After the second covid lockdown, travel has been very limited. Pradosh usually goes cycling with his buddies on Saturdays, and we manage the occasional weekend drive together. But with things becoming more relaxed and offices/trains etc opening up, we began to look forward to traveling again. On the Independence Day 2021 weekend, we took baby steps towards regular travel, by spending the weekend at Residency Lake Resort on Mulshi Dam.
With more and more Mumbaikars looking to get away from the daily grind, lots of new pretty resorts have popped up to cater to the weekenders. We usually keep tabs on all the chic resorts opening up, and at any point, we have more than a few options to choose from. But given the lack of normalcy in recent times, we were as clueless about where to go, as everyone else. So when someone recommended this resort to us, we didn’t give it a second thought and booked ourselves a weekend stay there.
Residency Lake Resort is set on the slopes around Mulshi lake. This stretch of the lake shore is not really secluded, as there are holiday bungalows, corporate retreats and other resorts almost continuously along the road. But they aren’t crowded together and hence it is still a beautiful place to be, especially in the monsoons. The Residency Lake Resort has just 8 rooms, all facing the lake (though the resort is not close to the shore, so the view is not uninterrupted).. There are a lot of open places and beautiful wrought iron furniture in the gardens in front of the cottages. The cottages are built as twins – and are very spacious. There is a minibar in each room to cool your beers, and the furnishings – esp the lounge overlooking the lake – are quite classy.
On the flip side, the room did have that moist monsoon smell (regular travellers from Mumbai will know). And we did have a bathroom clogging issue, which the management fixed quickly. But we have to point out that the bathrooms are classy – AND humongous. The shower had transparent glass walls open to the back – for the adventurous 😀 – or natural light lovers. It also had wooden slat screens on those glass walls, for normal folks like us.
What to do
The whole point of a monsoon weekend trip, is to do absolutely NOTHING
The swimming pool is small, commensurate with the number of guests at the resort, and on that particular weekend, we were the only ones using the pool. They do have rules against consuming alcohol in the open, but we snuck in a wine bottle to the pool and no one bothered us. The view from the pool is gorgeous, especially with the green gardens laid out in front of us and the lake in the background, giving it an infinity pool feeling.
But the highlight of the stay was definitely the food. The menu has more than enough options for a 8 room property – but more importantly, is helmed by a terrific chef. Every item we ordered off the menu, or in the breakfast buffet, had perfect balance of flavours and spoke of a very skilled culinary hand. The chicken biryani during the dinner was eye-openingly good. And we weren’t the only people who noticed that. The resort seems to be a regular Sunday lunch destination for Punekars. On that weekend, the Benelli motorcycle club from Pune thundered in with their powerful bikes for lunch there.
If one isnt content to laze around in the pool like us, then they should head on to Tamhini ghat (if you have come from Pune, like we did). The route to Tamhini ghat hugs the shores of the Mulshi dam, with multiple places to alight and touch the waterline. But once inside the ghat section, the true magic of monsoons in Western Ghats are on display. The road snakes between mountain ranges, which seem to be covered by an impossibly green carpet, interspersed by tall gushing waterfalls.
There is no dearth of tourists, as long queues of cars are parked next to each waterfall, usually marked by stalls selling tea, maggi and corn-on-the-cob. The drizzling rains do not dampen any spirits, as most people come here to enjoy being soaked by the invigorating waters of these waterfalls. The road itself is narrow, bad in places, and curves around the hills. The clouds and mist keep drifting onto the road, making the drive feel enchanted. Take our words for it – there are very few things on earth as rejuvenating as a visit to Tamhini Ghat in monsoons.
The descent from Tamhini Ghat led us to the popular white water rafting point of Kolad, where we joined the Mumbai-Goa highway. This was the worst stretch of our trip as the Goa highway has forever been under conversion from 2 lane to 4 lane, and hence anything but smooth. Most of the road was interspersed with huge potholes and not a single smooth stretch of unbroken road for more than a km. It was an agonizing slow ride all the way to Vadkhal, from where, the road improved and then it was a smooth ride through Pen and Karnala to Panvel and then Mumbai.
- The room rent for our stay was ~Rs 9000 per night. I think that is their standard weekend rate. Weekdays are significantly cheaper
- If you are driving from Mumbai, there are 2 routes, almost equidistant
- Take the Pune Expressway all the way to Hinjewadi before turning right and heading towards Mulshi Dam. This is the faster route, as road condition is good for most part
- Take the Goa Highway (Pen, Vadkhal etc) and turn left at Kolad. This is the more scenic route as it crosses Tamhini ghat. However road quality from Vadkhal all the way to Mulshi is pretty bad (monsoons of 2021)
- We took the Pune route while going and the Goa highway on our way back