Mahableshwar- A Cheap Trip
A famous saying goes like “Travelling- it makes you speechless and then turns you to a storyteller”. So let this newborn storyteller share her first traveling story with you. It was the month of November. The weekend was approaching; I was at my office staring at the laptop screen, thinking about what to do in the weekend because “all work and no travel makes Jack a dull boy”. Visiting Mahableshhwar was in my mind since I came to Pune. Rather than going by a four-wheeler, I find it adventurous if its a train journey, so I opted for the same. Thanks to Oyo Rooms, I booked a single bedroom for Rs.500 there as it was offseason. At last moment, my friend urged me to include her and I said okay, let’s do it!
Here We Come Mahableshwar!
Maharashtra Express, which arrives at 4.00 am at Pune station, runs till Wathar and the rest of the journey from Wathar to Mahableshwar can be done by a bus. So, we took two tickets and arrived at the platform. As expected, the general coach was heavily loaded, so we went to the sleeper class because most of the crowd gets down in Pune. We sat comfortably and the journey to Wathar began. As the sun rose, we got to see the beautiful views throughout our 4-hour journey.
At around 8.00 am we reached Wathar station, which was very quiet and clean. The bus stop is just out of the station, no need to go anywhere. We started at 9.00am and it took around 3-4 hours to finally reach our destination! Thankfully, the bus dropped us very near to our hotel. It was 1.00 pm still the weather there was so good that we hardly felt any tiredness.
Panchgani Local Market
Our hotel was midway between Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani (i.e. both were at an equal distance). But it was situated at quite a remote area; not a big 5-star hotel but it felt much homely. We checked in and then took some rest. Mostly the visitors come with their vehicles in Mahablehwar, but if someone wishes for hiring a cab, it becomes expensive in Mahableshwar. Hence, the next plan was to hire a two-wheeler, which was a difficult task (but definitely not impossible).
We started with our hotel owner but he did not seem to be convinced enough to give his two-wheeler for one day. We were a little disappointed but did not lose hope as we had the whole local Panchgani market to explore. At around 6.00 pm we came out of the hotel and asked for a lift. The person who gave us a lift was with his family and was going Panchgani thankfully. You will find plenty of strawberries throughout your journey because Mahableshwar is famous for ‘strawberry gardens’.
We reached the market in 15 minutes and started exploring. We went to many local shops, asked people about hiring a two-wheeler but it was no success. Then, I don’t know what came to my friend’s mind, she took me to a paan shop and started convincing him about two-wheeler. I almost lost the hope of getting any vehicle but she did not give up and her efforts paid. Yes, that Paan wala bhaiya was convinced to give his moped for one whole day in Rs.500! We agreed to the terms of bhaiya (like no damage to the moped, petrol had to be filled by us, of course), took his phone number and it was decided that he would hand over the vehicle the next morning by 7.00 am. It was time to celebrate and we were relaxed now,hence, went inside an ice cream parlor to celebrate.
The Best Ghar Ka Khana Ever!!
‘Kisi chiz ko agar dil se chaho to wo tumhe zarur milti hai.’(if you have a strong desire to achieve something, you will definitely get it). We were hungry and all we longed for, was homemade simple dinner. Though this is the era of technology, sometimes Google also can’t help. We decided to ask local people and it was really sweet of them, that they guided us to the hotel where the delicious homemade food was made. It was a small bhojnalaya and an old couple runs it. Its name is ‘Samrat Bhojnalaya’. We sat there and ordered a Veg thali. Do visit this bhojnalaya if you ever visit Panchgani, you would never regret it. Plus it’s cheap too! My favorite part was dahi (curd). It was so creamy and so delicious, just like how my mother prepares at home! We were very impressed by the food and thanked uncle a lot.He told us that many people who visit Mahableshwar often are their customers and eat the food there only and yes it’s healthy plus yummy.
Time to go to Bed
Our journey to Mahablehwar was full of small adventures and thanks to that adventure that today I have become a storyteller. It was around 8.45 pm and now we had to go back to the hotel. We walked up to the auto stand where we saw two police standing and asked whether there was any bus at that moment that would drop us to the hotel. They were really humble and guided us to the bus stop where we found that the last bus would be coming by 9.40 pm. That was a bit late for us, but thanks to the police officers, they stood around us and made us feel safe. Meanwhile, we kept asking some autowalas if they could drop us and there was one special guy who said he would take us in Rs.400! He thought we were new and would agree easily. But we moved away from him and decided to wait for the bus.
You can beat any hurdle if you have a nice company. We sat in the bus stand, laughed, made fun of each other and the time just flew away. The bus arrived, we sat in it and reached the hotel safely in Rs.30 only. It was a fun day indeed.
Vroom vroom vroom...
The next morning we woke up with beautiful weather and fully charged up to roam around in a moped. We started by visiting Mapro garden which is in Panchgani. Its a good place, especially for children. Also, if you love strawberry, this is the best place for you because you get a strawberry shake, strawberry ice cream, and all strawberry kinds of stuff. Adjacent to the garden was a strawberry farm; a farmer was working there. We went down to him and requested if we could get the chance to pluck one strawberry and taste it; he agreed and so this was my first experience to eat something raw and fresh directly from the farm!
By 10.30am we were hungry and went to a hotel and had dosa. There we took out a map (you can easily get the map of Mahableshwar’s various points anywhere) and planned which point to visit first.
Venna Lake – On our way, the first spot we stopped by, was Venna lake. There was pretty much hustle-bustle and people were mostly enjoying boating. There were stalls of Maggie, tea, corn bhel, etc. I like observing people and absorbing the good vibes of the place; so we stayed there for a while. As we were in no mood to do boating, we started for our next destination.
Lingmala Waterfalls – As we headed to our next target, Lingmala waterfalls, we saw a beautiful road with so much greenery. It seemed that nature is laying a carpet for us with her open arms. I couldn’t restrain myself to stop the vehicle and walk in that carpet. This was the reason for renting a two-wheeler and let the air softly touch my hair. I had a wish to click a photo sitting in the middle of the road and trees on both sides of the road! And my wish was fulfilled here. If the roads were so beautiful, we became more curious to reach the waterfalls; hence we proceeded. After taking tickets (Rs.25 per person), we started walking through the big stairs, catching hold of breath.
It was a very quiet and calm place. As it was winter season, the waterfall was quite small in width, but the place offered lush greenery and deep valley, which gave inner peace. We relaxed there for a bit as we had to climb the stairs (going down is easy than climbing up..) and then left.No doubt, the waterfall would be more beautiful in the rainy season!
Mahablehwar Temple – Then it was time to visit Mahableshwar temple. The weather by now had become more cloudy and greenery all over the road did not let our energy down. The temple is beautifully built with stone walls and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The smell of camphor, agarbattis (incense sticks) all around, made the surrounding much divine. I really liked this place very much. After exploring for a while, we prepared to leave; as we came outside, we saw dark clouds and it started raining! This was literally a bonus for us from God, because it hardly rains during winter season right! A cup of hot tea was all needed to add the cherry on the cake; hence, we went to a tapri (tea shop) and had some tea. We literally enjoyed the rain and after it stopped, we resumed our journey to the next points.
Elphinstone point – Nature has so many beautiful views to show us; I realized it when I saw the massive valleys which looks scary yet so beautiful. We were mesmerized by its massiveness. First time when we looked down, we felt like we are going to fall! Among all, I found this point a little bit scary .I could not believe my eyes,it just seemed like a 360 degree view. It got the name as the rocks in the valley symbolize elephant’s face.
Last Destination in Mahableshwar
It was around 6.15 pm and we started feeling cold; thank God we had brought our jackets. This is the beauty of a hill station, it shows us all the aspects of nature as well as weather; we got rain, free with cold weather! So, decided to go to Sunset point or Bombay point, however, we did not get to see the sunset. Its a good place and you can go for a horse riding if you wish to.
By now, were little exhausted and hungry, hence went back to Panchgani to return the vehicle and thank him. Luckily, we got one auto who dropped us in our hotel.
Time to Return
We planned that we would take a direct bus from Mahableshwar to Pune. So, around 8 am we waited outside the hotel for someone to drop us till the Panchgani bus stop. A car stopped by, and I could see a couple sitting in it. So I enquired him where was he heading. By God’s grace, he was traveling till Pune and he offered us to join him at an affordable rate; hence we hopped in.
You get to know yourself better when you go out of your comfort zone. And most importantly “You don’t have to be rich to travel well!” A trip can be both economical and adventurous at the same time if you know how and where to save money.