local people there. Mapro Garden is a well maintained production, point-of-sale andentertainment hub, in short nice place to visit. All their products were ondisplay across long counters and freely available for tasting.

The ladies atthe tasting counter took turns to prepare small portions of of the Mapro shakesor juices. At the retail counters there were teams of young men and womenexplaining the contents of each Mapro labelled jar and in the process, politelysoliciting a few of them.There is a decent café specializing in Pizzas, sandwiches and strawberry withcream, although we didn’t eat anything. The on campus chocolate factory wasmade visible through windows on one side. While walking down from one end tothe other, you could see the fundamental stages and processes involved inmaking a bar of chocolate, just from loose cocoa beans. Packaging was donebehind the scenes and the packed products (Mazaana - Mapro's new product line)fine dark chocolate) were sold on the floor below. They sell 3 varieties,chocolate coated raisins, chocolate coated cashews and chocolate coated peanutsin 2 sizes. They are reasonably priced.

I tasted and could not resist frombuying raisin flavour.Next came the wonderful spot called Table Land. To reach, onejust need to move straight and straight and simply follow the signboards (whichone rarely misses).It is the second longest mountain plateau in Asia. From hereone can get a great scenic view of Panchgani hill station it’s true that it’s a6.5 Km Long Table located at high altitude. Getting there is not an issue butparking surely is.One is definitely in for an adventurous experience as far asparking is concernedTypical of Hill station you can see the river flowing backsideand good view from the point.

One of the good point to click images and enjoythe landspaces No special drive required as it comes on way back and after fewdistance came yet another point called Sydney point – Just another point ,nothing special and one can easily avoid to stop here.After finishing most of the Panchgani’s prominent must seepoints, we head back to Mumbai with just one coffee break at CCD.Reached Mumbai at 1800hrs after a leisurely drive following arejuvenating holiday in Mahabaleshwar.Briefsnapshot of the finances incurred.
1.Citrus Resort – Rs 8500(suite) including taxes and all meals.
2.Petrol – Total distance travelled – Around 550 – Rs 2500-3000 depending on thecar/mileage.
3. Toll– Rs 300a. MSRDCVashi toll plaza – 30+30 = 60b. MSRDCKahalapur toll plaza – 165C.KhedshivapurToll Plaza- NH4 - 754.Mahabaleshwar pollution tax: INR 30/- (For Car)