5 things to do in Mahabaleshwar as a traveller and #NotATourist
Mahabaleshwar is a bustling hill station in the Western Ghats of India. Situated a five-hour and a three-hour drive from Mumbai and Pune respectively, it is one of the more popular getaways from the concrete unpleasantness of urban life. Mahabaleshwar has hills, sunset points, waterfalls, forest trails, fresh produce, and strawberries. Lots and lots of strawberries. Needless to say, it also has a lot of tourists. But don’t let that deter you from making a trip to this lush stretch of hills and valleys, and enjoy all the goodness it can offer.
Remember, the trick in visiting a place as touristy as Mahabaleshwar is to go with the spirit of a traveller, not a tourist – willing to see different things, and things differently. Here are 5 unique things you can do in Mahabaleshwar there to make your experience richer, and more memorable.
Take a walk around Old Mahabaleshwar
Old Mahabaleshwar, locally known as Kshetra, lies to the north of the city and has fewer tourists and more locals. Taking a walk around the old part of the city often has the charm of a bygone era and also lets you experience the raw authenticity of the place instead of just its commercial vibe. Stop by one or two temples if you please, observe the juxtaposition of local people’s life and tourists’ life, and try to speak to a few locals to get to know Mahabaleshwar through their stories and memories.
Rent a place to stay in the woods in Mahabaleshwar
Well, not exactly in the thick of woods, but if you spend a little time and effort you would easily find a place to stay on the outskirts of Mahabaleshwar, away from the chaos of the main town. If you’re extremely lucky, you may even find one inside a strawberry farm. Go the extra mile (pun intended) to book a place on the peripheries of the city. The peace, quiet, and waking up to lush hillsides will do you good.
Buy fresh produce at a green grocer and request a local to cook for you
It’s a delicious truth that food tastes better when made with fresh vegetables. Staying in cities we’ve quite forgotten the taste of a meal cooked using vegetables which have come straight from the farm. Light orange baby carrots washed clean, red turnips along with their leaves and roots, juicy red tomatoes the size of cherries, small green cucumbers often already peeled, and other greens, are what you must buy from a local green grocer in Mahabaleshwar. You could eat some of those raw, but we urge you to request the kitchen staff of the place you’ve rented, to cook you an authentic Maharashtrian meal from the fresh produce you just bought. Chances are, they’ll happily oblige.
Pick strawberries at a strawberry farm:
Mahabaleshwar has a number of strawberry farms – Garden Green House, Hirkani Garden, Shilpa Farm, Deepak Baug etc – where you can and must go to indulge in a few hours of strawberry picking. Squat-walk your way through rows of varied strawberries, pluck them fresh, and taste the fruit of your hard work (yes, pun intended again). At the end of two or so unhurried hours of leisure, pack a ridiculous number of boxes of strawberries for everyone back home. Spending time like this is the kind of unadulterated recreation that’s hard to come by in a city. Treat yourself to it. You can thank us later.
Picnic at Venna Lake:
Pack a picnic basket, go boating, take in the serene surroundings, and try the eateries at the bank of Venna lake, one of the most famous tourist spots in Mahabaleshwar. A large number of people flock to it every day and make up the cheerful energy of the place. Do a family picnic there, or spend time having fun with friends because either ways it’s bound to be memorable. Be sure to include Venna lake in your itinerary.