Ever noticed that almost all hill stations in India, starting from Shimla and Mussourie in the North, Darjeeling in the East to Ooty in South India are called as “Queen of the Hills”. The polygamist king though, has been missing. Living in Pune, my lovely queen of the hills has been Mahabaleshwar.
Mahabaleshwar is overly commercialized and is just like any other “Queen of the Hills”, with its crowded streets full of cackling Gujjus and Mumbaikars looking for a respite from the heat. Most visitors come visit Mahabaleshwar during the summer and Christmas vacations, but my favorite time will undoubtedly be a week during August and September when you can enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls in the misty mornings and walk amongst the clouds in the evening. And if the rains don’t suit you, then you can come visit during Jan – Feb when the crowds are thinner and the chill in the air does help work up a really good appetite.
We visited Mahabaleshwar during the winter months, with the early evenings, fresh strawberries and cold nights. Here are a few more snaps of our visit.
Panchgani is famed for its table land, some beautiful Parsi bungalows and some amazing views. Here is one:
Though, if I were to visit Panchgani, I will definitely not miss the beautiful Mapro Gardens with their garden fresh sandwiches, gorgeous ice creams (made of fruits, sugar and milk – NOTHING ELSE) and thin crust pizzas as well as the chance to chat up in Gujarati with some fat uncle from Mumbai.
Venna lake looks beautiful, but trust me and don’t get conned in trying to go paddling in the lake in the Mahabaleshwar sun as it is more likely to burn you than tan you.
Mahabaleshwar is best enjoyed by businessmen from Mumbai looking to keep their wives out of their hair, honeymoon couples from Gujarat, students from Pune looking for a nice time with their girlfriends, the guys without girl friends come for the ride (on their bikes that is) and sometimes some poor IT guys like us also get to spend some time at our perenially overbooked guesthouses.