Last weekend of July, people around me were planning a visit to Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, small hill stations amidst the heights of the Sahyadris mountains, about 120 km south of Pune. Fortunately I was able to plan my time so that I can travel with them. Though I had been to both these places three years back during summer, I wanted to see how different it looks in monsoon. The photos in my last post are from the same trip.
Situated at a height of 1372 m, Mahabaleshwar is one of the most popular and picturesque hill resorts in Maharashtra. The magnificent hill resort is a paradise of the tourists and honeymooners; also famous for weekend getaway. Mahableshwar has the highest rainfall in monsoon in Maharashtra. It was the summer capital of Bombay province during the British era.
Traveling in a big group has its own advantages & disadvantages. First was the hotel booking. During monsoon season, many of good hotels close down for various reasons. So, we zeroed down to MTDC. There, all the family suites & family rooms were already booked (I wonder why then some private hotels close), hence had to settle for cottage rooms. Each room had occupancy for 3 persons plus a guest at extra charge. We booked 3 such rooms at Rs 900/- per room per day. It was at 50% discount because of something called Monsoon Dhmaaka discount ! That was quite a bargain. This is how the mornings were inside the MTDC hotel complex.
He is Kamble, standing in front of the MTDC office. All in one, very helpful and punctual person.
And below is MTDC hotel complex, it becomes extremely foggy during monsoon and winters. More on this later.
Next was mode of transport. Since most of us wanted to be together, specially the kids (all between 12 to 16 years), the best option was to go for a Volvo bus. We did try for a mini bus all to ourselves but couldn’t succeed. The one way Volvo fare to Mahabaleshwar is Rs 400/- per person. The nine hour bus journey was quite comfortable with an hour break in between. AC Volvo buses are known for their comfortable airplane like seats and latest movies. 🙂 Friday night at 10 we left and reached there on Saturday morning by 7 AM. By the time we took cabs to the hotel & formally checked in, it was 8 AM. From market to hotels (within 2 KMs) is flat rate of Rs 40/- per taxi. It was drizzling throughout the journey.
By the time we all freshened up, had breakfast and negotiated the taxis to take us to various points Mahabaleshwar is famous for, it was well above 11. The deal struck for Rs 1200/- per taxi to show us two temples, three points and Pratapgarh Fort on day one and take us to Panchgani & back on day two. Quite reasonable, I must say. If you don’t have your own vehicle, hired taxis are the best option.
Mahabaleshwar’s famous “points” offer breathtaking views of valleys that are full of evergreen forests and lush undergrowth. Springs and water falls abound in the area offer lovely picnic spots. Many of these points have good motorable roads. A drive around Mahabaleshwar, the winding rides through thick foliage are an experience & most pleasant. One can also see the generously sized bungalows of another age. However, the landscape is fast changing with modern architecture.
If one really wants to enjoy nature in all its placid glory, it is a must for every visitor to take leisurely walks along these paths.
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