Mahabaleshwar, the most popular hill station in Maharashtra is like our own Kashmir valley to most of the Maharashtrian family vacationers. It is among popular destination to low cost honeymooners also. But to me and my ride partner (not on honeymoon) it is the ideal destination for medium distance (around 250 kms from my home in Mumbai, holidaying for 3 days) ride on my Thunderbird.
(Let me tell you one thing this is my fourth visit to Mahabaleshwar, but just to show my wife this place I have to go here again.)
Very few things happen as per plan in spite of all the advanced plannings, so was our journey, we started 1 hour late at around 7 am after loading luggage on bike and ourselves with accessories (riding gears). Atmosphere was little cold, so the riding jacket and other riding accessories helped us to avoid morning chill just before the sunrise. And the journey started.....
There are two routes to reach Mahabaleshwar from Mumbai, one via Pune and other via Mahad in Konkan. We chose the first one because of awareness of road conditions of the second route. Old highway as it is called to Pune is in good conditions due to continuous repairs they undertook. We drove for around 80 km before taking our first stop for breakfast at Karla. It seemed everything was in our favor because the restaurant at which we stopped for breakfast served the best Misal I had in last 2-3 months (you will come to know about my love for misal in next few writings, my first and last choice for breakfast during ride is MISAL). After this short break we traveled another 80 kms and stopped at Katraj for small tea break to get rid of all the laziness which we were feeling after having breakfast. This is second incidence when we felt our trip is blessed, tea we had given the ultimate rejoice. Route thereafter was in the perfect condition, any riders dream, and hence the journey onward was fun until we reach Wai, the basetown before starting climb to Mahabaleshwar. Wai to Mahabaleshwar road was not in perfect condition, with lot of patch work done at many places. But on this road we were accompanied by cold air.
During planning phase I decided not to do online booking for hotel, instead we will book hotel after reaching there (as per my previous experiences we can bargain on prices with hotel staff and get hotel at cheap rates). But my this assumption put us in trouble, as hotel prices were higher compared to online prices due to more number of tourists and rooms were also not available in many of the hotels. After bargaining with many hotel owners and agents (one can meet more number of agents than hotels) we finally googled a hotel which was 5 kms away at a quite place, Eden Garden Villa. So, we reached our destination at around 2:30 pm after 7-8 hrs of journey.
Plan was to see few places before going to sunset point, so after getting freshen up and on advice of our hotel owner we started our site seeing from Lodwick point. This point is located at around 1 to 1.5 kms from parking, and one has to walk on rocky road with some climbs to reach this point. Half km ahead from this point is Elephant head, we skipped that point as my wife was too tired after travelling for half a day and walking to reach this point. There are some stalls which serve maggi and some snacks items, so we had our lunch on maggi in company with monkeys.