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Mahabaleshwar – a strawberry land of India that counts around 85% of the strawberry production in the country. This hill station is a great getaway from Mumbai if you are keen to escape the heat and spend some time with nature.
There are different ways to explore the town, nevertheless, one of the most popular and common is a local taxi. Once your bus arrives in Mahabaleshwar you get surrounded by the taxi drivers offering you lift, cultural program and accommodation. Don’t take the deal in a hurry, the taxi drivers will be following you everywhere if you decide to take a tour with them.
I recommend taking your time to learn more about the town itself and take an informed decision. This post is about exploring the town and several sightseeing points on a bicycle. Below are the answers to some of the popular questions that might cross your mind!
How fit do I need to be to ride a bicycle in Mahabaleshwar?
You don’t require any special skills or preparation as you will be going mostly on the road. I’ve ridden a bicycle a few times in my life in general. You need to have somewhat stamina if you plan to visit Arthur’s seat and Old Mahabaleshwar in one day.
Well, you also need to expect the weather getting hot during the daytime, so you will sweat and might not look too “instagramable” in the pictures. Nevertheless, you will be very close to nature. There are the trees from both sides of the road, so you will be in the shade. After this exercise, you will not feel guilty for drinking numerous strawberry creams during the day :D. Moreover, India doesn’t provide many opportunities for bicycle riders, which makes this experience even more special.
Where to rent a bicycle in Mahabaleshwar?
After exploring the local market back and forth, I’ve found one rental point 3 minutes away from the fountain area of the market. Here are the coordinates: 17.923289, 73.661755. Hamid – the owner of the shop – charges 30 INR/hour (~45 US cents) for a bicycle rent.
What points is it possible to cover in one day?
I recommend going to Arthur’s seat point, Old Mahabaleshwar, Elphinstone and Kate’s point if you can. They are all relatively close to each other. From the second day experience, I wouldn’t recommend going to waterfalls on a bicycle as you will need to leave the bike on the road and walk further almost 1 km by foot to the waterfalls.
Map of the commute and sightseeing points
The approximate itinerary is the following: Starting point (fountain, main market) – Venna lake viewpoint – Toll point (where the cars pay fees, from here one road goes to Elphistone and Arthur’s seat and the other one to Kate’s Point) – Elphistone – Coming back to cross roads – Monkey Point, Castle Rock Point – Six Points – Arthur’s seat – Coming back to the cross roads with Old Mahabaleshwar – Old Mahabaleshwar (2 temples, local market) – Toll point – Kate’s Point – Venna Lake Main entrance view – Coming back to the local market.
After you cross the Venna Lake road, there will be a board with indicators. On your right, there will be a way to Old Mahabaleshwar and on your left to Arthur’s seat, Elphinstone and a few other points. I recommend firstly covering all the viewpoints (as this is the toughest and the longest part) and then going to Old Mahabaleshwar.
All this itinerary is approximately 30 km long. Sometimes you will be cycling, sometimes walking. I’ve started at 10.30 and came back by 18.30 with several breaks for snacks, rest, food.
Alternative: if you feel tired you can cut 5 km on Kate’s Point and Venna Lake Main entrance view. You can come back to the town the same way you started.
I liked the road towards Kate’s Point though. Moreover, there are small strawberry gardens which you can explore (for free) and taste a few local strawberry sweets and dishes (for money).
What is a benefit of the bicycle over the taxi or car?
On the bicycle, you can modify your program and stop at the points which might not be part of the touristy program. You can take as many breaks as you want. In addition to it, a bit of exercise for your leg muscles will not go in vain, moreover, if you have an office job.
Cars have to pay pollution fee at different toll points. The amount varies: Arthur’s seat is 40 INR. On a bicycle, you are not polluting the environment and kind of feel good about it (plus save some toll money for the snacks).
What is the road like for a bicycle ride?
You will be moving mostly on the same road with cars. Overall the roads are smooth and comfortable to ride but sometimes you will face the parts with the stones where you have to ride with the hands on the breaks.
As the roads are hilly, you will be mostly descending on the bicycle and sometimes pulling it up to the hill by walking as it’s difficult to ride.
What about the food & water during the day?
All the viewpoints have some snacks (corn, fruits, nuts, etc). At Arthur’s seat point there is also a small café where you can take pokoras, vadas, tea and other snacks. In the Old Mahabaleshwar, you will get street food options, snacks and proper cafes and restaurants. Plan your itinerary accordingly.
- Ask for a wrench if the bike rental has one extra. Hamid(the owner) gives the bicycles in great condition, however, you never know what might happen on the road. I didn’t have a wrench with me and the wheel of the handle-bar of the bicycle got a bit loose. You will find the instruments at the toll points, some local bike drivers have them as well. Nevertheless, you will sort out everything faster if you have your wrench.
- Beware of monkeys in all the viewpoints like Arthur’s seat, Elphinstone, Six Points, etc. They are trained to identify people with food and water and steal it from them.
- I recommend walking from the Savitri viewpoint to Arthur’s seat. I took the decision to leave the bicycle at the parking lot at the Six Points as the road was quite broken in that part. If you feel you can make it – go on the bicycle. It is around 1 km back and forth by foot, thus walking was not a big deal.
- Except for a few buses, most of the vehicles were supportive of the bicycle initiative and not going crazy driving style near me.
I really enjoyed exploring Mahabaleshwar on a bicycle. What about you? Would you be keen to cycle around this strawberry hill station in Maharashtra?