Mahabaleshwar is probably one of the places that I have visited so many times that I have lost count. But this time, things were different. As such there are two main roads that lead up to Mahabaleshwar, NH-4 and NH-17. This time, we decided to do things differently. We took the NH-4 till the turn towards Bhor and then went along the road to Mahad, finally joining NH-17 after what could be called as one of the most picturesque drives in a long long time.
After a 40 km drive to our favorite McDonald’s, and a quick breakfast, we headed off towards our destination. Mid way we decided to take a detour that goes via Bhor. After some amount of pretty sad roads began our climb on the ghats. The roads went from bad to worse and bordering pathetic at certain points. These ghats were going to last about 60 odd kilometers and we were seriously beginning to doubt our decision. But one bend later, both of us were left aghast by the sight that greeted our eyes.
In the backdrop of mountains, a river wound its way amidst lush green trees, and we were gazing upon this sight from atop a sharp bend which bordered the river. The river followed us for a few more kilometers as we wound up and down the ghat roads. Soon we caught sight of a huge dam. And the same thought reflected in our eyes, dams meant reservoir lakes. The road seemed to tease us as we drove and drove to get to the other side.
The lake was grander than we had expected. Standing on top, we could see the dam and the vast expanse of the lake the stretched under us. The shimmering surface of the lake was sparkling with the light from the noon sun like a thousand diamonds. As we drove on, the lake continued alongside us. Then we came across a bridge which cuts above the lake. Looking at the lake from this angle, we could hardly tell that it was infact a lake and not a river. Every bend, every curve was visible from the gap in the mountains. The sheer grandeur of this majestic water body was more than enough for us. But the trip was far from over.
Eventually, the sun started taking its toll on us and we had to stop for some tea. My friend who was driving said he knew a place which I would totally love. So we went along, me fidgeting with the camera to try and capture ever single sight. Soon, we came along the said tea stall. Nested in the shadow of the roughly cut mountain wall, stood the place on one side of the road. On the other side however was a clear view of the mountains that rose around us and the valley between.
After the tea, we started our descent towards NH-17. It was time to head for what we had came for. Mahabaleshwar awaited us. Once on the plains, with fields and farms whooshing past us, we met NH-17 and then onwards to our destination. The sun was close to setting at this point of time. Mahabaleshwar is a place famous for strawberries and that we just had to buy. After pit stopping at a couple of farms, we finally managed to purchase 2 kilos of strawberries and that too at a pretty cheap rate. At this point of time, we decided it would be best if we headed back home instead of stopping at Mahabaleshwar.
With literally a drive through of Venna lake, the lake at Mahabaleshwar, we headed for our last stop, Panchgani. As such there is nothing to do in Panchgani except for driving to the edge of the table top mountain and enjoy the view from there. But, it had become our habit of sorts to visit this place whenever we came this way, and so we did. With the sun already set, we could hardly seen anything except for the last lingering light of the sun blending gracefully into the night beyond the mountains. It was time to head back home.