My entire Mahabaleshwar experience was about exploring the area in a different way. Despite taxi is the most popular transport to hire (and taxi drivers some people claim the only way to commute), it is quite costly (from my perspective as a person from a developing country). Moreover, taxis have fixed itineraries and if you are planning to modify the program, that will cost extra money.
After cycling in Mahabaleshwar on the first day, I decided to see the state of the public transport in the town. Today I would like to share information about popular places near Mahabaleshwar and how to visit them by bus. Here are a few routes I will cover:
- Travel within Mahabaleshwar by bus
- Mahabaleshwar to Panchgani by bus
- Panchgani by foot – viewpoints and places to visit
- Mapro garden – is it worth visiting? How to reach Mapro garden by bus?
- Mapro garden to Lingmala waterfalls by bus
- Lingmala waterfalls – Mahabaleshwar by bus
Travel within Mahabaleshwar by bus
Despite some taxi drivers will deny the possibility of traveling by bus, there are two state Darshan buses for exploring Mahabaleshwar on a budget. You need to buy tickets inside the bus station terminal, here: 17.925713, 73.656666.
Though it is true, that these buses might not run on daily bases, double check the ticket availability during your visit if you are on a tight budget. The bus covers the main viewpoints and gives you the possibility to explore the town under 200 INR. Read more about the bus around Mahabaleshwar and the bus tour to the Pratapgad fort.
Places near Mahabaleshwar by bus
1. Mahabaleshwar to Panchgani by bus
There are regular buses from Mahabaleshwar bus terminal to Panchgani and Wai. One way bus ticket to Panchgani costs 23 INR and to Wai 39 INR. It takes around 30 minutes to reach Panchgani from Mahabaleshwar.
Mapro garden, Lingmalla waterfalls, and Parsi point are all on the route. I will look into these points in details later on this page.
Even if you prefer to commute by taxi, you can reach Panchgani by bus and take a taxi tour from there. It will save you over 200 INR. Mahabaleshwar to Panchgani taxi fare is 700 INR. In Mahabaleshwar, there are two separate taxi tours (700 and 1000 INR) for Panchgani (*the second tour is for Panchgani – Wai), and you have to combine the parts of both to cover the main points.
In Panchgani, there are also many taxi drivers that surround you once you arrive at the bus station. They offer a tour around Panchgani in 500 INR.
Panchgani by foot – viewpoints and places to visit
There are three main points in Panchgani: Table Land, Sydney Point, Parsi Point. I’ve done them by walking, though if you don’t think you could walk 5 km or so combined, consider hiring a cab. Now a bit more details about places to visit in Panchgani:
Table Land, Panchgani
Table Land is the second largest mountain plateau in Asia. There are two lakes at the Table Land and also two caves. Near the main entrance, there will be a small market with souvenirs. The horse owners will try to convince you it’s not possible to walk by foot through the platform. Plot twist – it’s possible and doesn’t really take long! If you decide to ride a horse, price ranges from 600 to 1300 INR per tour on the tableland only.
From the Table Land, you can descend to two caves. I’ve visited one advised by local people. The cave atmosphere was chilling and they even integrated a small café with similar interiors into the cave. This is the free area to hang out and I found it nice. In the same area, people were selling tickets to the “actual cave” with guru there. They cost just 10 INR, but the sellers created such a suspense.
In fact, there is a 10 meters pathway only with a statue of a guru in blue light. Those people wanted to charge extra money for the camera. This is the second time I’ve almost felt scammed. I think those guys would do much better if they collect donations for the whole cave maintenance, rather than overselling that site.
If you go to the lakes on Table Land, I’ve found a short-cut route back to Panchgani close to them. Here: 17.928663, 73.805865. If you are going to Sydney point afterward, it significantly saves the distance.
Sydney Point, Panchgani
Sydney point is a viewpoint ~2.5 km from the city center of Panchgani. From here you can see the Krishna Valley and hilly surroundings. If you are short on time, I would skip Sydney point if you are planning to visit Table Land and Mahabaleshwar. Firstly, Table Land is higher in altitude, secondly, you see the view of valley and river just from another angle.
Parsi Point, Panchgani
Parsi Point is a picturesque view overlooking river and valley. It got its name from the Parsi community who settled in the area in the past. Nowadays, there are a few cafes, a few snack stalls and a small playing area for kids if you come with a family.
Parsi Point is around 1 km from the main bus stop in Panchgani or a half kilometer from the Parsi Point bus stop.
Overall, you can explore Panchgani within 3 hours.
2. Mapro garden – is it worth visiting? How to reach?
If you ask local people in Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani about places to visit outside these towns, every second will refer you to Mapro garden. What you will find out from the local people: it’s one of the biggest strawberry farms and chocolate farms. Sounds tempting?
Let’s put the content into context. Mapro is a brand that produces juices, chocolates, shakes and other similar products. The garden is not that much of a garden but a branded outlet of the company.
Maybe my expectations were pumped by local people who told it’s a factory where I can see how chocolate is made and how they make strawberry products. I really enjoy such activities thus I’ve included Mapro garden in my itinerary without any thinking.
Maybe because I had certain expectations, I got disappointed by seeing a road restaurant stop and a brand shop there. It’s very well maintained, though just a commercial spot.
Moreover, the food is quite expensive (be ready to spend 200 – 500 INR per person) there: pizza ~600 INR, Sandwich ~216 INR, soups ~100 INR, hot beverages ~100 INR, french fries ~100 INR. Don’t forget to include 5% GST. Nevertheless, you can buy Mapro products cheaper than MRP.
The flower garden was basically a wall with flower pots in the restaurant. You can see from the restaurant terrace the field with strawberries.
In Mapro garden, there is also a small cinema where you can see videos about the strawberry and the chocolate story. These are two movies by Mapro and their products, which are also available on youtube. During my talk with one of the Mapro employees, he mentioned that the chocolate farm has been shifted to Wai (as per 2018).
So is it worth visiting Mapro garden? Yes, if you are willing to shop Mapro products. No, if you expect a visit to a factory to learn about the production process.
Don’t take me wrong: food was nice (I’ve tried one of their soups and sandwich), though the strawberry cream tasted way better at the local farm I’ve tried while cycling around Mahabaleshwar than in Mapro.
How to reach Mapro garden from Parsi Point(Panchgani)?
The bus station is half km walking distance from Parsi Point. Here are the coordinates of the bus stop: 17.922689, 73.787293.
You can also take a bus from the central bus station in Panchgani. Bus from Panchagani to Mapro garden costs 10 INR.
3.Mapro garden to Lingmala waterfalls by bus
Lingmala waterfalls are a worthwhile stop in my opinion. There are three small waterfalls and if you climb the stairs you will see a big one. Here are the coordinates of the Mapro garden stop going towards Lingmala: 17.922847, 73.735143. If you wish, you can take the shared auto from Mapro garden as it can stop exactly near the path going to the waterfall. If you go by bus, you’ll have to walk around 300 meters.
There are two ways to Lingmala from the main road – one through a construction site (17.924642, 73.693431), another through the stairs (17.924942, 73.693002). Guards didn’t allow to go through the construction site, though you can come back through it if you take a bridge route (17.923682, 73.692417) from the waterfall.
After the stairs, there is a small jungle path, a river and a few benches under the roof. Cross the river by the stones and you will get to the waterfall. I found this way with the help of local people living there.
After you cross the river you will see three small waterfalls. From there you will see the indicators and a paved path to big Lingmala waterfall. It’s 500 feet or 152 meters high. You can also see a view of the valley from the waterfall viewpoint. Bus ticket cost from Mapro garden to Lingmala: 10 INR, Shared auto cost: 25 INR.
Lingmala waterfalls – Mahabaleshwar by bus
Here are the coordinates of Lingmala waterfalls bus station: 17.927848, 73.692497. Bus till Mahabaleshwar costs 10 INR and it brings you to the central bus station near the mall road.
On the way, the bus will also stop at the junction leading to Kate’s point (17.936673, 73.685901).
- Bus stations between the bigger towns (e.g. Mahabaleshwar bus terminal, Panchgani bus terminal) are not obvious and clear. Save the coordinates I’ve mentioned in this post for your convenience. You can ask local people in popular points like Mapro garden, though Parsi Point and Lingmala waterfalls didn’t have any people on the station when I took a bus.
- If you want clear views, don’t ignore your morning alarm the way I did. In the afternoon and onwards it gets smoky and cloudy.
- According to the local people, the buses that leave at the exact hours (e.g. 10 a.m., 11 a.m.) stop at all stations. The other buses stop only at the important stops. I don’t know what are the important stops, however, any bus I was taking was stopping at the station I was asking for.
- State buses between the towns normally go every half an hour/one hour depending on the time. According to my observation there are buses leaving from Panchgani every hour (e.g. 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 a.m.) and afternoon there are buses every half an hour. As a rule, you will need to walk from the sightseeing point to the station 0.5 – 1 km. If you’d like to cut walking, consider taking a shared jeep. It costs twice more than a regular bus, though it will stop at any place you need. Beware, a jeep can take as many people as it considers just right. A bus can do this as well, but buses are big and spacious and they weren’t filled completely.
- From my observation, the basic bus fare is 10 INR if you travel 1-2 stations.
What about you? Have you visited any places near Mahabaleshwar? What would be your recommendations?