One of the magnificent views in Mahabaleshwar
One of the magnificent views in Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar or Lonavala – Which is a better Weekend Getaway destination ?

May – June are the months when most schools have vacations for the young ones while the older ones strive to excel in competitive exams. For me, as a child, it was summer vacations which meant taking a train trip to Lucknow. As I entered hostel, summer vacations were pushed forward as Panchgani – my second home – receives heavy rainfall. Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar are a two places that I’ve seen receive heavy rainfall and that’s the case even today. Back in school, I didn’t enjoy the rain much. However if I’m going to Panchgani now, I wouldn’t mind taking a stroll in the rain.

Captivating Parsi Point in Panchgani
Captivating Parsi Point in Panchgani

Maharashtra has a lot of such hill stations in and around Mumbai, which make up a great weekend getaway spot. I had been to Lonavala some time back (and I didn’t write about it 🙁) and some how didn’t enjoy it much. Anyways, the purpose of this post is to talk about Mahabaleshwar or Lonavala – which is a better getaway option ? Of Pune and Mumbai, I feel Pune is in a better spot as it is strategically close to both Lonavala (60kms) and Mahabaleshwar(120kms). Mumbai on the other hand is closer to Lonavala which is why I feel that the place is always crowded.

Sightseeing spots – Lonavala or Mahabaleshwar

While I visited Lonavala, there weren’t many places that I could think of visiting. Tiger point is the famous one apparently there. There is also a Lion point at a walking distance from the Tiger point. The view from these two points is absolutely breathtaking. Apart from that there are a handful waterfalls in close vicinity. When it comes to Mahabaleshwar, there are a lot of sightseeing points that you can go to. You have the Krishna river origin temple, strawberry farms, elephant point, Venna lake (this lake freezes during winters) and Mapro obviously (never miss out on this when in Mahabaleshwar). Not only this, there’s Panchgani which is like just 20 kms from Mahabaleshwar. And a visit to Panchgani is worth your time. There’s table land, Sydney point and the amazing Harrison’s Foley. So from the points and places to visit, I feel Mahabaleshwar is a better option over Lonavala.

One of the magnificent views in Mahabaleshwar
One of the magnificent views in Mahabaleshwar

Maintenance – Mahabaleshwar is way cleaner than Lonavala

One thing that I particularly noticed during my trip to Lonavala is the cleanliness. Both Tiger Points are Lion Points are surrounded with beer bottles and cigarettes packs. Moreover, I was astonished to see the high consumption of Hookah around these places. I remember being flocked by food stall owners trying to see different flavoured Hookahs. That was a big let down for me. On the other hand, Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani are a lot cleaner. I haven’t come across beer bottles / cigarette packs thrown at public places at least yet (my recent trip was last year when I visited Lonavala) Also, the civic authorities take a lot of care and pride in keeping the Panchgani / Mahabaleshwar stretch clean. Again, Mahabaleshwar is my choice.

Crowd and Litter in Lonavala - Opposite Tiger Point
Crowd and Litter in Lonavala – Opposite Tiger Point

Crowd and Traffic chaos in Lonavala

I know that most of you would be getting an off day only during weekends, but go by my words, don’t visit Lonavala on a weekend. Even if you are don’t leave Lonavala on a weekend. The traffic jams in the town are terrible. We remember being stuck at a railway crossing for over an hour due to the traffic. And I guess this might be the reason why the place isn’t clean. There were scores of people who ditched their cars and decided to walk to places just to avoid the traffic jams. I’m not denying that Mahabaleshwar / Panchgani isn’t crowded. Especially during the summer vacations and school exeats, the traffic is too much. But I haven’t been stuck in traffic jams yet. Being close to Mumbai, Lonavala has a lot of people coming to the hill station during weekends which creates the chaos.

It’s clear from the post that if given an option, I would visit Mahabaleshwar / Panchgani any day over Lonavala. There are a lot more places to visit around Mahabaleshwar and also the place is a lot cleaner. Both Lonaval and Mahabaleshwar offer some of the best view points which cannot be missed. My suggestion would be that if you are planning a visit, I’d suggest to spend only a day in Lonavala while you can spend 2-3 days in Mahabaleshwar to enjoy the surroundings. Let me know your thoughts. I know I might be at the receiving end for talking about Lonavala, but that’s just my opinion based on my one visit to the town. Share your views, and other places to visit or anything you feel I missed. Mention in the comments below or tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj

About Atulmaharaj

A seasoned blogger and a content marketer for close to a decade now. I write about Food, Technology, Lifestyle, Travel, and Finance related posts. Blogging brings me joy and the best part is I get to read and e-meet so many amazing bloggers! PS: I'm also the founder for :) Favorite Quote: "Traveling is like reading a book, one who hasn't traveled, hasn't turned a page.

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  1. It’s nice and informative post sir, haven’t been to either places yet but now I know which one to visit if I wish to travel somewhere.

  2. Oh yes. I agree completely. We love Mahabaleswar and go there pretty often. We’re Mahindra members and their Sherwood Property in Mahabi is beautiful. Mapro is a must-visit place as is the tiny market. However I’d strongly advise against going there around Christmas – it’s a nightmare – we took about 6 hours getting there from Pune as against the regular 3 thanks to the massive jam.

    • Oh Yes ! Mahabaleshwar on weekends and especially during holidays is a traffic nightmare. Having stayed their for 5 years I know what exactly happens there. I’ve been to Sherwood too and rightly agree that the property is pretty amazing. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. I have been to Mahabaleshwar once 15 years ago. While Lonavala due to its proximity to Mumbai, I have been several times. In fact, I just visited it in April this year. Lonavala being within easy reach is a favourite with Mumbaikars, and you don’t need to think twice before hopping in your car for a one day or an overnight picnic. However, Mahabaleshwar being a long journey, you need at least 3-4 days for the whole trip. But I agree there is more to do in Mahabaleshwar and is a much prettier place due to comparatively fewer crowds.

  4. I have recently been to Panchgani and it was a wonderful experience. In the soaring temperature of Mumbai, weather in Mahabaleshwar was a much needed respite. Lonavala is like 2 hours drive from Mumbai (thanks to traffic) but somehow I do not connect to that place much. Probably due to over exploitation of greenery or too much commercialisation.
    Would recommend Mahabaleshwar & Panchgani to all. You jave explained it wonderfully Atul.

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