Neeraj Shinde Thursday, April 08, 2010 Maharashtra
|A Scenic View Captured while travelling towards Mahabaleshwar from Panchgani (20 kms. from Mahabaleshwar)|
It was our first visit to Mahabaleshwar. It was a long weekend and we had a perfect plan for an early morning travel from Pune to the hill station. Mahabaleshwar is merely 120 kms. from Pune and approximately 290 kms. from Mumbai. Commutation is not a major problem if you are a resident of either of these two cities. Nevertheless, Mahabaleshwar is strongly connected by road to various parts of Maharashtra. The MSRTC, state transport buses ply between Pune and Mahabaleshwar almost as frequent as forty five minutes. The private luxury and volvo buses are always ready to serve you in case you happen to miss any of your scheduled vehicle. We chose to take the state transport bus from Pune.
Our journey began at 8:00 AM from the Shivajinagar bus station, Pune. A couple of hours later, we reached a place called Vaai. It is one of the most famous rural destinations of Maharashtra. The fresh smell of the recently cut crops was steadily oozing through the window and enchanting my mind. I had a look all around the road that we were continuously leaving behind. The serenity of the green farms on either side of the road was dragging me close to the nature's bust. The elevations of the roads was making me feel that we were actually climbing a mountain. We continued to struggle towards gravity leaving behind the breath-taking views of the valleys on our right. Just then, I was completely amazed to see a couple of parachute gliders flying just beside our bus.
Our journey continued to progress as our bus halted at Paachgani. Paachgani is well-known for a varied reasons - boarding schools, it's scenic beauty, para-gliding clubs etc. But it is the ever cool climate of this place that drags most of the tourists to Paachgani. Mahabaleshwar is roughly 20-25 kms. from Paachgani. We decided to spend some time here during our return from Mahabaleshwar.
After a three hour drive, we reached Mahabaleshwar. Being a place of tourist attraction, it wasn't so hard to find a hotel. Mahabaleshwar has accommodation options to suit every budget. However, tariffs and rentals tend to rise during peak seasons and long weekends. After lunch, we decided to reserve a tourist vehicle for the local sight seeing. It is not very difficult to locate the cab reservation counters for tourists. Most of the cabs follow the fixed-price package policy and would give you a clear demonstration of the places that would be covered under a specific package. I kinda like such practices wherein the chances of the tourist getting cheated are ruled out. We hired a cab and here we started our trip. The hill station has several breath-taking views each of them are known as a 'point'. Every point has it's own significance and scenic beauty. Since, it was summer time, the greenery had started to fade away but the view remained unaltered. The needle-hole point was something that intrigued me. The spot had acquired it's name due to a small cavity between two huge rocky mountains. Similarly, the Arthur point has it's very own significance and history. It is being said that King Arthur used to sit on this rock and stared at the river bed for hours in the memories of his beloved who had died at that location.
The Venna Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen in my life. If you decide to spend a relaxed afternoon time at this lake, you may like to opt for a boat ride for yourself and your loved ones. Just beside the lake, you may like to try out some adventures with a horse ride. We decided to spend our evening at the Sunset point which was one of the best sunset spots I have ever been in my life. At times, the crowd that had gathered to watch the sunset in large numbers turned me down, but I promise that the majestic view of the setting sun from this place will definitely force you to forget the world around you.
Places gaining their names from the famous temples is a very striking feature of most of the places all over India. On similar tracks, this place has adopted the name Mahabaleshwar from the old Ateebaleshwar or Mahabaleshwar temple. In the local language Marathi, the word 'Mahabaleshwar' literally means - the God with immense strength. Interestingly, the glorious history of this beautiful place can be tracked as back as year 1200.
On the second day of our stay at Mahabaleshwar, we decided to do some shopping. Sometimes I spontaneously think of Mahabaleshwar whenever I see strawberries. In other words, Mahabaleshwar is the land of strawberries. On very single step ahead in the market, you'd come across a strawberry seller flaunting bunches of freshest strawberry. As a matter of fact, these sellers are most of the times, actual strawberry farmers. I had never had such juicy and sweet strawberries ever in my life. Neither had I seen such a huge strawberry market ever before in my life. I nearly gulped 50-60 strawberries in a single day and I believe that it is still not my best.
Pleasant climatic condition has boosted fruit production in this area. The production of strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries has given rise to several fruit crush and pulp manufacturing industries. The Bagicha restaurant just on the outskirts of the main market is worth trying. You may also opt to buy a few bottles of fresh squash and crush here. Besides the restaurant also treats you a variety of falooda and other fruit drinks. I am sure that you would not forget to clean the glass off the last drop.
Hill stations such as Mahabaleshwar have always been great hangouts and a short-lived rescue from the soaring heat in our cities. It is a hard fact that every place on earth is under the threat of Global warming. Places like Mahabaleshwar are definitely refreshing and soothing but to safeguard their sanctity and serenity is what I feel is the need of the day.