Refreshing and nutritious, strawberries are loved world over. Nature’s very own heart-shaped wonders, these fruits are the ideal choice to reach out to, whether you’re looking for a mid-morning snack or something to garnish your ice cream with. Little compares to the feeling of biting through the bumpy skin of a strawberry to savor its juicy flesh.
In India, 85% of the strawberries cultivated are in Mahabaleshwar. Grown along the lush slopes of the picturesque hills, strawberries are one of the destination’s most popular attraction. It is very rare to find someone who visits Mahabaleshwar and does not return with a carton (or several) of the tasty treat. Nestled in the Sahyadri range, Mahabaleshwar’s mild climate provides the ideal growing conditions for plump and juicy strawberries.
A popular choice among residents of Mumbai and Pune for weekend getaways, Mahabaleshwar was established as a holiday destination during the British rule. It was during that period when strawberry runners were brought in from Australia and planted in the hill station. The rich red soil found here infused the fruits with the unique taste they are sought after for. Today, strawberries from Mahabaleshwar are exported to a number of countries across the globe.
While cultivation begins in December, the best time to visit this strawberry haven is from March to April, when springtime unfolds. As the cold winds of winter give way to a pleasant breeze, Mahabaleshwar’s strawberry bounty attracts visitors from all over. One can find many a vendor hawking the fruit along the streets of the quaint town, along with larger shops dedicated to strawberries and related products.
The best way to savor strawberries here is right at the roots, literally. The many strawberry farms dotting the landscape give visitors a chance to see first-hand how their favorite fruit is cultivated. They can walk along rows of strawberry crops and watch as the delectable fruits are plucked and processed into a variety of items.
For an even more special experience, one must visit Mahabaleshwar during Easter weekend, when the famous strawberry festival is conducted. It was conceptualized by Mapro Fruits when the strawberry harvest far exceeded requirements and is a slice of heaven on earth for those who love the fruit. More than 250 farmers from across the destination take part in the festival, offering different variations of the juicy pink nugget, like the Inter down, KamaRoza and Sweet Charlie.
Four days long, the strawberry festival gives tourists a chance to indulge in some creative culinary creations, centered around the fruit. Dishes served include strawberry bhel, strawberry pizza and strawberry sandwich, among others. Visitors can also choose to go on strawberry-picking walks, or gorge on the fresh fruit, completely free of cost! Also available is entertainment in the form of traditional Dhol and Lezim performances by folk dancers from Pratapgad.
So, come springtime, pack your bags and head over to Mahabaleshwar for a strawberry-filled jaunt at Evershine Keys Prima Resort. Don’t forget to get a carton back home!