Would like to see India off the beaten track? Go to Mahabaleshwar! It’s totally unknown town for foreign tourists located in Western Ghats. You will fall in love with it!
Map of the town and surrounding areas was published in a previous post Mahabaleshwar – India off the beaten track, part 1.
About 4 miles north-west from Old Mahabaleshwar there are more view points. We knew Elphinstone, Window and Arthur’ Seat points only from pictures and encouraged to see those places in person. Walking down from Old Mahabaleshwar we had to cross pay point for cars. Guy who was working there said it was for vehicles only and he didn’t want to let us through. He said that 4 miles one way was too far distance to walk and he told us to take taxi. Indian people don’t seem to like walking. Any time they have chance, they choose car, taxi, rickshaw or bus. They can’t understand that someone wants to walk anywhere without being forced to do it. Even poor people prefer to use transport. They choose „collective taxi” which collects people going in the same direction, so they pay less. More than often such kind of taxi is way overloaded, having 3 passengers in front, 4 on the back and 2 more in the boot area. We only wanted to have a walk and distance of 4 miles was nothing for us, especially that we had beautiful mountain views and nice sunny weather. We took our map out and we shown it to the guy on the gate to explain him where we wanted to walk and that we had walking paths on the map. After some time explaining him what we wanted to do and even having his friend on our side we managed to made his mind up to let us go. Until the very last moment he couldn’t understand why we wanted to walk. We were walking on the road surrounded by dense jungle, enjoying a day, sometimes we were distracted by passing cars whith people who wanted to take a picture with foreign tourists. There are not many foreign tourists in that area. During 5 days spent there we didn’t see any tourist away from India. We were like another attraction in that place and sometimes they were too shy to ask for a picture with us, so they were taking pictures like „me and the tree’”or „me and a dustbin” or with anything silly as long we were somewhere in the background. It was nice, but after some time a little bit wearing. Anyway we were like celebrites there. 🙂
After over one hour walk we had to stop to drink some water. Suddenly we heard something loud somewhere deep in the jungle. It was getting louder with every second, so we thought something was coming toward us. Our bodies froze like a stones in opposite to our hearts that were beating like crazy. Charlie spotted hord of wild monkeys runing on us. Our common sense was saying „do not do any rapid moves and search for anything that would help to defend monkey attack!”. Luckily for us they were only curious and wanted to look who was coming rather than jump on us and rip into pieces. So we stood for a while looking at each other, monkeys there in the jungle and us on the path. Monkeys are not aggresive if you don’t annoy them, sometimes they will steal bottle of water, sunglasses or some food of you. We had seen monkeys like that in Gibraltar but it was a little bit different now as we were in a real jungle and those were wild monkeys so hard to predict what they were able to do. We decided to disappear and our adrenaline help us to do it. So after a moment we found the first view point. At the view point our attention was grabbed by the big sign in one of Indian languages with pictures of monkeys, deers, squirels and… tigers. We couldn’t understand a single word, but after monkey meeting in the jungle we thought it could be warning about wild animals from the jungle what scared us even more. Tigers? But we were there on our feet only and if somehow we could survive monkeys, there was no chance to get out alive after meeting with a tiger! There were some young people near us so we asked them to translate the sign for us. Sign was about keeping place clean and using dust bins, nothing related to the pictures. We had nothing to worry about. There are wild cats in India, but far away from the place we were and they live in the very wild jungle where are no humans. We carried on our view point walk, and below some pictures from there:
This is how mountain path’ markings leading to Arthur’ Seat look like. It’s so difficult to be lost. 😉
Mahabaleshwar is famous for its delicious strawberries ( real organic!). On the main street there are many sellers with piramids made out of strawberries. Also many places offer products with strawberries, like shakes or pies etc. 1kg costs 50 rupiees so about 50p only.
Here’s a little summary about Mahabaleshwar:
– it is a hill station located between Mumbai and Goa State in the Western Ghats range;
– it is surrounded by one of the few evergreen forests of India;
– it has an average elevation of 4439 ft (1353 m);
– the highest peak above see level is located at 4721 ft (1439 m) and is known as Wilson Point;
– Mahabaleshwar is the source of the Krishna River that flows across Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh;
– four rivers come out from the cow’s mouth (apart from Krishna) in Temple of Mahadev in Old Mahabaleshwar. They all travel some distance before merging into Krishna. These rivers are the Koyna, Veni, Savitri, and Gayatri;
– town is popular honeymoon spot in India and an important pilgrimage site for Hindus;
– it is not popular foreign tourist destination.
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