Thursday, January 10, 2013

First vacation of the year - Mahabaleshwar

One of the things that we have decided to do more of this year is take vacations. We do travel quite often, but this year, we want to take at least one planned vacation every month. I've just come back from the first mini vacation of this year, to Mahabaleshwar.
From Mumbai, Mahabaleshwar is approximately 250 kms away, depending on where in Mumbai you live and it takes roughly 5 hours to drive from Mumbai to Mahabaleshwar. Once you enter the ghat section, the scenery truly is breathtaking. At this time of the year, the sky is a gorgeous clear blue and the mountains below are a mix of green and yellow. We stopped enroute to click some pics.
En route to Mahabaleshwar
As we neared Panchgani, we started seeing people selling strawberries. The little girl wanted to buy strawberries from the first person we saw selling them, but I wanted to wait until we had had a chance to go to the market and look around.

We checked into the Citrus resorts, Mahabaleshwar around 11a.m. It is a beautiful property - looks like a heritage bungalow that has been remodelled and turned into a resort. Once you are inside the resort, there is no way that you will remember that it is situated right next to the bustling Mahabaleshwar market. The room was spacious and service, excellent. After freshening up, and spending some time pretending to know how to play chess on the Giant chess board in the resort, we decided to do one of the package tours that the resort offered. For Rs 1000, a taxi took us around to the different view points(and there are several with stunning views) and to Old Mahabaleshwar which has several temples.
The view from Kate's point
 We also stopped for lunch at one of the roadside restaurants where they served "Rice plate" which is nothing but rice, dal, two subzis and rotis for lunch. I ordered a Makai Frankie. We also had a chance to taste the famous strawberry and cream and it truly was good, though I don't know if the price was justified.The restaurant also had its own strawberry garden, and a visit to the garden was part of the tour. Most restaurants and even some houses have their own strawberry patch.
A strawberry garden
 We decided to skip the sunset point which was part of the tour and on returning, spent the rest of the evening lazing around the resort and walking to the market at night.
The next day began with a hearty breakfast buffet at the resort after which we went boating at the Venna Lake. There wasn't much of a crowd when we reached the lake in the morning and so, were able to enjoy the boat ride in relative peace. Again, the gorgeous blue of the sky and the blue of the lake made for a lovely sight.
Boating at the Venna Lake
The sun warmed us against the cold air and the little girl exclaimed that the sun's rays in the water looked as if someone had thrown a whole lot of glitter into the lake or as if the stars had come down to the lake. Isn't it refreshing to look at something through the eyes of a child?
This is the little girl's click

Outside the lake, there were stalls selling the famed Makai pattice(Corn patties) and assorted fresh vegetables like baby carrots and baby radish.
We went to Mapro garden next and I felt that the place was a bit over hyped. There is no garden so to speak. Apparently, Mapro shifted their stawberry garden to some place in Pune and what is left here now is their chocolate factory where the Mazaan range is produced and packed. There are also several of their sales counters where Mapro and Falero products are sold at slightly lower rates than MRP. Their cafetaria was highly recommended by friends, but after the heavy breakfast, we didn't want to go anywhere near food.
Outside the Mapro garden, there were several vendors selling strawberries.
Baby carrots, radish and stawberries outside Mapro garden

The prices are one-third of the prices at which the fruit is sold here in Mumbai. There were two varieties - one which was a gorgeous red, but slighly sour and the other, which was not as read, but deliciously sweet and aptly named Sweet Charlie. There were also stalls selling raspberries(slightly tart, but very very juicy ) and gooseberries generously sprinkled with salt and chilli powder.
All in all, it was a refreshing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city life.


Archana Vivek said...

Wow. Looks like all of you had great fun. Place looks awesome.

Renu said...

I loved the strawberry and cream when I went to mahabaleshwar..

Sofia Wotson said...

Wow..! Beautiful! Feel like being there at once..!