Friday, March 10, 2006
A trip at last....
The last weekend holiday that I had been to was in October 2005 to Ganpatipule. Ever since then, several plans have been thought of, discussed and finalized, only to fall flat at the last moment.
But finally last week, all things finally fell into place and we were finally off to Mahabaleshwar...
Like last time, we started off early on Saturday morning.. this allows for two things, a. you get out of Mumbai very fast (in fact, so fast that we missed the right turn that hits the Goa highway and found ourselves on the Pune Expressway..) and b. you get to see the rising sun and savour the early morning freshness in the atmosphere.. we fairly zipped through the expressway and hit Pune by 8 am for a quick breakfast before proceeding towards Satara.. Being a part of the Golden Quadrilateral, that road is quite good and we moved steadily and got to the MTDC resort in Mahabaleshwar at around 10.30 am.. taking just over 5 hrs for the 320 km journey..
A quick comment on the resort.. MTDC resorts are recommended wherever you go for a holiday.. the best part about them is that they get the best locations in town.. so invariably, you will find an MTDC resort spread over a huge area with individual bungalows, cottages separated by gardens and greenery.. It makes a great relaxing experience..and they are always reasonably priced and offer all the facilities required..
Anyways, coming back to our trip, after a quick breakfast, we were off to Pratapgarh fort (around 20 km). This historic fort is best known as the place where Shivaji killed the Mughal general Afzal Khan. It has a temple on the top alongwith a very good exhibition-sale of handicrafts.. after a quick tour of the place we were back for a long overdue lunch at the resort by around 3 pm.... the lunch was also too good.. or maybe it was because we were so famished.. in any case, after a hearty lunch we hit the sack.. initially we had planned to visit a few points before going to the Bombay (Sunset) Point.. but we got up late and just about managed to reach Sunset Point in time to see the sun dissapear over the western horizon..
BTW it is also called Bombay Point because, apparently, on a clear dark night, you can see the lights of Mumbai about 260 kms to the northwest... seemed difficult to me looking at the haze all around the point.. but nevertheless we managed to get a few good snaps there..
After the sunset, we were off to the main market (with Rang De Basanti and Bluffmaster numbers blaring in our car).. the main market street in Mahabaleshwar is a nice little street.. although it was not nearly full season it was full that Saturday evening.. and the most omnipresent item was, of course, strawberry. It was present in all forms, the fruit itself being sold on the road, or as strawberry shakes or ice-cream with strawberry etc sold at the various ice-cream parlours.. all in all, it was mostly red around.. from the market we went to Vienna Lake at around 9.30 pm.. at that time, of course, the lake was closed and there was hardly anyone around.. but we did manage to find a 'buttawala' around and had one of the sweetest corn that I have eaten.. the lake at that time was looking surreal.. darkness around, stars all over you, alongwith the mist and silence for company... that was followed by dinner alongwith a quick beer and then back to the resort by midnight..
The next morning after breakfast we checked out of the resort and visited whatever points we could cover.. prominent amongst them was Arthur's seat and Elphinstone point.. the former is a good one with a viewing platform from which one can observe the valley both on the west and east... from there we went off to the Mafco's farms and store.. this is the the main firm producing and dealing in strawberry products... and guess what, between the five of us, we picked up an astounding 15 kg of strawberry's, not to mention bottles of strawberry crush etc.. all of this were dumped at the back of the car..
From there it was back to Mumbai via Panchgani with another late lunch at Pune.. while coming back the expressway looked beautiful with the sun setting and our car blazing ahead at 130 kmph in that direction.. it gave the perfect ending to a good and relaxing trip.. here's hoping that the next one is very soon... cheers..
at 7:26 PM