How do you reach Mahabaleshwar from Mumbai
Well there are two ways to reach Mahabaleshwar from Mumbai
Route 1: Bombay-Panvel -Lonavla-Pune-Shirwal-Khambatki Ghat -Wai-Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar (Total distance around 305 kms, driving time with break 7 hours)
Route 2: Bombay-Kalamboli-Panvel-Pen-Mahad-Pholadpur-Mahabaleshwar (Total distance around 237 kms)
The first one is preferable. That way you cover a major part of the route going along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and the remaining through reasonably good Pune-Satara bypass. That way you are likely to reach Mahabaleshwar safer and in better shape.
Route 1 steps:
1. If starting from either the western suburbs or south Mumbai, drive down to Sion. Reach Kings Circle and take the slight right towards Mumbai Pune Expressway. The road till you reach the expressway has a lot of traffic so its advisable that you start early in the morning and beat the peak hour rush. Just remember to take all the flyovers (go up rather than under) that come your way till you hit the highway. Shortly you’ll arrive at the first toll gate.
2. Once you are on the Mumbai-Pune highway, drive down straight to Pune. If you need to refuel, there is a HP petrol pump cum restaurant halfway down the road and before the Khandala ghats. On a normal day, steps 1 and 2 should take around 3 hours.
3. The highway will take you straight to Hindajawadi in Pune which is on the outskirts of Pune. You will reach the Hinjawadi junction signal. You need to continue going straight which is essentially the Satara Bypass. Though you may not see any road sign posts for Mahabaleshwar, remember that you need to be moving towards Satara the district in which Mahabaleshwar is located. Essentially once you cross Hinjawadi in Pune, keep going straight.
4. After you drive for 45 mins, keep an eye out for an overbridge towards your right. It may have a small board that shows a sign towards right to Wai. You need to go under the overbridge and towards your right to Wai. From there on its a smooth, curvy road to first Panchgani and then to Mahabaleshwar.
What places to see in Mahabaleshwar
Well there are quite many actually. Right next to Panchgani is a lake where you can do boating. We did not see any power boats and were too tired to peddle and thus let it go. Worth visiting are Lodwick point in Mahabaleshwar, the Pratapgarh Fort (although the drive was good, lack of parking space and absolutely no indication regarding the historical origins of the fort disappointed us) and Tapola. Other are Babbington point, Kate’s Point, Wilson Point, Bombay Point, Connaught Peak, Helen’s Point and the water Falls. If you don’t have a vehicle of your own, rent one from the local agencies. Most of the points are far off and difficult to cover on foot. The drive to all these points is the best part about Mahabaleshwar. Gentle curves with breathtaking views.
Strawberry in Mahabaleshwar
You will find Strawberries everywhere in Mahabaleshwar – be it ice cream parlors (strawberry-cream is a delicacy sold in practically every other shop), Confectionery stores, restaurants and road side vendors. BUT…….the best way to eat strawberries is do what we discovered accidentally – eat them by plucking them right off the plant. We were on our way to Tapola and happen to pass a field (approx 12 kms from city) in which appeared to be growing some bright red fruits. We stopped and asked the lady in the hut right next to the field whether those were strawberries and would she be willing to sell a few to us. She was more than happy and guess what, we jumped straight onto the field and started plucking the freshest and the juiciest ones that you’d ever find. So well….if you have to buy strawberries, buy them right off the field rather than from the city. (It’s another story that we came back to Mahabaleshwar after our drive and bought another 3 kgs, all of which got squished by the time we came back to Mumbai. The fruit does not last more than 24 hours without refrigeration so don’t buy in bulk if you can’t store them properly. Buy syrup instead. The peak season for strawberry production is January.)
Weather in Mahabaleshwar?
Considering that we went in April and even then it was quite pleasant and actually slightly cold towards the evening, one would guess that the temperatures during the winters would be quite low. I was told by the lady from whom we bought the strawberries that a part of her crop was destroyed during a hailstorm a few months back.
Well just before I end, while coming back from Mahabaelshwar and just after Panchgani, there’s a small palteu where you’d find a lot of people doing para sailing. For 1500 bucks, you can get yourself all buckled up and enjoy breathtaking views of the valley.