Last month, Ghumau Kya planned a trip to the magnificent hill station of Mahabaleshwar. We designed a perfect itinerary spanning three days and were very excited to visit this famed ‘Land of Strawberries’. There was a huge conflict going on in our minds as to where we wanted to go and what all places we wanted to cover while we were there.  If you’re a traveller, you can imagine how difficult it is to settle on a handful of locations when there’s so much more to explore in a place like Mahabaleshwar.

When we finally set off a few days later, with our bags stuffed with winter wear and big smiles on our faces, our minds were blissfully clear of all concerns and the only thing we could think about was how much fun we were going to have on our trip.

It wasn’t that none of us had ever been to Mahabaleshwar, but our excitement stemmed from the anticipation of everything unexpected lying in wait for us on this journey. Ghumau Kya’s primary goals are to travel to new and old places, explore the unexplored, and to educate and inspire others to do the same. But we also have a vision to capture all these memories in a camera, so that everyone watching us can join us on our travels. It is an immense responsibility on our shoulders—which we bear with pride—to ensure that we deliver the best to our viewers.

So, with that in mind, let’s begin our story. It’s not exactly a Shakespearean retelling of a dramatic tale but I hope it’s interesting enough to keep you reading.

ROCKFORD RESORT AGROTOURISM CENTRE

We started our tour with Rockford Resort, a resort located on Tapola Road, 9 km from the Mahabaleshwar main market. Now, you may wonder why we’re counting our place of accommodation as part of our tour. Well, let me make it clear that Rockford is no ordinary resort. It is situated at a stunning altitude of 4000 ft above sea level and offers gorgeous views of the mountains and valley below. It is most definitely a tourist attraction in itself.

KATE’S POINT

After a filling breakfast at the resort, we drove to Kate’s Point, one of the greatest viewpoints in Mahabaleshwar. It is named after former British governor Sir John Malcolm’s daughter who had taken a liking to this spot. This amazing cliff overlooks the expanses of the Deccan plateau, with the River Krishna meandering through its midst.

Elephant Head Point and Echo Point are also a part of Kate’s Point. The former is where you can see the clear natural structure of an elephant’s head jutting out of a rocky cliff. And as the name suggests, Echo Point returns back one’s voice when shouted loudly out into the valley.

We strolled about in leisure, admiring the views and indulging in a round of flavoured ice and ‘gol gappa’. A family of monkeys had a good time frolicking around nearby, providing tourists with some accidental entertainment. We were warned they’d try to snatch our camera and belongings but I guess we were lucky because the monkeys were very well-behaved that day.

MAHABALESHWAR MARKET

Mahabaleshwar Market is a treasure trove of diverse items. From wooden handicrafts to leather purses, from flavoured syrup bottles to chikki and fudge, this market has a lot to offer. If you’re a shopaholic or love collecting souvenirs on your travels, this is the place to go.

To be perfectly honest, only one of us was at all interested in shopping. The rest of us were drooling at the sight of fresh strawberries, waiting desperately for lunch when we’d finally get our hands on a tall glass of the famed ‘Strawberry Cream’ of Mahabaleshwar. Let me tell you, the hype is real and the worth of Strawberry Cream is not overrated. This perfect mix of ice cream, whipped cream, fresh fruit, and syrup tastes as great as it sounds, if not better. If you ever visit Mahabaleshwar and miss out on a glass of Strawberry Cream, I’d think you were crazy for sure.

VENNA LAKE

From the market, we proceeded to Venna Lake, a beautiful, artificially constructed lake that was created for the sole purpose of providing a water source to the areas nearby. Years later, it has gained popularity as one of Mahabaleshwar’s most visited tourist destinations. The place was teeming with tourists when we got there but we still managed to have a good time. Our 30-minute boat ride was fun and we also managed to make amusing one-sided conversations with a herd of friendly horses before we left.

There are a host of food stalls along the road outside Venna Lake, where they serve items like noodles, pakodas, chaat, and fresh fruits, among other things. If you are a foodie, you can surely indulge in a few of these delicious snacks while you’re there. The place is very family-friendly and should not be missed on your trip to Mahabaleshwar.

KRISHNA DEVI MANDIR

Our urge to visit unconventional places takes us to some really off-beat locations. The Krishna Devi Mandir is one such place. Earlier when we were searching for places to visit in Mahabaleshwar, we were hit in the face with the continual recurring mentions of certain most common tourist attractions, and while we were already planning to cover a significant handful of those, our hearts called out to underrated, uncharted territories where footsteps seldom tread.

So, when we discovered the existence of a possibly 5000-year-old temple, we jumped at the chance to visit it. Located just a few metres away from Panchganga Temple in Old Mahabaleshwar, the Krishna Devi Temple enjoys a tranquillity that will surprise you. The short walk to the temple takes you through a narrow scenic route which eventually opens to the back view of the mandir. If you look at the photos here, you’ll realize what a hidden gem this place is. We were truly mesmerized by the beauty and calm this simple looking mandir exuded.

On a good day, you can even see Elephant’s Head Point from here, far in the distance across the valley.

By the time we got back to the resort, our feet ached and our stomachs were growling. Dinner consisted of Gobi Paratha with Curd, Bhindi ki Sabji with Roti, and a steaming bowl of Hakka Noodles. We’d ordered a mixture of our favourite recipes from room service and sat there recounting the highlights of our day as we ate.

Our first day in Mahabaleshwar had turned out to be wonderful and we hoped the second would be even better.

 

Read Part 2 of this series here

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