Of Strawberries, Stunning Views and Hidden Trails – Escape to Mahabaleswar and Panchgani

Moving farther from Pune, as we wound our way through the Ghats, the scenery unfolding before us was nothing short of breathtaking. The Sahyadri range sprawled gracefully beneath the azure sky, while a ribbon of bluish river meandered through the lush valley below. It was a scene straight out of a cherished childhood painting. As we drew nearer to the hill town, rows of strawberry vendors lined the roadside, offering luscious Red Strawberries. Over the next two days, Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani enveloped us in their magic, treating us to stunning vistas, the freshest strawberries, captivating tangerine sunsets, and secret trails untrodden by the tourist crowd. Here is everything you need to know to plan that special trip to Mahabaleswar and Panchgani.

Gorgeous views all around Kates point in Mahabaleswar
Gorgeous views all around
Strawberries near Mapro garden
The Strawberries – Tempting right?

How many days are Required for Mahabaleswar and Panchgani

2-3 days are ideal if you are planning for both Mahabaleswar and Panchgani. Both places are hardly 15 kms apart and are like twin hill stations. So it is easier to cover both in one trip. But if you want a relaxing trip with time for sunsets, little adventures or just to soak in the views without hurrying, then I would recommend to keep 3-4 days for this trip.

Ideal time to visit Mahabaleswar and Panchgani

Winter and Monsoon months are considered ideal for visiting the hill towns of Mahabaleswar and Panchgani. Here is a month wise lowdown to make your decision easier. We visited during March 2nd week and loved the weather.

Dec-Feb: Winter season and the best time to see and taste the region’s Strawberries. The weather is cold in the morning and evening and days are pleasant for sightseeing. But it is also the peak tourist season, so expect to see more crowd everywhere. 

March:  Weather is still pleasant and Strawberry season is not over yet.  Mornings are cool and evenings are breezy and daytime is not too hot yet. Light jeans jacket required for mornings and evenings. The best part is, views are clear and sunsets are just epic. Also, this is a shoulder season when you see lesser crowd and get better deals on accommodation.

June-September: Monsoon season when everything is covered in a blanket of Green and wildflowers of different colors start blooming. But sometimes the rain could continue for days and you may get stuck in the hotel room. Better to plan the trip at the onset of Monsoon or towards the end of the season. Ideal for people who love rain, dreamy views and relaxation.

October and November:  Pleasant weather with lush views lingering after the Monsoon season. No Strawberries though. 

Reaching There

The best way to reach Mahabaleswar or Panchgani is by road, either by private car or taxi. The nearest airport is Pune from where it takes approx. 3-3.5 hours by car.

From Mumbai, it takes around 6-7 hours. 

There are buses that ply from Pune and Mumbai to Panchgani/Mahabaleswar .

Getting Around Mahabaleswar and Panchgani

Taxi is the best option to get around in Mahableswar and Panchgani. The taxi union has prices fixed for packages including a set of points and also the number of hours. But you can always customise by choosing and combining the points that interest you. Here is the rate chart we got from our taxi driver in Panchgani to give you an idea of the charges.

Panchgani and Mahabaleswar taxi rate chart
Rate Chart for Sightseeing

Where to Stay

There are many hotels and resorts in both Mahabaleswar and Panchgani. So it is easier to find accommodation suiting your budget needs. But do make your reservations beforehand in peak season. Whether you decide to stay in Mahabaleswar or Panchgani, the other can easily be covered by taxi as both hill towns are closely located to each other.

We stayed in Panchgani at The Canyon Resort and simply fell in love with it’s location, welcoming staff and great barbecue. This is a small sized resort with limited number of rooms, but what makes it unique is the sweeping views of the river and Sahayadri range from every corner of the property.  Even the rooms are designed overlooking the gorgeous vistas. Our room was spacious, spotlessly clean and comfortable with minimal decor. And bathroom albeit a bit small had all required toiletries and hot water supplied by a solar heater. The staff were always helpful and even went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable.

What we loved the most was how beautiful the evenings felt at the property, soaking in the gorgeous sunset views while sipping tea. And then relishing the barbecue under the velvet night sky while looking at the stars and city lights. Their barbecue definitely needs a special mention. I have never have had Pineapples barbecued so perfectly before. And the paneer, oh it totally melted in the mouth. Yes, they have both veg and non veg options available and none of the items disappointed .

View from our room at Panchgani
Room with a view – Our room at The Canyon Resort
View from the canyon resort
And here is the complete view. Look at that reflection!
Sunset view from the resort in Panchgani
Sunset views from the deck. Oh I could look at this forever.

Things To Do in Mahabaleswar and Panchgani

Mapro Garden

A visit to Mapro Garden offers a delightful experience to visitors of all ages. Indeed I remember adding it to my wish list long back for the famed Strawberry Cream and the beautiful photo set ups. Take a stroll in their beautifully maintained garden, shop for fruit products (like jams, fruit chews, sharbat etc.) from their inhouse shop and enjoy some delicious pizza and strawberry with cream at the Cafe. Both the pizza and Strawberry with Cream were delicious, but the Strawberry Margherita was the show stealer for us. The best part is all the products used in food preparation are sourced from their own garden and are organically grown. They also have a huge restaurant that offers beautiful views of the strawberry farms and hills. While the food options are similar to those at the cafe, we personally found the cafe’s offerings to be more flavourful.

Food at Mapro garden in Mahabaleswar
The scrumptious food at Mapro Garden’s Cafe
Photo points in Mapro garden
Here is a Big Strawberry and a Flower with legs 😉

The View Points

There are a number of view points both in Mahabaleswar and Panchgani that offer sweeping views of the Western Ghats. But covering all the points in a short trip is not feasible as these are located quite far from each other. So choose as per your available time and preference. I would highly recommend Kates Point and Arthur’s Seat point in Mahabaleswar as must see ones. In the vicinity of Kates Point, there is also Echo Point and Elephant Head Point (truly resembling the head of an Elephant). If you have additional time, then do check out Lodwick Point and Wilson Point. Wilson Point offers beautiful sunrise views.

In Panchgani, Sydney Point is a great option for both Sunrise and Sunset views. Apart from that, Parsi Point has lovely views of Dhom Dam and the hills. 

Kates point, Mahabaleswar
Kind of views you get at Kates Point
 Elephants Head at Kates Point
Elephants Head at Kates Point

Strawberry Garden Visit and Strawberry Plucking

If you are in Mahabaleswar during the Strawberry Season, then this unique and fun activity is a must experience for all kinds of travelers. Renowned for producing approximately 85% of India’s total strawberries, Mahabaleswar boasts of numerous farms lining its roadsides. Many of these farms welcome visitors to partake in the delightful practice of handpicking farm-fresh strawberries, available for purchase directly from the source at reasonable prices. 

Strawberry garden of Panchgani
Local Strawberry Garden
Luscious Red Strawberries in Mahabaleswar and Panchgani
Luscious Red Strawberries

Venna Lake Boating

Venna Lake may appear touristy and crowded on weekends, specifically during the peak season. But if you go on a weekday or may be Sunday late afternoon, you will be surprised at how gorgeous the Lake is. And not just during sunset, the boat ride feels equally enchanting even before the sunset time. We took a row boat and went on an hour long boat ride at around 4pm. As we glided away from the shore, on one side, we could see the lake shimmering under the dipping sun while the other side reveled a beautiful shade of Blue. The cool breeze and moving sound of ores created a melody enveloping us in a sense of unparalleled peace.

Boat ride at Venna lake, Mahabaleswar
Gliding on the lake in a row boat – An experience not to be missed
Venna lake in the evening
Venna Lake in the evening

Know before you go

A lot of people would approach you at the lake for boat rides. But I suggest you better take the boat tickets from the designated ticket counter. There are 2 types of boat rides available, paddle boats and row boats. Charges are as follows.

Paddle Boat (Max 6 people including kids) – INR 600 per hour

Row Boat – INR 400 for half an hour, INR 800 for 1 hour

Deposit: INR 1000 (Applicable for both. Not taken when you take the row boat with a boatman)

The only thing that seemed odd is that, the guy at the counter said, row boat charges mentioned are applicable when you take it on your own and do not need a boatman. With boatman, the charges are INR 600 for half an hour and INR 1200 for 1 hour. Since they do not hand the receipt to the customer, it was hard to digest this rule. It was not mentioned anywhere in the board and also the row boats were big and the ores are too heavy for people to row on their own. 

The Sunsets

Do not miss the sunsets when you are in Mahabaleswar or Panchgani. Because here in the hills, the sunset exactly resembles the drawing we all used to make in our childhood days.  Many of the view points scattered across both Panchgani and Mahabaleswar offer stunning sunset views. So choose whichever is convenient for you. We personally loved the sunset from our resort as well as the paragliding point. 

Sunset in Panchgani
Sunsets are magical in Panchgani
After sunset effects in Panchgani
After sunset scene, just like a beautiful painting!


When in Mahabaleshwar, do not miss the ancient temples in Old Mahabaleswar area steeped in intriguing tales. Kshetra Mahabaleshwar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, holds immense religious significance in the region. Nearby, the Panchganga Temple at the convergence of five rivers and the Krishnabai Temple overlooking the scenic Krishna valley are worth a visit too. 

Other than the temples in Mahabaleswar, we highly recommend visiting Kashi Vishweshwar and Dholya Ganapati temples in Wai. Both are quite old temples and share the same compound beside Krishna river. During our visit, we had the pleasure of meeting a kind elderly couple from Panchgani who shared fascinating stories, including the legend of the Shrinking Ganesha at Dholya Ganapati temple. You can easily cover both these temples in half an hour on your way back from Mahabaleswar/Panchgani to Pune.

Kashi Vishweshwar Temple (right) and Dholya Ganapati Temple (left) at Wai
Kashi Vishweshwar Temple (right) and Dholya Ganapati Temple (left) at Wai

Pratapgarh Fort

One of the iconic monuments near Mahabaleswar, Pratapgarh Fort provides the perfect mixture of history, adventure and panoramic views. It requires a bit of climbing with 300-400 steps to reach the top. So visit early in the morning or towards sunset time to have the best experience. Dress comfortably and wear sturdy shoes for the climb. The fort is around 12 kms away from Mahabaleswar.


If you are an adventure lover, Paragliding is a great option to try in Panchgani. There are many operators  in Panchgani and the flying happens from different points. So choose after checking the safety standards followed as well as the reviews. We decided to go with Highfly Paragliding and it was an amazing experience. The pilot was skilled and very friendly and made me feel comfortable immediately. As I soared through the skies, the rush of wind against my face combined with the view of the lush valley, majestic mountains, winding river and the setting sun created an unparalleled experience. Those 8-10 mins will forever be etched in my heart, capturing the magic of my very 1st paragliding experience.

Paragliding in Panchgani
Panchgani looked even prettier from above

Cycling Tour/Jeep Safari

For those seeking adventure off the beaten path, I highly recommend exploring Panchgani through a Jeep Safari or cycling tour. These experiences unveil hidden gems known only to locals, offering breath-taking vistas and a deeper connection to the hill town’s natural beauty. We did the tour through Rathore Adventures and opted for both Jeep Safari and the Cycling tour. The owner Mr. Rathore was our guide on both days and his knowledge of the region, interesting stories and affable demeanor made the whole trip even more enjoyable. 

As part of the Jeep Safari, we discovered secluded forests teeming with diverse flora and fauna, ventured into local strawberry fields to learn about farming practices, and stumbled upon an ancient temple tucked away in tranquil settings. The cycling tour, in particular, was exhilarating as we traversed through farmlands, villages, and winding hilly roads, all while being treated to stunning panoramic views. These excursions revealed a side of Panchgani beyond the realms of internet and social media, making them a must-do for nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike.

Cycling tour in Panchgani
The cycling route
View points during the cycle tour in Panchgani
Scenic pit stops on the way
Forest walk in Panchgani
A little walk through the luxuriant forest

Eating Maharashtrian Food

You simply can not leave Maharashtra without trying Maharashtrian food. There are many restaurants in Mahabaleswar that serve authentic local food and so do some of the restaurants on Pune Mahabaleswar highway. We were lucky to have found a local friend who suggested us some staple Maharashtrian dishes and the kitchen staff at our accommodation were kind enough to prepare those for us. We tried Bhakri (Jowar Roti) with Pithal (Gram flour curry) and Thecha (Chutney made of Green Chillies) and the combination was finger-licking good.

What to pack

  • Good Sunscreen, Sunglass, Hat/Cap – The tanning is real. So go prepared.
  • Lightweight jacket with hoodie – We needed this during the evening in March as it got cold and windy after sundown
  • A pair of good shoes – Comes handy for cycling as well as all the walking or climbing involved for the view points or forts
  • Lightweight and comfortable clothing for the day – Jeans, Trousers, T-shirts, cotton or linen Shirts and tops are good for moving around in the day. For cycling, pack a pair of shorts/comfortable pant with a shirt or t-shirt. For Paragliding, it is required to wear full pants with a shirt/t-shirt/top and no frocks or skirts are allowed.
  • Sweater or good jacket with hoodie for peak Winter season
  • Raincoat / Umbrella, sturdy waterproof shoes if you are visiting during monsoon


To be honest, I did not have high expectations for our trip to Mahabaleswar and Panchgani.  Being a fruit lover, I was mainly drawn by the temptation of  Strawberry season. I wanted to pick farm fresh Strawberries, eat the famed Strawberry and Cream and may be visit a few places while we were there. But this beautiful region of Maharashtra took us by surprise. And now I dream of returning again, perhaps in Monsoon when the rains have painted the landscape Green and the wildflowers beacon with their bright colors. 

Have you been to Mahabaleswar yet?  Then let us know what you liked the most about it. And if you have not, then we hope our blog guides you to plan a trip soon.

For more interesting places in India, do refer our other India travel blogs.

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