Lyf&Spice leads a pretty nomadic life, and we shift our base every few years. Currently, as most of you would know, we are currently in Mumbai. Based on our lifestyle and the nomadic choices we make, we decided not to own a car.
We take a moment here to pause and wish you all good health during this time of crisis. We are all in this together and will get over it soon. As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic ends and the lockdown gets lifted, bet you all would want to get back to travelling in a more beautiful, calm and welcoming world! We are waiting to travel soon too. Till then, stay home, and stay safe.
Back to the time before the lockdown owing to the COVID-19 pandemic…
Tripping on beautiful roads – Good company matters!
Road trips are always fun, more so impromptu ones that are cherished forever and hold a special place in your heart, especially if they were with friends. Well, one gloomy morning, before the lockdown, of course, my school friend buzzed out of the blue asking what I was doing on Sunday and the subsequent days. The answer was easy, I was totally free (I had to burn my paid leaves). The only issue was we had zero idea and no clue on what to do. Well, that’s when my partner said, “Hey, I can also take leave; let’s head somewhere on a 2-day trip”.
“Mahabaleshwar”, we both yelled, as it had been on our minds for a long time, particularly, a beautiful resort out there that we wanted to check out for a while. It was time to open my Revv app and start searching for my preferred buggy – pretty seamless, would say, and got the car at the desired time.
At this point, let me help you with the list of essentials:
- Friends – more the merrier
- Alcohol – Old Monk for me and whatever else your friends want. Cheat note – Keep a bottle of wine if you better half prefers that. [Mine is the best – she draws the short straw every time ;)]
- H2O – Lots of it, we had to end up buying
- I am certain the rest you will manage to pack and not go bummer later
- Credit card, I prefer my American Express any day
From Mumbai to Mahabaleshwar:
The drive is approximately 5 hours from our place, and it took us a little over 7 hours to reach our destination as we took as many pit stops as we wanted. Well, we were not trying to create any world records.
Although the resort was a Marriott property, it made me remember Shangri-la aka paradise. The check-in was quite smooth besides the fact they did not have any rooms available in the category we reserved. But, we were lucky – they upgraded us to the Sanctuary Suite (their best). Well, it made up for any driving stress we might have had and our experience was nothing short of WOW!
The resort is obviously a self-sustaining one and you don’t need to step out until you have some urges to fulfil, I have no clue which ones 😉 :). The suite that was allocated to us was as wonderful as the reception agent has told us. It came with a dining room, a sit-out in the midst of the forest (the most used area by us), an outdoor shower along with an outdoor spa set up. Well, at some point I did wish I was alone with my wife, he.. he, courtesy the setting.
One of the features that really stood out in the sit-out was the placement and thought behind the tree;, it had been made without chopping the trees and making space for them (photos will show that). In our two days there, we had food and drinks in all their restaurants, the one which stood out for us was “Woods” located in the midst of the forest. They have a great Spa which we all indulged in. Do keep in mind that even before you check-in, taking an appointment might be better. You can easily walk miles in the resort and keep getting lost; although huge, it’s very well maintained with a lot of selfie-points for the shutter bugs.
Top 5 places to visit in Mahabaleshwar:
There are numerous sites that tell you about the top 10 or 15 places to visit near Mumbai. We did look them up and asked the concierge about them. Ended up going to only 2 places and skipped the rest as it was not the best season to travel to Mahabaleshwar.
I am listing a few places we crossed:
- Wilson Point: It seems you need to go and see the sunrise from this point and that was not even a remote possibility for us keeping in mind our late nights. The views are pretty good but it was extremely hot and not the perfect season for it. There were no tickets to be bought for this place.
- Pratapgarh Fort: This is approximately a 70-minute drive from the resort and it is a must do even if it is hot. Please keep in mind that you must be wearing walking shoes and be ready to climb a decent number of steps. The fort and the views really make you think about the glorious past we guys have. There were no tickets to be bought for this place; you can hire a guide if you feel like.
- Traditional village: Right at the foothill of Pratapgarh fort, this seemed more like a tourist trap and maybe people who have never seen villages can go here. We simply drove on.
- Mapro Gardens: It seems everyone who comes to Mahabaleshwar ends up going here, it was super crowded and it didn’t entice us for a visit, we kept moving.
- Vennalake: We crossed this lake twice during our journey and the thought also did not cross our mind to try and go boating. There a lot many more places in India which are better. If you really want to entice your kids or something, go for it. You also have horse riding out here if you have already stopped. The horses did look quite healthy.
Some failed attempts at capturing the background 😉
We all were quite happy visiting these places and chilling out on our own at the beautiful resort building; our bond of friendship even stronger, Our visit happened in the month of February and might not have been the perfect season to travel to Mahabaleshwar, but who the hell cares – now there’s a memory etched in our brains, and hearts, forever.
In the end, I would steal a quote from A-Team “I love it when a plan comes together” and all parties had a ball.
This is Amit (the usually-silent half of Lyf&Spice) signing off, and wishing your families and you good health during the COVID-19 pandemic!
Drive Safe (when you’re able to). Till then – Stay Home, Stay Safe.
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