The quieter you become the more you can hear, like the sound of whistling Thrush that keeps you accompanied on the winding trails through the jungles of Sahyadri. Solitude is bliss, the pure “me time” when you want to be left alone to let yourself soaked in the warmth of early morning sunshine, seating at Arthur’s seat and watching as the first rays of sun paints the green valleys in hues of golden yellow, orange and ombre shades of blue hills at distant keeps intermixes with the multi shades of canyon like structures of flat tableland of Sahyadri.
In the early morning the deep valley of river Savitri remains completely veiled under the thick mist cover and as the day progress it slowly lifts its veil to the spectacular river valley. The bareness on one side of the valley stood in stark contrast with the lush green shallow valley on the other side symbolizing the cycle of life. That’s Mahabaleshwar for you, may be touristy, off repeated and nothing to watch but as they say beauty lies in the eyes of beholder, just like that if you have an open mind, and slightly different perspective, Mahabaleshwar will charm you in many ways.
Offbeat jungle trails –
If you are like me who seek solitude in touristy places, or love to explore the jungles on your own then there are many marked jungle trails across the city of Mahabaleshwar that eventually connects all the vista points. You can start with Arthur seat trail, that runs parallel to the main road and at any point if you feel uncomfortable you can always find your way to the nearest road intersection. And if the season is misty, well you can definitely imagined yourself to be in a fairy land.
Another interesting trail is Tiger path trail that starts somewhere near Mahabaleshwar market. This one ends near Chinaman waterfall and forest is not so dense like the previous one. Walking on foot and exploring the hills of Mahabaleshwar is truly enchanting in many ways than you can imagine. You breathe in lots of fresh air, soak the rustic charm and get yourself immersed in the yore of laid back life of the villages that surrounds and crisscross the trails.
Many Vista Points –
The beauty of Sahyadri has its own charm and Mahabaleshwar offers many vista points to enjoy it. Some of them are Arthur’s seat, Echo point, Kate’s point, Wilson point for sunrise and Bombay point for sunset. Elphinstone point is perhaps one of the best one that gives spectacular view of Koyna valley. Savitri River originates from this point. Elphinstone Point also provides better view of sunset. It also provides breathtaking view of Pratapgad fort. And yes these are touristy points but as you drive your way through the Western Ghats you can find a place of your own along the winding roads where you can pause for a moment to soak the beauty of Sahyadri.
Strawberry land –
To many Mahabaleshwar is also known as land of strawberry, owing to its rich and wide cultivation of strawberries in Mahabaleshwar – Panchgani belt. So berry picking is another favorite activity that you can enjoy here. Do stop at Archie’s strawberry farm to learn few things about strawberry farming and at Cream Corner to enjoy the lush ruby red fresh strawberries with freshly whipped cream.
Devrai art village –
If you are artistically inclined person then you can also visit Devrai art village at Panchgani, the most celebrated hill station in India ever popularized by Bollywood. The sense of calm and serenity prevails throughout the art village as you walk along the path dotted with installed sculpture, lotus ponds and mini art installations.
Mahabaleshwar – Panchgani road is also dotted with go karting tracks, so if you are high on adrenaline rush you can enjoy that too.
How to reach –
Mahabaleshwar is well connected by air, road and train. However since it does not have an airport, the nearest one is at Pune, some 120 km away. As Pune is an important IT hub, getting there from other cities wouldn’t be a problem as there are plenty of flights operating in and out of the city. For cheap air tickets you can always book in advance through Clear trip.
Buses regularly ply between Mumbai and Mahabaleshwar covering a distance of 247 km as well as between Mumbai and Pune. And if you really want to drive your way through the Western Ghats that would be perhaps the best option to enjoy the scenic beauty of the place.
Mahabaleshwar offers plenty of options to suit every budget. However it is recommended to book early during the peak season that starts from March till May. However if you like me who enjoys the hills when they are completely rain soaked with glistening green everywhere, then post monsoon would be the best. In off season, you can also enjoy the luxury in best and premium hotels and resorts of the city.
Hope the serene beauty of Mahabaleshwar will charm you,