Mahabaleshwar, the land of luscious strawberries is a popular hill retreat in Maharashtra. Nestled among Sahyadri mountain ranges, the lush greenery, gushing waterfalls and clear skies is what lure travellers to Mahabaleshwar throughout the year. The hill town brings forth a unique colonial ambience along with the sprawling strawberry and mulberry orchards. Head here for a fresh tranquil air, salubrious weather, magnificent sceneries and silent meandering paths.
Getting There: Mahabaleshwar is a popular destination amongst people from Mumbai and Pune, and the most economical way to get here is by a private car or a bus. From Mumbai, you can take the bus from Dadar East, Sion or Vashi; whereas from Pune, you can board the bus from Wakad, Hinje Wadi Bridge or Chandani Chowk. The nearest railway station to Mahabaleshwar is located at Wathar (60 km). Pune Railway Station is also a convenient way to travel to Mahabaleshwar. The hill station does not have an airport of its own. The nearest airport is in Pune, which is at a distance of 120 km. From the airport, you can take a taxi or a bus to Mahabaleshwar.
Where To Stay: If you are travelling to Mahabaleshwar and want to take in the best of everything, including a peek into the local's life, culture and religion, you must consider staying at a homestay. These are the most convenient and affordable alternate accommodation options in the town. From simple village homes to restored ancestral properties to writers' retreats and lodges, the homestays in Mahabaleshwar will give you an authentic experience of the city. There are some Mahabaleshwar homestays which are cocooned amid lush greenery, thus allowing you to witness the nature at its best. The properties are tastefully decorated and well-managed to offer you a comfortable and home-like environment. If you have secretly dreamt of living in a private villa by the woods, there is a chance you might get to live that dream by staying at Casa De Vaz in Mahabaleshwar. This quaint bungalow is located near the highway and is in close proximity to all the major attractions in town. Equipped with all the modern facilities, this Mahabaleshwar homestay can accommodate 13 guests at a time, offering complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi services. Another beautiful homestay, offering the splendid views of mountains and valleys is Golden Hills Resort. The villa is located in Metgutad and is a gorgeous place to stay with your family and friends. Free Wi-Fi, a pool, a playground, a sun terrace and parking space are some of the amenities offered within the premises. Few more cosy and charming homestays located in Mahabaleshwar are Rutubandh Bungalow, Shanti Kunj, The Homestay People, Pandit Farmhouse and Nandanvan Society. All these Mahabaleshwar homestays are heritage properties that are expensively styled, thus suiting the taste of every individual. The rooms are spacious and offer the much-needed comfort. Om Niwas Cottage and Anjali Niwas Cottage are two more homestays in Mahabaleshwar that are budget-friendly. With minimalistic interiors and state-of-the-art amenities, these homestays are ideal for a bunch of friends who are looking for an affordable stay. So escape the chaos of the city, stay with the locals at Mahabaleshwar homestays and enjoy the comfort of a home.
What To See: From lakes to waterfalls and forts to historic sites, Mahabaleshwar is blessed with numerous enchanting places that are ideal for avid travellers and nature lovers. One of the most popular tourist places here is Venna Lake. It is a manmade lake that stretches across 7 to 8 kilometers, and one can indulge in various fun filled activities, including horse riding, boating and fun fair games. One can also munch strawberries and corns while taking a stroll around the lake. To give the tourists a piece of heaven, there's Mapro Garden – a strawberry field close to Mahabaleshwar. Selling all sorts of jams, toppings, preserves, marmalade, syrups, squashes, fruit salads, strawberry shakes and fresh strawberries, this garden is truly a love-at-first-sight for tourists. Some more popular attractions here are quiet and majestic Loto Point, Elephant's Head Point, Tapola for extraordinary sightseeing and Parsi Point for picnic. If someone's a nature lover, there's Babington Point, Lodwick Point, Connaught Peak and Table Land to enjoy the majestic landscapes of Mahabaleshwar. Saving the best for the last, there's Pratapgad Fort which tells the forgotten stories of wars and courts. The Fort is popular among trekkers as being one of the finest trekking destinations in Maharashtra.
What To Eat: Mahabaleshwar's popular eateries can be found out in the quiet by-lanes and less-traversed paths. Serving a variety of cuisines, ranging from traditional Maharashtrian to Mughlai and Gujarati, Mahabaleshwar has something for every kind of foodie. Some of the natural treasures of the cuisines are carrots, corn, strawberries, mulberries and cherry size tomatoes. Delicious indulges that you can savour in the town are Bhakari (Maharashtrian Bread), Thalipeeth (multi-grain pancake), Daal Batti Churma, Gatte ki Kadi and Corn Pattice, to name a few.
Where To Shop: Shop for souvenirs at Town Bazaar, Mapro Candies and Chocolates at Mapro Garden, and Imperial Store for everything from wine to medicines and entertaining videos.
Insider's Tip: Try out the Strawberry with Cream at the Cream Corner Restaurant. This place has been there from mid-70s and is known to introduce the concept of Strawberry with Cream.