While India is a country of endless festivals and celebrations, most of them are rooted deep in our religious beliefs or cultural traditions. While celebrating Holi with colors or dancing to the tune of the drums on Navratri is enjoyed by everyone, our modern lives deserve a celebration more in sync with the current times. Two years ago (2019), I came across an article talking about the annual three-day Strawberry Festival organized by Mapro Foods in Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. The idea was intriguing and without delving more into the details of the festival, I decided to give it a go. That year, the festival was scheduled to be held between April 14th and April 16th.
Mahabaleshwar is the largest hill station in Maharashtra and one of the best picnic spot known for its green flora, fresh strawberry farms, and beautiful waterfalls. When in Mahabaleshwar, it is advisable to visit the attractions including Krishna Temple, Pratapgadh Fort, and Christ Church. Try some refreshing items made out of fresh strawberries like fudges, jellies, whipped cream, shakes, and ice creams. Bagicha Corner, Mapro Garden, Elsie's Dairy & Bakery are some of the famous food outlets offering delicious food items. Make sure you book Pune to Mahabaleshwar cabs so you can stop at famous vada pav stalls and Mapro Garden on the way there.
The Thrill of the Unknown
We live in times when information is readily available at our fingertips. While this can make life simpler in many ways, when it comes to travel, I find that it can kill the surprise element that an unplanned trip can offer. Hence, I make a conscious attempt to not read a lot about the place that I am planning to visit. In this case, I decided to keep myself unaware of the details of the festival and allow it to surprise me.
Mahabaleshwar – Here I Come!
Mahabaleshwar is at a distance of around 260-265 km from Mumbai where I was living at that time. I decided to book a cab via the Expressway and enjoy the journey while waiting in anticipation of what lay ahead. While a solo trip was not what I had thought about but my friends ditched me at the last moment and I decided to go alone. After all, I was going to a festival with hundreds of people there – loneliness was the last thing on my mind. However, just like life has a way of surprising you, my friends do too.
I had scheduled to leave from Mumbai at six in the morning to avoid city traffic and reach my destination before noon. At around 5 am, my doorbell rang and my friends were standing at my door ready to go to the festival. They had taken a Pune to Mumbai cab and ensured that they reached in time to leave with me. Within an hour we were all on our way to the Strawberry Festival of Mahabaleshwar. The party had begun!
The Strawberry Festival and US
We reached Mahabaleshwar and had to go to at least ten hotels before we found a place to stay. This was a sign of things to come. The Festival was hugely popular and had attracted people from around the globe!
A small piece of advice: If you are planning to attend the festival, then make your hotel reservations beforehand.
While I was trying to keep myself away from all knowledge about the festival until it began, one thing I did learn was that people were allowed to pluck strawberries and eat as many as they wanted without paying a single rupee!
As we headed to the Mapro Garden where the festival was being organized, we were amazed to find people from different cultures and countries headed in the same direction. The entire town had turned into a huge carnival with joy and cheer all around. As we entered the venue, we were greeted by some locals dressed in traditional attire introducing us to some food counters and FREE strawberries.
As we went around, we found that Mapro had organized a festival that was a true celebration of the joy that eating a strawberry brings to us. There was a live orchestra taking requests from people, mehendi artists, watercolor tattoos, and unique and tasty delicacies like the Strawberry Bhel, Strawberry sandwich, etc. (paid of course).
Soon, the live orchestra gave way to a Lezim performance by locals – a dance form full of energy and power. Over the next two days, we visited local strawberry farms, learned about the health benefits of the fruit, soaked into the local culture, and bought a lot of strawberry products for home.
While there weren’t any major events, the entire experience was surreal. There is something about people coming together to celebrate life and the gifts bestowed upon us by nature. The Strawberry Festival at Mahabaleshwar is one such celebration. You can easily book an affordable cab from Mumbai to Mahabaleshwar with a local driver and enjoy a thrilling road trip to your destination. If the festival is being organized in 2021, don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of something magical!
This city is 117.3 kms away from Pune and is one of the most famous weekend gateway spots present in Maharashtra. The city is in the Western Ghats and is famous for its strawberries, lakes, rivers and the magnificent view that it gives.
It is a hill station that has some of the most mesmerizing views of the valleys and rivers. Away from the noise and rush of the cities, it is one of the most preferred destinations for anyone looking to get away in a nearby location. One can reach this place by simply hiring a Pune to Mahabaleshwar car rental and enjoy the scenic beauty of this place.
Rada trip is a great way to make yourself calm and enjoy the view. It also gives you to meet new people explore roadside restaurants or dhabas and many more.