Written by Guest Contributor : Tazeen Syeda
I am a city crawler who loves Bangalore but every once in a while I need an escape to some simple adventurous place. This time I chose Pune and planned a visit to my Bff. On my 3rd day we decided to visit Elephant’s head point Mahabaleshwar and started the journey at 10:00am. (Suggestion: It’s better to start as early as 8:00 am) Mahabaleshwar is located in the Sahyadri mountain range and has an average elevation of 1353 meters.
We started from Baner Pashan link road and the total distance to our destination was 120 Km. My friend Syju was driving us in her monster XUV500. As she hit the NH48 two things struck me – her skills behind the wheel and the beauty of NH48 route. This part of the highway was carved in the mountains so every direction I turned I could see beautiful picture worthy scenery. We soon reached the tollgate and at the same moment realised neither one of us had cash. We had a card and Paytm and with her persuasion skills Syju was able to make the payment with Paytm (Suggestion: Not everyone has Syjus’s skills carry cash – cost us INR 170 both ways).
Then we were stopped by a traffic cop, who checked our documents. My friend’s vehicle is registered in Karnataka state and we were driving in Maharashtra we were lucky her dad had done legal transfer. But what helped us I think was our ability to converse in Hindi. Things sorted and we were on our way again. (Suggestion: If you can’t speak the Hindi or Marathi find a Marathi speaking friend or hire a Marathi speaking drive). By 12pm we managed to leave the highway and hit the ghat section.
Our first touristy stop was at the Mapro farm Wai – Surur Raod known for their strawberry produce is a popular tourist destination. It is also host to the annual Strawberry Festival. Since we were visiting in August (monsoons) strawberries had disappeared. But the farm had ample supply of fruit crushes Squash beverages Jams and Jellies. The HDFC bank atm in their farm supplied us with the cash we needed along with the tour of the farm.
Our next stop ‘Lake View Restaurant’ for lunch. So following the Panchgani – Mahabaleshwar road we reached Bhose – Mahabaleshwar road that runs along the Venna River.
One can find many resort and restaurants on this stretch as the Venna River flows into Venna lake and creates a perfect view of the valley embracing the lake. When we sat on the side view of the restaurant drinking the scenic view it took us some time to process the exquisiteness.
The valley had formed a womb and in it held the serene and stunning lake, a picture perfect location for a national geographic magazine, absolutely beautiful and unassuming. We clicked pictures but they don’t do justice to view. Unable to let go but having to move on we took our leave and drove ahead to our destination The Elephant point.
It being Monsoon the sky opened its doors as showers made the drive trickier. Huge potholes had eaten up the tarred road, the mist added to the adventure as the path ahead disappeared and the slow movement of monster as it swayed and swerved added to the whole setting reminding us of Baskerville Hall in Devonshire (reference to ‘Hounds of Baskerville’ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). I expected Count Dracula, if not the bloody hound, to drag us to his damp lair.
When we finally reached the Elephant head point rain paused but place was shrouded in mist making me sing “Far over the misty mountains cold” making Tolkien very proud.
Even though the valley view was invisible the place itself was incredible, the more we explored the more mysterious it appeared. There was a little trekking path that led to the jungle we explored for a short distance, it was mostly used by animals which was apparent by the animal dropping on the path. Remember the ‘Sleepy Hallow’ scene where Ichabod Crane is attached by the headless horseman in the woods I’m sure this was the place. It was hauntingly beautiful and we wanted to explore further. But we lost courage after a point and decided to return as both our mobile phones were out of power logic dictated it would be a wrong choice to go in so we listened to logic.
Me trying to gaze through the mist without success and a picture of Monstor
The mystery path :
Time seem to have eloped as we soon realised it was almost 4pm. To ensure we reached the highway before the sunset we started our return journey. Pretty soon we reached our last touristy stop “Cheese factory” on Bhose – Mahabaleswar raod. A unique place with interesting structure, well maintained offers a peak into their creation of chees. We drank hot chocolate watching the showers as the sky resumed its job devotedly, purchased cheese, admired the old carriage, vintage Ford car, and a Lambretta scooter which were on display near the entrance before completing our visit to Mahabaleshwar and reaching NH48 to drive back home.
Destination: Elephants Head Point Mahabaleshwar
Distance from Pune : 120 Km Southwest of Pune
Places we visited: Mapro Farm/ Lake View Hotel/ Elephant head point/ Cheese factory
Time : August mid monsoon season