Next days visit to Pratapgarh was a dissapointment as we took the Asiad bus (Government bus) which gave us hardly one hour to visit the fort. The climb up to fort itself would take more than an hour so we satiated ourselves by reaching upto the Bhavani Mata Mandir and then walked down. However, having visited other forts, was dissapointed to walk on the tiled stairs of the Pratapgarh Fort, and I don't think it is well maintained either. Hardly saw anything on the fort due to the time constraint as the same bus was to take us back...what a bloody waste. As we waited in the bus for some of the late latifs, a couple was coochie cooing in the jungle nearby and the litle girl behind my seat started shouting from her window "Didi jaldi aao, bus nikal jaayegi"...talk about embarassment!!
More than visiting the various points of Mahabaleshwar, what I really like was the weather, the calm and serene surroundings at the guest house, no cemented cardboard monsters, being in the middle of a jungle, the early morning and evening bird calls, strawberry, cabbage plantations you see everywhere and the bloody red strawberries of course. The mountains are always enticing and relaxing.Some gyaan for fellow travellers, coz an intelligent man is one who learns from his own experiences and a VERY intelligent man is one who learns from others experiences.
Having your own vehicle is preferable to reach and wander around Mahabalshwar
Taking the taxi to take the guided tours are fine, but if you ask them to drop them even 2 kms away, they charge you nothing less than 200 bucks.
Other modes of transport are the ST buses and share jeeps (expect 20 people to be stuffed like chickens)
All points have the board "Use of plastic is strictly prohibited and will defaulters will be fined". So, if you read it follow it.
Most of the main points are far away, so if you have your own vehicle, you get to spend more time, unless your wife wants to ride the dinosaur or feed the monkey :)
Enjoy the climate, the breeze, the greenery, the surroundings, enjoy everything...make it count.
Be patient to get a glimpse of the different species of birds and enjoy the plethora of colorful flowers you will find everywhere.
If you want to take the bus to Pratapgarh (there are nly 2 buses, one at 9:15 and the other at 9:30), reach the bus stop early for the tickets as the staff issuing tickets are the most inefficient lot. You can actually avoid the Pratapgarh tour if you don't have your own vehicle as it takes an hour each to go and come and an hour to visit the fort, which is too less a time to visit this vast fort. If you enjoy the bus ride through curvy mountain paths and fill yourselves with the scenery of the mountains and ravines below, you can hop in.
I booked my bus tickets at www.redbus.in. You can also book them at www.neetabus.in. Very efficient travels. They sms you the bus details in advance