Mahabaleshwar

Originally, Mahabaleshwar was created as a summer capital so that British sahibs and memsahibs, stationed in the Bombay Presidency, could escape the heat of the Indian summer. Now, except for the monsoons when some hotels down their shutters, Mahabaleshwar is a round-the-year holiday destination. In fact, it is something that you are expected to do over a weekend.

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At the beginning of January this year, we took a short break and drove off to Mahabaleshwar. We decided that we were not going to drive around from one ‘point’, as the various peaks are called, to another. Instead we were going to relax and get charged to face the coming year.

Mahabaleshwar town itself is a quaint, charming but overcrowded. Some of the establishments are really old and trace their origin to the 19th century. Mahabaleshwae 223

Like, Elsie’s Dairy & Bakery, which has been around since 1849 and is currently run by the fourth or fifth generation of the original owners. The cakes and patties that we sampled were delectable and the owners warm and friendly.

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Another 19th century landmark is the Holy Cross Church, which was set up in 1831. It is located at the edge of the town and is very well maintained. For a small town church, it is buzzing with activity throughout the day.

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Mapro Foods appears to dominate the local economy, with every block of the small town having a Mapro Sales counter. I guess it some franchisee operation but the presence of Mapro is ubiquitous. In fact, even before you enter Mahabaleshwar, on the way up from Pune, you come across the Mapro Gardens, where you get some scrumptious serving of strawberries with cream and strawberry ice cream.
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Besides the town itself, what makes Mahabaleshwar so very attractive as a holiday destination is its natural beauty. The various points that Mahabaleshwar is so famous for a consequence of the rugged mountain ranges that abound in the area. Shivaji the great Maratha warrior operated in this district and the ruins of one of his forts, Pratapgadh is visited by tourists.

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We did not make it to Pratapgadh on this visit but we could got a glimpse of the fort when we visited Arthur’s Seat, which is located in a forest reserve near old Mahabaleshwar. When you view the rugged terrain from Arthur’s Seat, what comes to your mind is pictures of the Grand Canyon.  Perhaps,  if some Hollywood producer had come across this place we would have watched Satara Westerns instead of Spaghetti Westerns.

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Accordingly to authoritative sources, this vantage point is named after a Britisher, Arthur Mallet who fist built a house in the area. However, if you believe the local guides who abound in all tourist destinations, the place got its name because King Arthur used to hunt in this area. You decide which source sounds more romantic, but visit you must!

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On the way up to Arthur’s Seat, there are a number of secondary points. Like, Monkey Point that derives its name from the rock formations that resemble monkeys and Tiger’s spring, which is supposed to be the source of the Savitri river. The popular belief is that the waters of the spring have divine powers. There is an old woman who dispenses water from the spring to the tourists. And she does it as a service. You pay out of your generosity and she does not accept charity. You have to drink the water or she will not accept any money.

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Another high point when visiting Arthur’s seat is the gastronomical in nature. Once you descend from the mountains, you go up another mountain to the Ramkush Resort where you attack a large ‘thali‘ of food, with unlimited servings. And whilst waiting to be served, take in some spectacular views of the surrounding valley.

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We were very lucky to go to Mahabaleshwar during the strawberry season. And we got to visit two strawberry farms. And a chance to buy freshly picked strawberries. At half the price we would have paid in Mumbai.

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Whilst on gastronomical matters, the corn patties and corn frankies for which Mahabaleshwar is famous along with the strawberries. The entrepreneur in our picture has been in this business for years as was his father before him.

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And at the end of the day, after you have trekked around to some point or the other, eaten the local farm produce like corn or freshly picked carrots and radish or borras, or amla, then had a good lunch, a nap and tea, there is one thing left to do. And that is to watch the sun setting. We watched the sun setting behind Saddleback mountain. At least that is the name that we were given by the guest relationship lady at the resort we stayed in.

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We plan to go again to Mahabaleshwar later this year or early next year and  see some of the things we missed on this visit.  But mostly, like the sahibs and memsahibs of yore, we plan to relax and recharge.

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Today we’re on M of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.

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Comments

  1. That was a detailed description/pictorial. My travel list keeps adding up. Thanks Jose, for your presence here – Between the trio, you folks run such a cozy blog:-)

  2. I have been to this place so many times… infact just last year too in strawberry season ! 😀
    We stay regularly at Dreamland… a hotel that started in a year when my uncle went for honeymoon there… and since over 50 years now our family is a regular there ! 😀

    This post the pics are all so so fresh in my mind 😀
    I recommend you stay at DreamLand once… though they only serve Veg… and dont have a bar… but you can order drinks in your room ! Its a place where they will stuff you with food I tell u ! 😀

  3. Mahabaleshwar has been on my Bucket list fro many years ! I really haven’t had a chance to visit the western ghats ever ! And I have heard so much about the strawberries in Mahabaleshwar !

  4. Such yummy food was all that I was thinking, especially the strawberry icecream! But, that last sunset photo is a stunner!

    • Sunset in Mahabaleshwar is a certainly a stunner. Sunrise too, I guess. From a place called Wilson Point, which is a vast plateau. Beautiful view from this point. Supposed to be the highest point in Mahabaleshwar.

  5. You took me on a journey back to my holidays in Mahableshwar – an annual must do for my family. Love the place. Haven’t been there for years – maybe next time I visit Mumbai. We always seemed to bring back a lot of honey!

  6. Believe you me, I have never known Mahableshwar this way. It was always about a hill station in the proximity of Bombay. Now you make me want to revisit, just to rediscover it. Fab post, Jose.

  7. I had visited Mahabaleshwar 25 years ago on my honeymoon. I had fallen in love with this beautiful place then. Thank you for this post, this month is our 25th wedding anniversary and this post couldn’t have come at a better time.

    • Mahabaleshwar has changed over the years. More tourists, more hotels and more vehicles on the road. But it still retains its charm. Looking forward to another trip, soon.

  8. I think I must add this to my travel destination.. thanks for the detailed write up.

    Bhavya
    Just Another Blog

  9. The AtoZ of Mahabaleshwar 🙂

  10. My God ! What a post Corinne . You totally tempted me.
    I would go to Mahabaleswar to have the corn pattice and to visit that bakery and also have strawberries.

    I so loved the pics !!
    Lucky as U have the place near by
    ENJOY! and that thali yummmmmmm
    not fair as am on a diet

  11. and all pics r amazing .
    I TOTALLY Want to go to Mapro !!!

  12. and I thought those were real monkeys :D…. Sorry for giving comments in installments 😛
    Good day

  13. Have been to Mahabaleshwar twice for official meets but never knew so much about it till I read this post! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Jose, that was a superb primer on Mahabaleshwar, complete with stories and detailed descriptions. I’m glad you decided not to go the point-by-point route.

  15. Akhil Kalsh says:

    I went to Mahabaleshwar this Jan and stayed at Saj Resort, the food there is nothing short of orgasmic! We didn’t go to any “point”, ANY! Just stayed back, enjoyed the weather and at sumptuous amounts of food. It is a lovely place to be at.

    Akhil Kalsh.

  16. Such beautiful pictures you shared. I was thinking of the Grand Canyon when looking at them. Such yummy looking food, and the strawberries look just so delicious and sweet. What an adventure!

  17. Wow what gorgeous photos! And I bet they don’t do the place justice…

  18. It sure looks beautiful and tempting with so many nice places to visit. The pictures are awesome and the Thali food looks yummy 😀 Great post Jose !

  19. Nice Post José Rodrigues, would you please make a blog post for Panchgani hill station also??

    Thanks.

  20. Some awesome photographs. The Monkey Point is indeed aptly named! 🙂
    I have been to Mahabaleshwar almost four decades back. Phew, a long time indeed.

    • thanks for the compliment regarding the photograph. We still need to improve, though. Yes, Monkey Point is aptly named. Four decades ago, Mahabaleshwar must have been even more beautiful.

  21. Such a delightful visual treat! The only thing I couldn’t do was have the pattice, thali and strawberry n cream!
    Thank you for a wonderful travel story!

  22. We ate like hogs in Mapro garden….bought chocolates and tasted everything they had to offer. It was one beautiful trip….thanks for bringing back the memories.

  23. I have lived in Mumbai for more than two decades but I am yet to visit Mahabaleshwar .Unbelievable but true. Your pics and descriptions are fabulous Jose,and it sure sounds like a dream weekend getaway 🙂

    • Lovely place. I’ve never been there in the summer, but since it is a hill station, I guess it should be ok weather wise. But it might be over crowded. As for us, we will stick to winter. Or maybe pre and post monsoon.

  24. Wow! I didn’t do half the things mentioned here, the last time I was there. Icecream looks yummy. Will time my trip too in the strawberry season

    • I think that the strawberry season, i.e. January and February, is the best time to visit. Not as many tourists, as compared to the season. You might even get some good hotel deals.

  25. When will i get the opportunity to travel like you guys! Sigh! you make feel me so J. 🙁

    but till then thank you for taking me to these amazing virtual tours. 🙂

  26. What a beautiful recount. Lived in Bombay for 5 yrs but never made it to Mahabaleshwar 🙁 Not one to give up though, it is still on my to do list. This sweet post is a lovely reference guide. Thank you.

    Four Leaf Clover

  27. What a lovely place for a trip!

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

Trackbacks

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  3. […] a reminder! 😉  We’re just back from a week long break in a slightly cooler part of India – Mahabaleshwar and it wasn’t fun coming back to a much warmer and more humid […]

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