Mahabaleshwar does not seem crowded because the plateau is so large. You see the crowds only when you get to the popular places, like the bazaar or the old favourite among walks, the one from Wilson Point to Arthur’s Seat. On our first morning that’s exactly what we thought we would do. By the time we realized our mistake it was too late to change our plans.
It was past mid-morning but the valleys around us still held mist. It has been colder than usual, and I suppose the north-facing wooded slopes retain mist longer than the rest of the place. But it seemed a little excessive. I’ve been here over the decades, and never seen the view so obscured. The walk is through woods, fairly long, so the crowd does get dispersed. This year it was all family groups, like ours, masked properly. So although you are never out of sight of others, you do not feel unsafe. The monkeys have got aggressive in seeking food from walkers over the decade since I was last here, and at one point we were very happy to have the help of another group.
The general effect was very pleasant though. The path winds steeply down a wooded hill to a wonderful view over the surrounding ridges, the place called Arthur’s seat. During the monsoon springs flow and you can see waterfalls; all of them are dry or reduced to trickles now. My 87 year old aunt walked a little way down and sat on a bench overlooking a view, while we walked down the path. There was a little knot of people admiring the reduced flow of Tiger Spring. We walked past. When I am at Arthur’s seat I always look at the view of the snaky trail one can see on the ridge below and wonder how to get on to that walk. And then a decade passes, and I forget all about it.