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Old 26th September 2012, 11:26   #1
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Default Exploring Mahabaleshwar again!

Had been ages since I set foot on Mahabaleshwar. It beckoned every monsoon, though monsoon is off-season due to poor visibility. But the nature is at its full glory in the monsoons, and if you get few clear days in midst of monsoon, nothing like it. The hotel rates too are at discounts during these times. With rain badly lashing out Mumbai and surroundings in Sep and as got to hear about Mahabaleshwar weather, situation was there too was not exactly encouraging.

Still decided against the odds and got ourselves booked a Cottage Room at MTDC during the school holidays of Ganeshotsav, 19-20-21 Sep. It came to 1700/night + taxes excluding food. Not bad. The food at the in-house Venna restaurant is decent but feels over-priced, but such is the case in the market too. You got to book online early to get these bookings. The MTDC setup is completely in the jungle and thoroughly enjoyable for those who like such atmosphere. It is immediately right of the municipal naka, fees collection, coming from NH17 Mumbai-Poladpur side. However, it is quite far from market to stroll around anywhere outside in the night, you will need to drive around a bit. We for one enjoy jungles when in such setup and can do with strolls in jungle surroundings rather than fancy market lights.

The best route for a Drive to Mahaby is through the Karnala Bird Sactuary, onto Nh17 to Mahad to Poladpur through awesome Mahaby ghat getting into Mahaby town. The easier one is via the Mumbai-Pune EWay through Wai, Panchgani to Mahaby.

The plan was to start early, drive slow enjoying the picturesque route, try make a visit to Raigad/Pratapgard and land in Mahaby by evening. Enjoy Mahaby and Panchgani for 2 days and either return via the same route OR via Panchgani-Wai-EWay doing some sightseeing in Panchgani.

The original planned route:
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Had some informative brochure from MTDC site about Mahabaleshwar:
Mahabaleshwar MTDC Info.pdf

Also had some map about the Mahabaleshwar points:
Exploring Mahabaleshwar again!-mahabaleshwar-map-sights-points.jpg

But what became more useful is the one below got at MTDC resort, which still had Elephant Head point missing in it:
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Things don't just work out especially when you have a pack of brats to go with. So off we get to a late start at nearly 9 AM on 19 Sep instead of 7 AM. Quite a few spots became investigative, exploring on the way and we couldn't just control the time at various places. So, we had very few points covered in the days leaving no time for Panchgani points and Wai. So decided to skip Panchgani and Wai on return, leaving it for another time, and skipping even the thought of going back the NH17 way at about 7 PM on 21 Sep.

Just zoomed thru the Pasarani ghat, breezing by Panchgani, Wai, onto Satara-Pune HWay, through Mumbai-Pune EWay back to Home in Mumbai around 12 AM with a break of about 1 hour on the way.

The final travel log looked like this:
Exploring Mahabaleshwar again!-1921-sep-2012-mahaby-travel1.jpg

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Last edited by parsh : 26th September 2012 at 18:53.
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Old 26th September 2012, 20:43   #2
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19 Sep 2012: Day 1

We finally set out at around 9 AM from home which means we gonna have to scrap plans of Raigard/Pratapgad for this time and rather make the enthralling drive slowly and enjoy it to the fullest, and that is what we did, forgot time and space limitations and speed for the day and took slow strides towards Mahaby.

The entire stretch of NH66 and NH17 all through Karnala Bird Sanctuary through to Mahad-Poladpur is just amazing to say the least as a driver's paradise, picturesque all the way, laid with green mountains and water bodies, waterfalls either side ever so often, one tends to loose the amount of time driven, numerous stoppages to adore the nature and makes one feel like lets just keeping driving through.

Just as we enter the Karnala Bird Sanctuary, we get a Thumps Up to go on
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But also with that a surprise waiting on a tree nearby besides a roadside pond, just fortunate enough to catch a glimpse while on drive and to stop in time to snap it
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A hawk just cared to sit around for a moment, just enough to snap once and then it was gone like a wind
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Various scenes of greens, tree shaded corridors, twists and turns, waterfalls keep on enthralling us as we drive through

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A distant waterfall up in the green mountain catches out attention
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And also the Bird on a Wire in front of it
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The close up of the waterfall does beckon for more up close and personal view but, alas, no time
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Last edited by parsh : 27th September 2012 at 08:55.
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Old 26th September 2012, 21:10   #3
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And on the opposite side the riverside and rusty boats beckon for some more snaps. You can actually drive upto the waterfront on the opposite side through the kachcha rasta but we decided against it and just used some footwork.

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Then again the twisty windy road takes on
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Last edited by parsh : 26th September 2012 at 21:13.
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Old 26th September 2012, 23:11   #4
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A little further ahead a little before Mahad, we make another stop soon to adore some work of artisans...The Gandharpale Caves. These are some awesome Buddhist creations, quite a lifetime ago. They are too inviting but too far up to make the trek, inspite of nicely laid steps, difficult in the given time in hand and destination to reach, with a pack of brats in tow, had to leave it for another day.

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A blue dragonfly though makes a brief stop for us
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And then again onto the winding road ahead
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Where the bygone road meets the present
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Last edited by parsh : 26th September 2012 at 23:15.
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Old 27th September 2012, 09:54   #5
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We make a quick drive through Mahad to pay passing visit to Chavdar Tale and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Smarak.

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Further down, we land at Vithhal Kamat's restaurant on way for lunch break. It looks ok but the food did not feel appealing to taste at all, the pav-bhaji, idli-wada were all wash out except for sada dosa. Just managed through as we had to get to the destination and had a nice ghat waiting for us to spend time more fruitfully.

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Further ahead some colors catch attention amongst paddy fields for a quick stop
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And on a narrow bridge with stream underneath
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And yes we do have to make way for Chicken Crossing as well
Exploring Mahabaleshwar again!-p1120882.jpg
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Old 27th September 2012, 10:36   #6
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Thus begins the much awaited stretch of Mahaby ghat and we make the most of it, taking it really slowly. For those who don't know, 2PMish is not the right time to do this stretch, not because of traffic or anything but because you miss the amazing morning glory, which we did miss inspite of prior knowledge due to our own constraints. So do plan to make this stretch earliest of morning and cover day break on way, it just becomes too exotic a drive.

Feels like a dead-end ahead and nowhere to go but attempt hill climb. But alas, I do not have Hill-Assist on my Innova
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And Pratapgad stands majestically ahead blocking the way beckons to come up there, but have to leave it for another time for now
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Innumerable ranges of Sahyadri start showing numerous layers creating enchanting siestas
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Last edited by parsh : 27th September 2012 at 10:38.
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Old 27th September 2012, 11:08   #7
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The beauty of the Mahaby ghat is that it is very easy and allows you to enjoy the views while comfortably driving around without any heavy steep inclines and hairpins, just easy and thoroughly enjoyable twists and turns. So you can easily focus on smooth and slow drive and enjoy the siestas all around you. This ofcourse if you are not in hurry and want to enjoy the drive than just drive.

The beauty of the mountains and valleys is at its fullest glory, laden with green makhmal all over and does not stop to amaze at every turn, one could just walk through the whole ghat the whole day leisurely enjoying the siestas...

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Old 27th September 2012, 12:36   #8
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The clouds start playing game of sun and shadow

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As we check into our Cottage Room around 4 PM, at the backyard, we have some guests waiting for us.

She is very much awaiting some nibbles from us but gets disappointed.
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A rare sighting of Giant Squirrel...very beautiful brown fur, what a sight she makes for, need to be very observing in the jungles to spot them. There was only one more time we could spot it but could not snap.
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And in the front, this guy was too adamant and possessive of our car and wouldn't budge from his place, did not allow us near the car for nearly half an hour until the caretaker guys helped us shoo him away. He at times even tried to pry open the door rubber beading and was very watchful of any chance to get inside the car. Fortunately, we were saved from things like his brothren did to neighboring Verna by chewing on its stubby radio antenna. Seems he must have taken too hard because we got the fruits of it on the day of checkout on 21 Sep morning...
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Old 27th September 2012, 15:34   #9
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Default Re: Exploring Mahabaleshwar again!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 27th September 2012, 16:49   #10
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Finally, we manage to get our car free from the clutches of the monster monkey. It is already past 4:45 pm and stomachs are craving for some caring, now that the beuty of the ghats had vanished, they had come to their senses. So we first head to MTDC restaurant and munch on some snacks with coffee. The day is still not set and there is still some time on hand to make hay of whatever time is left. So we decide to drive around and atleast tick one item of out itinerary if possible.

We like to adore temples for their location, build, history and architecture. So we decide we can atleast cover Kshetra Mahabaleshwar and head towards the its direction, which is the only thing possible given the evening time.

Now, whoever wants to cover this should actually club it with atleast Arthur's Seat point conglomerate as they are pretty far and nearly neighbors so to say (although Arthur's seat is a little farther ahead on the same route).

The Kshetra Mahabaleshwar comprises a conglomeration of temples in a sort of a complex connected by black stone flooring/steps. All these temples are built quite a lifetime ago in nearly one corner of Mahaby. They are built using massive black stone blocks which still stand testimony of time at the foot of that hill (but still on the whole Mahaby hill).

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The Panchganga Temple - This is said to be 4500 year old standing as it was built in Black Stone Blocks, except for the modern newly erected additional tin sheds on top. Five rivers originate from here, Koyna, Krishna, Savitri, Venna and Gayatri. Bhagirathi and Saraswati are hidden and said to make appearance every 12 and 60 years respectively.

Quite an inquisitive thing but no answers except for a few faded Sanskrit Shokas in black stone and sayings passed from generations. There are those 7 outlets created in stone since ages which carry water of the rivers and merge (Sangam) thru a Gomukh (mouth of a cow, the cow herself is shown feeding her calf underneath her, quite an creation) into a stone tank inside and from there they internally, below the ground, separate into those rivers and emerge from mountain into the surrounding valleys.

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The backside of the temple too doesn't reveal much. It is all walled and floored with huge black stone blocks right upto where it touches the mountain.

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With that we embrace the darkness which reminds us its time to head back. The night drive through those narrow lonely streets is also quite enchanting. We drive back to the other end, to the MTDC resort, have nice meals and retire for the day.

Last edited by parsh : 27th September 2012 at 16:53.
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Old 27th September 2012, 17:50   #11
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Default Re: Exploring Mahabaleshwar again!

Beautiful Pics. Did you try the famous "Kombdi Vade" on the way to Mahabaleshwar?
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Old 27th September 2012, 18:30   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidd25 View Post
Beautiful Pics. Did you try the famous "Kombdi Vade" on the way to Mahabaleshwar?
Thanks Sid. No, we gave it a skip this time, did not want to mix the pleasures of driving thru the landscapes and heavy eating with each other, else we would have been delayed even further with the lethargy we had afterwards

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Old 27th September 2012, 18:50   #13
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Default Re: Exploring Mahabaleshwar again!

Beautiful pics. I remember a time when Mahaby used to just shutter down during the monsoon. Not sure if that still happens.
This side of the world just bursts alive during the monsoons

I did not hear such good reviews of MTDC in Mahaby. Can you add your opinion and a few pics on the state of the rooms and the overall resort?
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Old 27th September 2012, 19:04   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selfdrive View Post
Beautiful pics. I remember a time when Mahaby used to just shutter down during the monsoon. Not sure if that still happens.
This side of the world just bursts alive during the monsoons

I did not hear such good reviews of MTDC in Mahaby. Can you add your opinion and a few pics on the state of the rooms and the overall resort?
Thanks selfdrive. About MTDC Mahaby, I have few pics as such, which I will share as I go along finishing the TL. It is not Great but Good to live in and with an atmosphere no one else got. The ambience is worth living for. But like a Govt managed resort, it needs lots of room maintenance for sure. We would have liked to see better state of Cottage Rooms but could live in it peacefully without any worries as such. The food too is nice in their in-house restaurant, atleast the veg we tried (just did not want to try non-veg this time), but again not Great. Overall a nice place to lodge in.

The monsoons do shut down Mahaby for quite sometime when monsoon is in peak as most of it gets flooded, no commuting is possible, becomes too slippery. But when the monsoon is receding, that is the time one can use to make most of it there.

Last edited by parsh : 27th September 2012 at 19:19.
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Old 27th September 2012, 23:28   #15
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20 Sep 2012: Day 2

The next day morning brings beautiful music to ears with the chirping of the birds, the noises of hyper active monkeys which have been so calmly sleeping throughout the night and some more creatures out of their slumber. The daybreak brings beautiful foggy weather into the jungle and the way the fog moves around, just creates quite a dramatic effect. Its just worth experiencing.

The main entrance to the MTDC resort.

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The Cottage Rooms on the left where our car stands. The barely visible lane on right side opposite middle garden are the standard rooms, charged nearly half of cottage rooms.

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The Cottage Room we stayed in, definitely could have done with a coat of paint. But other than that nothing lacking as such, with an adjoining pantry room and a big bath, no dirtiness anywhere. Not a five star room but pretty decent and spacious too with all the necessary amenities including Cable TV (which ofcourse remained off for most of the time), and large windows (with mosquito nets) to the views outside with a separate backyard for the cottage (the cottages are in pairs). But other than paint, it is nicely maintained, changed with clean white bed linens every morning by housekeeping, provided clean pressed blankets, and clean white towels.

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The restaurant decently maintained, no worry about dirtiness as such and service too done with proper upkeep.

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This one seems to have captured the highest vantage point near the restaurant and garden area.

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The tress are also dressed with beautiful green velvet linens.

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A Trishul stands guard near the reception area.

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The most sluggish creatures too are out of their slumber upon daybreak.

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The langurs like to keep to their work as often as possible, which is nitpicking food and tormenting the guests to snatch some from them. There was an incident where the monkey got into one of the standard rooms opposite ours and got away with some food items. So one has to be really wary of these buggers at all times, any movement of food items or polythene and they are more than ready to make an attempt snatching it.

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Last edited by parsh : 27th September 2012 at 23:33.
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