I had been to Mahabaleshwar for the first time in December 2009 but I had not started travel blogging then. My second trip to the charming hill-station in Maharashtra brought back fond memories and also an opportunity to explore and shoot many pictures keeping in mind my travel blog.
Last Sunday, I had been for a refreshing strawberry picking trip organized by The Western Routes, after which we headed out to the Mahabaleshwar market. While I’ll be writing a post about my strawberry picking experience, here’s a must-buy list in the Mahabaleshwar market.
The market runs for over a kilometer on both sides of a narrow lane and was bursting with colours. While I walked almost the entire stretch of the market, I identified a few things that one should or could pick up which are unique to the region.
Strawberries: Well, that’s the obvious 1st on the list. If you are going to the farm to pick strawberries, you could buy some from the market. The strawberry season is from October to April and strawberries were pretty cheap at Rs 120 per kg compared to Pune, where it is sold for Rs 320 a kilo. I also bought some black raspberries, which are not available in Pune.
Farm fresh carrots and radish: If you look at the picture of these carrots and radishes, you will know how irresistible they are and how hard it is not to buy them. I used them in cooking and salads, and they were absolutely delicious.
Wooden items. I saw an old man carving something on wood, so I walked upto him and had a chat. Imtiaz, the artisan told me that the wood is sourced locally and is called Bhurkhadi and Lokhadi (these are the phonetic spellings of the local names as I couldn’t get the English ones). His entire family is involved in making these wooden items, different members involved in different activities like cutting the wood, polishing it, carving on it, etc. They are also invited to participate in exhibitions and fairs by the government. In the market you will see many such craftsmen selling their wares ranging from trays, toys, combs, ladles, etc.
Leather footwear: There are numerous shops in in the market selling leather footwear. It differs from the Kolhapuri leather chappals, in the way the leather is treated and processed before the final product is made.
Syrups, juice concentrates, fruit crushes: Since the hill station is a berry bowl, many factories such as Mapro, Mala’s and Manama have set shop, producing and selling fruit crushes and concentrates of almost any and all flavours under the sky.
Honey: Many agriculturists are into bee keeping in Mahabaleshwar and so there are many outlets selling pure honey in different varieties too, having varying health benefits.
Turmeric: Bet, you didn’t see this coming! Even on the way to the farm where we picked strawberries, I saw the roads dotted with stalls selling bright yellow packets of something. Only when we stopped later to have some sugarcane juice, I realized that the shop nearby was selling the same; pure unadulterated turmeric powder as well as fresh turmeric root. The aroma was beautiful and so was the colour much brighter than the powder one buys at supermarkets.
Strawberry cream: After all this shopping you may refresh with a tall glass of strawberry cream, which is ubiquitous, with almost every second shop in the market selling the same. Another variation is strawberries with ice cream. Both taste equally good.
Cane baskets and items: There were quite a few of these shops as well in the market, selling baskets, holders and cases in different shapes and beautiful designs.
Pappads: There are many shops set up by families who sell home made items like pappads, pickles, noodles, etc. I bought a packet of multi-coloured pappads which colours such as green, orange, white, and brown lent by ingredients such spinach, dal, rice and finger millet, respectively.
I guess all this shopping will leave your bags stuffed and your wallets empty, but what’s a trip without shopping, isn’t it?