Mahabaleshwar has much more to offer than just Strawberries and a cool weather. It’s one of the better hill stations of India which is still not completely ravaged by man and made into a concrete hell. A few must dos when you are there:
Main Market visit: Well there is nothing else to do there in the evening except for a stroll at the local market. Not more than a kilometer long, it’s a narrow lane with shops selling local delights on both sides. These are mostly Squashes, Jams and Cocktail bases like Mojito; Chana (Chick Peas) shops; Shoes & Chappals; Dress Material and of course small restaurants. During Nov – Mar, you will find both sides lined up with hawkers selling kilos of strawberries and blueberries at less than $2 a Kg, steal for someone who is coming from cities. Almost every second restaurant will be selling the Mahabaleshwar’s famous ‘Strawberry & Cream’ dish which is lapped up by thousands everyday.
Sunset (Bombay) Point: A narrow lane next to the MSTDC’s Hotel will take to a dusty opening from where you can see fantastic sunsets. Very crowded over the weekend, you have people from all parts of the hill station coming there in every conceivable form of transportation. Please avoid the horse rides, which are tourist traps – with a 5 mins ride being charged in excess of $5 and a single photo shot with a prancing horse leaving you with a few dollars lighter.
Old Mahabaleshwar: My favorite place there. A lovely ride through thick forest on both sides with occasional food stops, you reach a crossing from where you can go to the multiple ‘sightseeing points’ for having a decent look at the valleys and plains below. Some of them require a long walk and are complete avoidable as the view is hardly different. Better option is to just drive down to the end of the road and back with a stop somewhere in middle to enjoy the valley below. A visit to the Lord Mahabaleshwar / Panchganga temple is a must for most Indian visitors and this site is very sacred to Hindus. The complex has 3 main temples and worth a visit. Shops selling handicrafts and other items line up the walkway.
Strawberry plantations and farms: While walking towards the ‘old‘ temple, you will come across on your left ‘Muskaan’ and another strawberry farms selling excellent shakes and ice-creams. A must visit as you can go inside and pluck strawberries right off the ground during season time. Gracious hosts, they will offer you well packed fresh strawberries for taking home at fairly reasonable prices. There is another farm just before the temple that has strawberries, cauliflowers, broccoli, red cabbage, lettuce and other exotic vegetable being grown and you can take your pick and buy the freshest ones possible. Prices are worse than Mumbai, but quality is unmatched
Venna Lake: A small lake with boating and usual horse riding facilities – lines with shops selling carrots, beetroot and strawberries during season time. Try and go before sunset as the boat-ride is just fascinating around that time. You have multiple options of paddle and row boats