Category Archives: Mahableshwar

Top 10 Places To Visit In Mahabaleshwar With Your Family

Planning a weekend getaway from Mumbai or Pune? Have you considered visiting Mahabaleshwar?

A small, peaceful hill station, located in the Satara district of Maharashtra, Mahabaleshwar has long been considered a summer getaway destination by vacationers since British colonial rule.

It was, in fact, regarded as the summer capital for the Bombay (now Mumbai) province during those times.

© Priya Florence Shah

Mahabaleshwar offers a soothing climate to travellers all year round. However, in the monsoon, it does experience quite heavy rainfall.

In summers, you can easily spend a weekend chilling out in some of the most beautiful resorts and hotels located in Mahabaleshwar, far away from the hectic city life of Mumbai and Pune.

In this article, we list some of the best places to visit in Mahabaleshwar for a family vacation.  These Mahabaleshwar points of interest are characterised by picturesque views, lush green vegetations, historic sites, and an overall sense of rejuvenation.

Even if you are planning for a 5 to 7-day vacation, you will not fall short of places to see and things to do.

Before we get into the details of Mahabaleshwar tourist spots, let us give you an idea about recent developments in Mahabaleshwar tourism.

Eco-Tourism in Mahabaleshwar

Recently, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has taken the initiative to develop eco-tourism by providing bicycles for tourists in Ganpatipule and Mahabaleshwar.

Cycling posts have been created with the help of local tour operators, where the tourists can hire bicycles to move around at the rate of INR 20 for an hour, and INR 100 for 24 hours.

Gear bicycles are also available for tourists at the rate of INR 100 for 1 hour, keeping in mind the hilly terrain of Mahabaleshwar.

This step towards preserving sustainability has been lauded by all, as it is believed to have an impact in reducing pollution in the region. So, if you’re planning a Mahabaleshwar trip, don’t forget to include cycling gear in your luggage.

Top 10 Can’t-Miss Mahabaleshwar Attractions

Here’s a list of 10 of the best places to see in Mahabaleshwar.

  1. The Mapro Garden

If you’re visiting Mahabaleshwar with your children, the Mapro Garden should be the first place you see.

Established in 1959, this scenic garden park has its own chocolate factory, a separate children’s play area and a restaurant serving delicious cuisine. It is best to visit the Mapro Garden in Easter, because of the Annual Strawberry Festival held during this time.

The strawberry pizzas, bhel, and sandwiches available here will leave you yearning for more. Besides, hundreds of farmers bring their fresh produce and offer them to tourists for free.

  1. The Venna Lake

Built by Shri Appasaheb Maharaj, a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, in the year 1942, this serene lake, surrounded by lush greenery on all sides, covers an area of 28 acres.

By Ganesh G (Ganeshrg) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the most popular places on the Mahabaleshwar points list for tourists, it offers exciting activities, ranging from boating to horse rides.

Although it was primarily built by the ruler to cater to the water needs of the area, it has become a tourist hot spot since independence.

  1. Connaught Peak

One of the best Mahabaleshwar picnic spots, the Connaught Peak (1,400 metres) was renamed after the Duke Connaught, as it was initially called Mount Olympia.

With no entry fee, you can enjoy panoramic views of Krishna Valley, Venna Lake, Panchgani, Pratapgarh, and Pasarani, not to forget the amazing sunrise and sunset views that can leave you spellbound.

  1. The Mahabaleshwar Temple

Lord Mahabaleshwar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, has been a holy shrine for the Maratha warriors.

Its 6-foot long ‘Shiva Lingam’, and the belongings of Lord Shiva like his ‘damru’, his bed, his ‘trishula’, carvings of the sacred bull and ‘Kalbhairava’, are the main attractions for Hindu pilgrims from all over the country.

However, the temple’s serene and spiritual environs, which depicts the calmness of the Great Lord is also a remarkable experience for general tourists.

  1. Chinaman’s Fall

Your trip to Mahabaleshwar will be incomplete without visiting his fascinating point, the Chinaman’s Fall, named after the Chinese prison located nearby.

In the monsoon season, the breathtaking view of the descent can leave you awestruck. It is also a favourable picnic spot for families with children. However, do not forget to carry extra clothes for your toddlers, in case they get wet.

  1. Elephant’s Head Point

Sightseeing in Mahabaleshwar is incomplete without visiting the Elephant’s Head Point (also called Needle Hole Point), especially because of its green surroundings and the ecstatic views of the Sahyadri range.

Rishabh Tatiraju [CC BY-SA 3.0]
The rocks on this site take the shape of an elephant’s head and its trunk, giving the tourist hot spot its unique name. Founded in 1930 by Dr Murray, the site is considered to be one of the best picnic spots in the region.

  1. Krishnabai Temple

The temple is known to be the origin of the Krishna River, whose significance in the Hindu culture is overlooked by many.

Karthik Easvur [CC BY-SA 4.0]
This serene and beautiful temple in the woods looks best in the monsoon when it is covered in moss with lush green vegetation all around. You have to take a walk through the woods, following the trail from the Panchaganga temple to reach here.

  1. Tableland

Mostly preferred by filmmakers for its marvellous views and soothing weather conditions, the Tableland plateau is considered the second longest one in Asia.

It is covered by evergreen vegetation, a treat to the eyes of the nature lovers, and it is also regarded as a ‘trekker’s paradise, because of its pleasant climate.

  1. Pratapgad Fort

One of the most popular places to visit near Mahabaleshwar, the Pratapgad Fort is located at a distance of 20 kilometres from the Mahabaleshwar hill station.

Neeraj Rane [CC BY-SA 4.0]
The ruins of the fort, which was built by the fierce Maratha rulers in 1665, lures tourists because of its exotic location on the top of a hill, its historic value and the breathtaking views it offers.

  1. Tapola

Also known as Mini Kashmir, Tapola is located at a distance of 25 kilometres from Mahabaleshwar and boasts of rich scenic beauty.

It is picturesque, serene and well-maintained throughout with a lake called the Shivsagar Lake, which is the main attraction of the place.

You can enjoy some water scooters, boating, kayaking and even swimming in the lake. Tapola also offers an exotic jungle trek to Vasota Fort, if you wish to opt for some adventure along the way.

Where to Stay in Mahabaleshwar

There are plenty of good hotels and resorts in and around the Mahabaleshwar hill station to stay with your family. Many of the resorts in Mahabaleshwar offer exquisite natural views from most of the rooms.

Some of the best hotels in Mahabaleshwar are located on the Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani road and the Satara road. However, if you’re an explorer by heart, you can always go camping and live in tents to satisfy your adventurous spirit.

You can plan a short weekend getaway from Pune or Mumbai to Mahabaleshwar when you do your Mahabaleshwar booking.

But if you’re willing to take a week off, head to Pune, from where you can take a road trip to Mahabaleshwar and explore other places near Mahabaleshwar and do some Panchgani sightseeing to boot.

If you find our information on Mahabaleshwar useful, please let us know in the comments section below. Have a great trip!

India for Introverts: 5 Destinations To Avoid The Crowds And Follow Your Bliss

One of the biggest complaints I hear from foreigners who travel to India is that the crowds and noise can be distressing. This can be even more overwhelming if you’re an introvert, like me. People and noise drain my energy and tire me out very quickly.

But India is not all crowds, noise and beggars. If you hate these, then I recommend you avoid all Indian cities, except as layovers, because you will find these three things in abundance in most cities.

Even though Indians are not known to have a concept of personal space, it’s possible for introverts to find destinations, in this vast country, where they’ll get nothing but peace and quiet. I know, because I found some of these places by actively looking for them.

So, if you love a quiet holiday, whether by the beach or in the mountains or the forests, here are five delightful destinations where you can avoid the crowds and follow your bliss.

  1. Talpona Beach, Goa

I went to Talpona Beach, Goa, in May 2018, because I wanted to take a road trip with my family and my two Labradors. I know Goa pretty well, having lived there for two years when I was completing my Masters at Goa University.

Sunset at Talpona beach

I thought I’d seen almost every beach in Goa worth seeing, until I chanced upon the perfect family accommodation at Talpona beach, in Canacona district at the very south of Goa. We stayed there for a week in a quiet little cottage with our dogs.

There were very few people, mostly locals, on the beach and the few creatures we encountered were stray dogs, cows and crows. With excellent food, Wifi and only my family around, it turned out to be a very restful and relaxing vacation, in spite of the road trip.

Read about my visit to Talpona Beach here.

  1. McLeodganj, Himachal Pradesh

I went to McLeodganj a number of years ago to do a 5-day Introduction to Buddhism course at the Tushita Meditation Center. McLeodganj is a little town near Dharamshala – the Dalai Lama’s summer capital – in Himachal Pradesh.

View of the snow caps from McLeodganj

We spent hardly any time in the town itself and, except for my classmates, there were no crowds to disturb the serenity of our experience. The meditation sessions were an introvert’s dream. To sit in silence and contemplate was just what I needed at that point in my life.

The main meditation hall at Tushita. Image by Jaypee – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

But you don’t have to stay at a meditation centre to find peace and quiet here. You can use AirBnB to book a quiet little cottage or room with stunning mountain views in the hills of McLeodganj.

Read about my visit to McLeodganj here.

  1. Pahalgam, Kashmir

Pahalgam is a sleepy little town in Kashmir with scenic locales and sights that would be perfect in a Bollywood movie (and many have been filmed here, too).

We went to Kashmir on a 10-day trip in 2011 and Pahalgam turned out to be one of my favourite places ever. Walking along the quiet banks of the Lidder River, listening to only the sound of gushing water, was one of my favourite things to do.

The beautiful Lidder River

There were no crowds and the only people we met in the tiny market were locals going about their business. We saw no other tourists on our visit there – none where we were staying, at least.

I envisioned myself staying for a week in a little cottage by the river, enjoying the spectacular view of the pine trees and water gushing by my front door. Oh, Heaven! Accommodation in Pahalgam is also very cheap, so perhaps I’ll do that one day.

My dream cottage on the banks of Lidder River Pahalgam

Read about my visit to Pahalgam here.

  1. Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra

Mahabaleshwar is a pretty popular tourist spot near Pune, so it’s not a place an introvert would think of as peaceful and quiet. No, for that you have to avoid staying in the town and instead book yourself a room at Club Mahindra Sherwood Mahabaleshwar.

Our room at Club Mahindra Sherwood Mahabaleshwar

This quiet luxury resort is located in a forest where you’ll see very few humans around, except when you venture into the dining room for your meals. The only people who’ll disturb you are the people who come to clean your room.

You may see a monkey or two and a few forest creatures, but these are welcome distractions. The resort is pretty far from the town (most of Club Mahindra’s resorts are), so you don’t have to go to any touristy places unless you want to.

Read about my visit to Mahableshwar here.

  1. Pangong Tso, Ladakh

This remote destination is an introvert’s delight. A high-altitude mountain lake with spectacular views and few people to disturb your reverie… What more could one ask for?

On a trip to Ladakh in May 2016, we stayed for a night in a tented camp at Pangong Tso (Lake). I wished I could have stayed longer, never mind that it was freezing cold and the food and amenities were pretty basic.

Pangong Lake Tented Camps

For that matter, almost anywhere you go in Ladakh, you’ll find almost no crowds, and the only thing that will assail your ears is the wind blowing through the rugged snowy peaks.

If sadhus and holy men are the ultimate introverts, it’s no surprise that they choose such remote places for their reflections.

Read about my trip to Ladakh here.

I hope that, with these 5 locations for introverts in India, I’ve done my bit to change your vision of India as a place filled with crowds and noise.

Peace and quiet can be had in many places in India if you know where to look. These 5 travel destinations will help you find it.

Club Mahindra Sherwood Mahabaleshwar: Amidst Forests And Family

In early March 2018, just after my child’s board exam was done, we took a short trip to Club Mahindra’s Sherwood Mahabaleshwar resort for a much-needed break.

For those who have never heard of Mahabaleshwar, it is a hill station at an average elevation of 1,353 metres, located in the Sahyadri mountain range. Situated about 120 km (75 mi) southwest of Pune and 285 km (177 mi) from Mumbai, it is blessed with a pleasant and bracing climate and has one of the few evergreen forests of India.

Because of its proximity to Pune and Mumbai, it is a popular vacation spot for city-dwellers looking to escape the heat and pollution of these two cities. It’s not easy to get a booking here. In fact, I tried to get one (albeit unsuccessfully) for a few days during the long Holi weekend, but instead only managed it during the week after.

This is one of the downsides of owning a timeshare and a major issue I’ve faced with Club Mahindra in recent years – the difficulty of getting a booking in the resort of my choice during the dates I want.

The reception at Club Mahindra Sherwood Mahabaleshwar

We set out from Pune on a Tuesday morning, thanks to the travel desk that helped us book a taxi for the three (or so) hour drive to the resort.

A long, winding road takes you to the gate of the resort, which is situated in a woody, forested area about 4 kilometres from Mahableshwar town. The first thing that hits you is how peaceful and quiet it is here, with only the sounds of chirping birds to disturb your reverie.

Our room at Club Mahindra Sherwood Mahabaleshwar

Exhausted from my sleep deprivation of the previous week, I slept the entire first day, while my child entertained herself in the fun zone. The family-friendly theme of Club Mahindra resorts is why I took on the membership around 10 years ago, and I haven’t regretted it since.

My child has spent many a blissful afternoon in the welcoming arms of the Fun Zone – an essential element of every Club Mahindra resort – whether painting with one of the creative kits or playing games with another kid or participating in the evening’s housie or karaoke session.

This time we also planned to spend a day in nearby Panchgani, a charming town known for its many excellent boarding schools. This was only the second time I’d visited Panchgani, the last time being a stay at a tented Club Mahindra resort that seems to have been eliminated from the roster.

But our visit was not for the purpose of sightseeing (which we avoided altogether), but to a very special landmark called the M.V. Roach bakery, started by my great-grandfather, Manuel Vincent Roach, in 1901, and now run by my second cousin, Christopher Savio Roach, and his mum, Ruth.

The M.V. Roach & Sons Bakery in Panchgani (Established in 1901)

Before our visit, though, we stopped in the main market in Panchgani for some delicious parathas at a tiny (and not very hygienic) place called Akbarali’s. It came highly recommended by a friend who spent a few years in a boarding school in Panchgani.

Akbarali’s Paratha House In Panchgani Market

The parathas were delicious and, if you omit the butter, would make an excellent vegan meal. They were massive and a bit too heavy for us. Not being big eaters, we could hardly finish off two slices each.

Jain Gobhi (Cauliflower) Paratha at Akbarali’s Paratha House, Panchgani

We then dropped in at the Roach bakery, where we spent an enjoyable afternoon with my cousin and aunt. Christopher showed us their massive wood-fired oven that can bake around 450 loaves at a time.

Christopher Savio Roach with the wood-fired oven at the M.V. Roach bakery

My aunt, Ruth, took us on a tour of the Roach (previously called Rochas) family through all the old family albums. I was chuffed to find a photo of my great-grandpa, M.V.Roach, founder of the bakery.

Manuel Vincent Roach, the Founder of the Roach Bakery in Panchgani

Christopher’s grandpa, Francis, and my grandma, Kathleen, were brother and sister, which makes him my second cousin. With our massive family, it would be impossible to keep in touch with everyone, were it not for the twin blessings of Facebook and Whatsapp.

When we returned to the resort a few hours later, we were so exhausted, we slept all day and missed our dinner. I reminded myself that this was supposed to be a relaxing break, with the kind of downtime we couldn’t really get with all the distractions at home.

Thanks to a weak mobile network (only Vodafone and BSNL work consistently in this neck of the woods), I attempted to connect to the net only when I had some work pending. If you’re looking to disconnect completely for a few days, this is a good thing. For me, it was a working holiday, so it became a bit of a nuisance.

The upside was that waking up in the morning to the chirping of birds in the green canopy above us (which continued almost all day), catching sight of a beautiful specimen of the Indian (or Malabar) giant squirrel (Ratufa indica) endemic to this area, and being startled by a large monkey outside our room, made me feel pretty close to nature. If the objective was relaxation, we achieved that pretty well.

Indian (Malabar) giant squirrel exploring the canopy

One problem I have with Club Mahindra’s resorts is that most of them are far away from the nearby town or city, and there are few or no restaurants in the area. Which means you’re stuck having to eat the (very expensive) food in the resort restaurant.

This is not entirely a bad thing as the food, especially the buffet, is excellent and doesn’t leave you wanting. You can opt for a package that includes 1, 2 or 3 meals a day. Members get a 25% discount. This is a cost that you need to factor into your holiday expenses whenever you visit a Club Mahindra resort.

Evening buffet at the Saddle Back Restaurant

Considering that most of their resorts have the equivalent of a 4 or 5-star rating, this is par for the course. Other than the expensive food, we really have no complaints when we visit a Club Mahindra property, and the Mahableshwar resort was no exception.

The rooms are spotlessly clean and well-maintained. The beds are extra-comfortable. The staff are polite, extremely attentive and helpful. They will organise excursions and transport for you at the drop of a hat. And the locations where these resorts are situated are often exceptional.

As someone who hates waste, I was happy to see that they’ve switched to soap and shampoo dispensers instead of those wasteful plastic bottles, but what gives with these plastic stirrers in the rooms? Why not provide reusable stainless steel spoons to stir our coffee, as most of their other resorts do?

Plastic stirrers in the rooms. Why, Club Mahindra?

This was our first time at Club Mahindra Sherwood Mahabaleshwar and we really enjoyed our downtime and the time spent with our family in Panchgani. Watch the video below to enjoy some more glimpses of this charming resort. And if you’ve been here, do share your experience in the comments below.

All images and videos are © Priya Florence Shah