Sometimes it so happens that you want to visit someplace but are not able to do so for various reasons. For me, Mahabaleshwar was one such destination. I had planned to be here on several occasions, but the trip appeared to be jinxed and got cancelled at the last moment. Finally in early March this year, the trip did happen. For the sake of convenience of the readers, I have posted this entire trip in 4 parts. Hope you enjoy reading this. Please comment and leave your feedback
After the KothaIigad trek, it was back to the normal routine of work from home. The daily routine turned out to be boring and it was time to plan for the next trip.
It was the month of March. The temperatures were unbearable and working from home meant that the comforts of the central air conditioner of office was not available. So naturally my thoughts went towards the hill station. Beat the heat and spend some quiet times. These were the objectives of this trip.
The state of Maharashtra is blessed with tourist spots for all seasons. With the Sahayadri mountains on one side and the Arabian sea on the another, you’re spoilt for choices when it comes to selecting a destination for a trip. As it was summer month, I decided to visit a hill station. Mahabaleshwar was chosen because I had never been there. Luckily I had a weeklong leave from office and wanted to spend it completely in isolation.
Mahabaleshwar – The queen of hill stations
Mahabaleshwar is well known for its numerous rivers, magnificent cascades, and majestic peaks. The city comprises of ancient temples, boarding schools, manicured and lush green dense forest, waterfalls, hills, valleys that will take your breath away on your visit. Once, a summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British Raj, the city has British influence of in its architecture. It is a very popular hill station that offers a plethora of tourist activities and attractions to avid travelers and nature lovers.
Located around 120 kms from Pune and around 260 kms from Mumbai, the city is definitely among the most sought-after weekend getaways from metropolitan cities.
Mahabaleshwar does not have a direct rail link. Nearest railroad is Satara, 60 km. Nearby major railway junctions include Pune (120 km), and Miraj (170 km) . State-run bus services are available in these locations to Mahabaleshwar. Rail station Diwan Khavati on Kokan Railway near Khed gives a route of 60 km via Poladpur to Mahabaleshwar.
Mahabaleshwar is well connected to all the major cities via the NH 4. There are state run buses as well as the private ones that ply from Mumbai and Pune. It takes around 5 hours by bus from Mumbai.
Nearest airport are Mumbai and Pune.
Summary of my trip
Here’s a brief summary of how my trip panned out
- 3rd March : Travel to Mahabaleshwar by bus.
- 4th March : Check in at Hotel Salas Executive Mahabaleshwar and visit to Mapro Gardens and Venna Lake.
- 5th March : Sightseeing at Mahabaleshwar by cab arranged by the hotel. (Old Mahabaleshwar, Panchganga temple, Mahabaleshwar temple, Krishna temple and various points.
- 6th March : Trip to Wai by bus. Visited Dholya Ganpati temple, Shree Kashi Vishweshwar Temple, Nana Phadnavis Wada (Menavali) and Dhom Lake.
- 7th March:- Checked out of Hotel Salas Executive and checked in to The Zostel Panchgani. Visited the Table Top Mountains and roamed around Panchgani City.
- 8th March:- Visited Bhillar Village (The Village of Books) and the Parsi Point.
- 9th March: Checked out from Zostel and returned to Mumbai by bus.
I had booked my tickets and hotel well in advance. Unfortunately, some last minute changes meant that I was working on 3rd March. My bus was scheduled for 11 pm so I wrapped up early and set out for my trip. More shocks were in store, when I called up the bus driver who informed me about the change in the pick up venue. Initially the bus was supposed to pick me up from Bhandup but due to some issues, the venue had changed to Thane which was around 30 mins from the original pick up location. Luckily, I got a cab on time and reached the venue by 10.30 pm only to realise that the bus was running late. This gave me some time to have dinner. After having dinner, the long wait for the bus began. Finally the bus arrived by 11 pm. It was a ac sleeper coach and since there was nothing much to do, I settled down to sleep. We took our first break by 2.30 am and I managed to click some pics. After that I settled down for the night without knowing that my adventures were about to begin even before I reached my destination.
A breakdown that turned out to be a blessing in disguise
It has always happened with me. Every trip of mine has some misadventures associated with it. And this trip was no different. About 100 kms from Mahabaleshwar, our bus broke down. Since it was early in the morning most of us were sleeping but when the bus hadn’t moved for sometime, we woke up only to realise that the bus had broken down at 5 am and there were no replacements available. This was so frustrating but there was nothing that could be done.
I received a call from the hotel and I informed them about the issue. This was the time when the Covid lockdowns were just eased so there was not much rush. The hotel staff informed me that I could check in late which was relief. Finally after 5 hours of harrowing wait, we were picked up by Neeta travels bus. Even though my plans went for a toss, this delay turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I could now witness the climb through the Pasrani ghats from Wai. If the bus was on schedule, then we would have covered this stretch early in the morning and missed it.
The bus which picked up from Kelawade was a non-ac seater bus belonging to Neeta Travels. We started our onward journey at 10 am and pretty soon reached Wai. From Wai, the bus started its climb through the Pasrani ghat. This was scary and at the same time beautiful. The road was surrounded by high hills on one side and a deep valley on the other. Vertigo kicked in but I managed to capture some shots from the window of my bus.
I reached Mahabaleshwar at 12.30 pm (5 hours late) and checked in to Hotel Salas Executive. The hotel is situated around 10 mins walk from the ST stand.
My original plan was to check in early and visit all the places of importance on day one. But due to the delay, this was now not possible. But I still had time to visit two places in the list. So after a quick lunch, I set off to my first destination.
Some suggestions for visitors
- Mahabaleshwar is one of the most popular tourist spots and often sees large crowds during the summers and rains. So plan your trip in advance.
- You can book through numerous online sites (I did it from Makemytrip.com) so that you can get cheaper deals.
- There are numerous budget options available to suit every pocket. Ensure that you select a hotel that is located centrally so that you can cover maximum venues in a day.
- Most of the hotels have the sight seeing plans which you can avail off. My hotel arranged for a driver and a cab to take me to the important places of interest. These are available at all places and you can enquire about it when you check in. The points are very far apart and the st buses cannot be trusted with their frequency. If your hotel is booking a cab for you, this will ensure that you are able to visit all the points without delay.
- Availing private cabs can be a costly affair and you will have to use all the bargaining skills. When I visited, the tourist traffic was just picking up and the rates where exorbitant.