Taking time out for a vacation is sometimes easier said then done. When the situation is such, the best thing to do is choose a getaway that is within easy driving distance. If you are in and around Maharashtra , make sure Mahabaleshwar figures on your list !
Although it sounds like a cliched destination, you have to trust us when we say the experience here is quite exquisite. It is still pristine and fairly untouched by the usual swarms of people you’d expect at a popular spot. It is a great escape from the humdrum of the big cities we live in.
What exceeded our expectation and the entire vacation experience as a whole, was the amazing resort Le Meridien and our super efficient cab driver who knew Mahabaleshwar like the back of his palm.
We took a good two relaxed days viewing the different faces of the mountain, taking long walks and climbing small reefs. Since we made an early morning start on day 1, we watched the sun rising spreading its rays across the jagged peaks. The foggy skies formed a beautiful silhouette on the horizon.
Our first stop was at the beautiful Mapro garden.It is the garden restaurant of the Mapro company located in Panchgani. We were greeted by the smell of squashes, crushes, chocolates and jams. An early morning breakfast visit,we found the ambience to be calm and misty, just perfect to huddle around the woodfire oven. We sat at a great spot overlooking the fire place on one side and the Strawberry fields on the other .
We then made our way to the beautiful viewing arenas called Kates Point and Arthurs Seat. There are plenty of such sight seeing vistas near these 2 landmarks, one better than the other. The atmosphere adds to beauty by layering obscurity on the picturesque Sahyadri Hills. The right side of Kate’s point overlooks a picture-postcard-esque valley nestled amongst the hills. The left overlooks the Dhom Dam.Nearby you will find Echo Point and Elephant Head/Needle Hole Point, 2 other viewpoints. Echo point as the name indicates is a place where people can hear their voices echo against the hills, if they are loud enough. You’ll know when you are there, the sound of people diligently trying to test this out serenades through the air.
There’s also the pristine Venna Lake, with the appeal of a romantic boat ride amid the hilly vistas. It’s wonderful to take a joyride as the nippy air sings lullabies on a sunny afternoon.
If you’re a connoisseur of ornamental art, head straight to the Devrai Art Village in Panchgani where you can appreciate the work of highly skilled adivasi craftsmen who make their livelihood making distinctive pieces from brass and iron.
Mahabaleshwar undoubtedly is like a postcard but the Hotel Le Meridian is the place that really did it for us. The combination of great forested environs, good food coupled with a convenient late checkout made the trip just so much more awesome !
We loved the exquisite gardens and beautiful cobblestone pathways made with locally sourced laterite bricks that guided us around the 27 acre campus. The rooms were big and stylish perfected with the natural sights and tranquil sounds of mother earth.
The resort had a ton of things to do. From finding fun family activities like housie to a terrific magic show, to playing a bunch of indoor and outdoor games, this place was worth saving up to come and experience.
Incidentally the weekend we were there, a cooking class was scheduled, to which we enrolled. We learnt from scratch the techniques of making a perfect wood fire pizza! Watching it come alive from a piece of dough to a fully smoked pizza was an amazing experience.
The most memorable moments of our trip were spent in the infinity pool overlooking the Sahyadri hills. This view is to die for!! The pool was heated and warmed us up against the blowing mountain breeze. If there’s anything you should come here for, it’s for this unadulterated feeling of oneness with nature, this poetry that fills the air around here, this solace of looking closely into the depths of creation.
Another beautiful landmark is Table Land, from where the view of the setting sun is spell binding. Take a long walk or stroll on a horse and enjoy the delightful charm of one of the longest volcanic plateaus of Asia.
The great thing about Mahabaleshwar is the presence of relatively clean street food vendors. You get a variety of bhels, namkeens and beverages such as farm fresh buttermilk, kokum juice etc; All Fresh and Flavorful. You wont regret sampling some of the local fruit delicacies.