Up in the Western Ghats, Mahabaleshwar – founded in 1828 by British governor Sir John ‘Boy’ Malcolm – was, at one time, the summer capital of the Bombay presidency. However, what was once a pretty hill station oozing old-world charm is today a jungle of mindless urban construction. Swarms of raucous holiday-makers who throw the place into a complete tizzy only make things worse. Mahabaleshwar’s only face-saver is the delightful views it offers, but they’re not half as good in practice, given that you’ll have to combat the riotous tourists while appreciating them.
The hill station virtually shuts down during the monsoons (June to September), when an unbelievable 6m of rain falls.
The action can be found in the main bazaar (Main Rd, also called Dr Sabane Rd) – a 200m strip of holiday tack. The bus stand is at the western end. You have to cough up a ₹20 ‘tourist tax’ on arrival.