When you live in a fast paced city like Pune, one wants to break free every little while; so did I! Walking among the clouds while biting into delicious juicy strawberries is something that I dream about even today, when it has nearly been a month since my weekend getaway. I’m working in Pune, my getaway was to the most obvious place – Mahabaleshwar. However, after I’ve visited I understood and completely agree with the hype. A few of us friends booked a car on rent in Pune with a top-rated driver and left for Mahabaleshwar well in time so that we could enjoy our weekend to the fullest

After the thorough research and referenced, we hired a car and got set to head to “God of great power” or Mahabaleshwar. On our way we decided that we have to visit Tapola or Mini Kashmir; the name in itself states the reason as to why it’s a must visit place. We also mutually agreed to visit the Plateau of flowers. Since we had a driver who knew the area well, he suggested that we visit the Mapro Garden on our way first and foremost. When we did, we couldn’t hold our excitement. There was a chocolate factory, fresh ice creams and a charming landscape that celebrated nature along with a little cascade of water.

Further on when we reached Mahabaleshwar and after checking in, we headed towards the Kaas Pathar which was about an hour’s drive from our hotel. The vast volcanic lateritic plateau overlooks the stunning dense Koyna wildlife sanctuary and on its south end is the Kaas Lake. It was a perfect point for picnic but because we didn’t carry anything that was a miss. However, we had time at hand and a car at our disposal, we headed further on to the Vajrai falls or the mighty three stepped falls. The trail that leads to these was a mud road that crossed through Kaas village. We aren’t the adrenaline junkies so we were happy to view them from a distance where we had a panoramic view of the valley that was covered with greenery enveloped in between clouds. It was magical even for someone like me who isn’t really obsessed with nature. I was zapped at its sheer beauty.

After the long day we went back to our hotel and enjoyed some nice time talking and eating local treats. These included the most obvious choices – strawberries and chikki. Our hotel was nice enough to suggest that we try the Maharashtrian thali and Dhansak. I stuffed myself with the food as it was so good but because I had a little too many strawberries I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would’ve liked to. Lesson learnt! I was on a local-food-minus-strawberry diet the next day.

Our day began with a visit to Tapola which looked like something out of a postcard. Though there were a lot of options for adventure sports and treks but we just wanted to lay back and enjoy the view. Since we had missed out a picnic at Kaas, we were well prepared this time. After this we went to see the Needle Hole point near Kate’s point. Our drive was scenic but I truly understood the essence of the word scenic after what I saw here. Natural rock formation with overhanging cliffs that look like the head and trunk of an Elephant, giving you a view of the valley with clouds at your feet and greenery as far as your eyes can see. It was just glorious!

After this we to the Town Bazaar and just walked around for a bit, sipped some strawberry milkshake (yup! I broke my firm promise with myself in a jiffy) and enjoyed the lively crowd where tourists were buying over priced handicrafts and locals where filling up their daily needs. Once we got refreshed we headed to the Connaught peak where we had an alluring view of a lake and valley. This place seemed like one out of a movie and since it was so fantastic a friend of mine decided to propose to his girlfriend with all of us close friends around. I don’t know if it was the view or whether he had planned it but it just took our hearts away. Since she said yes, it was time for us to party. However, Mahabaleshwar is a quiet town so our party was back in our hotel room where we popped some champagne and enjoyed local Maharashtrian food.

I don’t if it was the whole proposing scene or the clouds at our feet but Mahabaleshwar gave me such fond memories that I felt alive. I think I left my heart here and I wish I can go back every now because distance does make the heart fonder but memories fade, and I don’t want my memories from this beautiful little hill station to ever leave me. I would suggest that you do your research and book a dependable licensed taxi from Pune to Mahabaleshwar so that you don’t have to worry about your going around and also, you need a reputed agency for the purpose of safety as well. Even as a group our major concern about hiring a car was the safety.

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