Heading for a weekend gateway is always exciting, but it becomes more of a thrill when you have so much to explore and visit.
Though the places you read above are to be explored in or after monsoon to find there real potential but when places like Pune starts getting hot such places turns out to be heaven weekend gateways. We made our visit in the first week of May.
How to reach:-
Reach Pune then hit the road
- You can easily find buses depending upon the suitable time and budget.
- Booking a cab is also a good idea as you will find every place explore-able on you way to destination.
- The best way is to book a self-drive car from zoom cars or myles and travel with no restrictions.
- Solo travelers can also find bikes on rent.
We picked Self Drive from Hinjewadi, we booked a Mahindra scorpio. A brand new sparkling red Scorpio just 800 KM on ODO was our ride for next 2 days. After all paper work we started and soon stopped for a quick photo session and some quick-bites.Our plan was quite clear to start from Pune and cover every spot till Koyna. It was a 350 KM trip so we took 400 KM package.
Then we flagged off to hit the highway with loud music, isn’t it a good way to start your weekend. The good thing is that you find good roads, some places you may find work in progress. Wide open roads with views of hills.
After covering some distance we again stopped for some tea and snacks.
We were soon going to enter a tunnel, you will find quite a number of tunnels on your way. This was a 1 KM tunnel, we opened our windows and shouted like kids to make our loud voice Eco. Soon the tunnel was over and we could see the bright sun and sky.
Then came the toll, like all other tourist places you will end up paying several toll and entry fee, some of them you wont even understand why you paid :p
The lined up vehicles to pay gave a pause to our journey, but we were full of joy singing loud, peeking into other vehicles to find what people are up to 😀 You can easily find some expensive loud bikes and cars or group of bikers around heading towards hills.
Soon we were approaching the hills and started climbing them, we were welcomed by a upside down truck in one of the turns. You need to be very careful on these sharp turns. Some awesome roads we crossed, where turns were visible.
Soon we crossed the hills and found no place to park our vehicle and gaze the view, we enjoyed the view from moving vehicle and sooner we realized that we had crossed Khandala, our first point of attraction. We were on plains now but the views had changed, beautiful green lush trees around the two-lane road. We stopped under a mango tree with the aim to pluck some of the mangoes, but the person standing there ask us not to.
After clicking some perfect pictures or should I say DP like pictures we covered some more KM but had to stop as we found the views changing its color from green to orange, some beautiful trees surrounded the roads making views more contrast.
Some old Banyan trees had stretched there arms to roads and were making there solid presence.
Soon we were stopped and asked for Panchgani entry toll, this is how we realized that we reached Panchgani. After paying we started finding points of attracting in Panchgani, we took a right turn and ended up to a dead end. It was a underdevelopment view point with almost no crowd. Sydney Land, must tell you places here have some fancy names.
We passed many view points but we continued as we had already spent a lot of time at Sydney point. We were not focused on our next point of attraction, the famous Mapro Gardens, we were amazed to see all the crowd clustered there. We parked the vehicle, though area was crowded but we could smell the off season, all outlets were not that alive and open. We reached out to the strawberries road side stalls.
Both side of road was filled with stalls loaded with juicy colorful strawberries. Sold at cheap price ₹100/KG people including us were hovering over them. other fruits also drove our attention like mulberries and carrots, reminding us of Bugs Bunny.
Sooner we realized that we were there to visit Mapro Gardens, from entrance to the exit everything was in the shape of strawberries. Campus is beautifully made with waterfalls, tree house, cartoon characters, fancy seating arrangements and Mapro products open mall, huge discounts are provided.
Mouthwatering smell of food items were constantly attracting us, but after checking the menu we decided to explore food outside the campus and return to taste the desserts offered inside.
Outside the campus we found quite a number of stalls with several offerings, we ate Wada Pav, Misil Pav and a KG of strawberries.
Eating those our attention was taken to our next target stall with ‘Chana Sing’. I found the person making those Chanas in style, he was tossing those chana’s with sand. Several flavors were available and one can pick according to his/her taste.
We completed the raid and quickly marched towards the Mapro’s restaurant to eat much awaited desserts.
Menu was the interesting part as we had to select only 3 desserts. We ended up ordering 2 Sizzling hot chocolate brownie as I love chocolate and a Fresh Strawberry with cream and Ice cream.
I have a good and long experience eating sizzling hot brownie and this was up to the mark, though strawberry with cream was new to me, tasted a little soft and less sweet. One of my friend was not ready to leave the platter and ate the chocolate till its last drop, so tasty it was. Here the sizzling hot brownie had the topping of views and cold breeze.
Seating area was surrounded with the maximum crowd also some kids were busy feeding the gold fishes in nearby water body with a beautiful and small waterfall.
A wishing well was well located between the exit and product mall. These small small things make the campus interesting.
We started our journey after a long and mouthwatering break, now we moved moved into much more depth of Mahabaleshwar and found sleek roads with more traffic, sooner we were on a less crowded and a densely green road, sunshine was hardly reaching the roads, we stopped by for some pictures to be clicked. Sign Boards of wild animals existing in region was scaring us, suddenly some where from forest a big dog ran towards us and we were inside our vehicle.
We then headed towards the elephants head, it is not accessible from vehicle. We had to park our vehicle and walk for 1 KM. Before that we energized ourself’s with the view and soda. Chairs kept near view point are perfect for clicking pictures.
Horse is available if you want to reach this 1 KM with ease, we walked. Monkey welcomed us to the high cliff.
The views offered here are incredible, though we did not find the spot to locate the elephants face but we reached to its head.
The day was soon going to end but we had not reached our last point of attraction Tapola, from where river flows and has Koyna Wildlife century nearby.
We decided to skip the jungle and find a stay in Tapola. You have drive down the hill to reach Tapola, roads are not that good. We stopped in only fuel station to get diesel and inquire about the accommodation in Tapola, we also got to know about the ATM in Tapola. Please note you are going to enter a peace zone, we had different providers sim cards but none worked on the way to Tapola. Only network available here was BSNL, that too we had to try for several times to get calls connected.
After slow drive of 25 KM we reached to the river and found a stay in riverfront itself, rooms and tents were available but rooms suited us. We paid ₹2000/room and unlimited dinner for ₹250/person. Menu was dictated by us according to our taste, with all other food items we were much more excited for ‘sitafal rabdi’ which was suggested by hotel’s manager in dessert. Some of us ended eating 2-3 bowls of it.
We ended our day with sun setting into the dense forest, mountains and river, view from room was relaxing.
You will find hard to get some good food in Tapola so plan to get it arranged with accommodation itself.
Due to summer water was less in the river but enough to experience kayaking, we planned it for morning and slept after playing carom and archery. we skipped bonfire due to summer.
Finally the day ended with tons of new memories of breathtaking views. We slept hoping for a thrilling Sunday.
In the morning we had our breakfast and headed directly to much awaited kayaking experience. As the water was less we went down for 80-90 ft. with the paddle in hand, we started with the basic training on ground to turn and go forward. Soon our feet were in mud, dropped the boat in water and with jittering heart and shaking hands I was pushed into the water, instructor told about the depth of water at various points.
I returned within few minutes for the first time, but created some confidence and waited for my next turn, in the next turn I was not willing to touch the ground, it was that fun. Friends also struggled for the first time but it was fun from the next turn.
We ended up with dirty clothes and had to change again, so I suggest to go to river before getting ready for the day.
After checking out from the Resort we drove and stopped after Khandala for lunch, it was a nice open restaurant with good staff and promising menu. Menu had special thalis and they also welcomed individual orders. We ordered and ended up with delicious plate of food. Outside of the restaurant there was a beautiful huge banyan tree under which we parked our vehicle and walked inside the restaurant. This would cost approx ₹250 for two.
After having lunch to the fullest of our stomach. We started again, we all knew were approaching towards end of this wonderful trip. People were tired and some slept. Soon we touched Pune and headed towards Airport to drop a friend then we had some time left so we dragged ourselves to MG road and discovered the street shops and market.
We dropped the vehicle with no damage :p and went home with eyes and heart filled with memories to cherish lifetime and hands with boxes of strawberries which we bought in Mahabaleshwar on the way back home.