Winding roads, a cool breeze at all times, vantage points offering breathtaking views of hills and valleys, plenty of strawberries to gorge on and a main street full of shops offering all kinds of curios and snacks. Doesn’t it sound exciting? Well, that’s Mahabaleshwar for you which along with Panchgani makes for a wonderful holiday or even just a weekend getaway.
Located about 120 kilometers southwest of Pune and 285 kilometers from Mumbai, Mahabaleshwar is a vast plateau measuring 150 kilometers, bound by valleys on all sides. It reaches a height of 1,439 meters at its highest peak above sea level, known as Wilson or Sunrise Point. Mahabaleshwar comprises three villages: Malcolm Peth, Old ‘Kshetra’ Mahabaleshwar and part of a village called Shindola. The hill station is the source of the Krishna River that flows across Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The legendary source of the river is a spout from the mouth of a statue of a cow in the ancient temple of Mahadev in Old Mahabaleshwar.
According to a legend, Krishna is Lord Vishnu himself as a result of a curse on the ‘trimurti’ by Savitri. Also, its tributaries Venna and Koyana are said to be Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma themselves. An interesting thing to notice is that four other rivers come out from the cow’s mouth apart from Krishna and they all travel some distance before merging into Krishna. These are the Koyna, Venna, Savitri and Gayatri.
With its name derived from Sanskrit and meaning ‘god of great power’, Mahabaleshwar has lots to explore. Arthur’s Seat is one such interesting point from where you can get a view of Jor Valley. Another exotic location is Lodwick Point, located almost 1,240 meters above sea level. General Lodwick’s memory is preserved here in the form of a monument dedicated to him.
Kate’s Point gives visitors a view of the Dhom and Balakwadi dams. Close to it is the Needle Hole point where there is a natural hole in between its rock formation. Wilson Point, which is the highest point of the hill station, gets its name from Sir Leslie Wilson and is a favourite with tourists for splendid views of sunrise and sunset. The second-highest peak in Mahabaleshwar is Connaught Peak and gets its name from the Duke of Connaught.
Some of the other points that you must visit are Monkey Point, Carnac Point, Falkland Point, Helen’s Point, Elphinstone Point, Mumbai Point, Marjorie Point and Babbington Point. For boating you must head to the Venna Lake. During the monsoon, waterfalls such as Lingmala Falls and Dhobi Falls come alive, adding to the scenic splendour of the place. You can also spend your evenings loitering in the main bazaar and enjoy strawberry-flavoured ice-cream or fresh strawberries with whipped cream.
Mahabaleshwar is situated amidst the heights of the Sahyadris, about 120 km south of Pune. Regular State Transport and private buses ply to Mahabaleshwar. Private taxis also are available in plenty. A drive up to Mahabaleshwar is most pleasant. A popular holiday resort with the Burra Sahibs of the Raj, the thick foliage of the hill station is punctuated with generously sized bungalows of another age. The landscape is however fast changing, with modern architecture, mostly of the non-descript, grotesque variety providing the beloved holiday destination with more than its fair share of controversy.
Mahabaleshwar's famous "points" offer breathtaking views of valleys that are full of evergreen forests and lush undergrowth. Springs and water falls abound in the area offering lovely picnic spots. Many of these points have good motorable roads. The winding rides through thick foliage are an experience. If one really wants to enjoy nature in all its placid glory, it is a must for every visitor to take leisurely walks along these sylvan paths. One can also ride on ponies' backs, savouring nature's virgin viridity. Being mobile is necessary in Mahabaleshwar, if you would like to cover all its sights in a short timespan. If, however, you do not have your own vehicle, hired taxis and mini-buses are easily available.
Situated at a height of 1372 m, Mahabaleshwar is one of the most popular and picturesque hill resorts in Maharashtra. The magnificent hill resort is a paradise of the tourists and famous for weekend gateway specially for the persons having passion for driving across the hills and ghats. Mahableshwar is having the highest rainfall in the Monsoon in Maharashtra.
By Air : The nearest airport is at Pune about 120 kms from Mahabaleshwar.
By Rail : Nearest railroad is Satara, around 55 kms away. Nearest major railway junction is at Pune, 120 kms. There are regular state transport buses plying and even private transport is easily available to go to Mahabaleshwar.
By Road : From Mumbai, it takes about 6 hours by car taking a route via Pune, it is a pleasant drive on the NH 4 upto Surur and then take a diversion towards Wai – Panchagani- Mahableshwar. Wai is at 85 kms from Pune and from Wai one has to travel through the picturesque Pasarani Ghat to go to Mahableshwar. The distance between Wai and Mahabaleshwar is about 35 kms..
Arthur's Seat Point : Arthur's seat point is an exotic and picturesque spot, overlooking the konkan. On the way to Arthur's point are the ancient Temples of Lord Shiva, 'Gau-Mukha' - Connected to a source of water. This is supposed to be the source of the five Deccan rivers - viz, Krishna, Koyna, Veena, Savitri & Gayatri.
Elphinstone Point : The other places of interest here for holiday makers are the Echo Point, Malkam Point, Tiger Spring, Hunter Point, Castle Rock Point, Savitri Point, Elphiston point, Cannought Peak Point,WilsonPoint(Sunrise Point), Bombay Point (Sunset Point)and the Babington Point.
Krishna valley : The krishna valley depicts the beautiful calligraphy of nature and a beautiful location for nature explorers and fun seekers.
Venna Lake : The Venna lake is a great attraction to everybody with its dazzling sight, boating, facilities and stalls for games and eatables.It is within walking distance from Town (mahabaleshwar).
Panchgini : A neighbouring Hill Station-(A famous education center).
Lingmala waterfall : The Lingmala waterfall is an overflow from Venna lake and cascades down in a steep drop.One can easily notice the three steps it makes in its endeavour.
Go Boating in Tapola lake : Enjoy the scenic beauty of the Tapola lake on a long boat ride. This lake in fact is the back water of the Koyana dam. A boat ride through the clean blue waters and along the lush green foliage is very soothing to the eyes and mind.
Tapola Lake as seen from koyna valley, a bird's eyeviewgiving an overview of the backwaters spot of the Koyna Dam - a great picnic spot, (Bird's eyeview of tapola lake). Tapola Lake holding the time still at the backwaters of the koyna dam.
Other places of interest: A small town called Wai on the banks of the river Krishna - famous ancient temple of Lord Ganesh.
Pratapgad Fort : Pratapgad Fort is just 22 kilometers from Mahabaleshwar and stands 1,080 meters above sea level. It has been built on a spur which overlooks the road between the villages of Par and Kinesvar. Out of the 360 forts that bear testimony to the glory of Maharaja Chhatrapati Shivaji, the Pratapgad Fort is the fount from where the history of this legendary Maratha emperor turned into a decisive course after he scored a historic victory against the mighty Afzal Khan, commander of the Bijapur Adilshahi forces on November 10, 1659. Another formidable Fort of Shivaji Maharaja in its serpentine winding charm is a historic monument.This fort holds a commanding view of the konkan below one can easily see raigadh fort in the west and saddle back in the south.An exotic and breathtaking view of the misty mountains of Mahabaleshwar, a place you cannot afford to miss out if you are a genuine holiday maker.
Try Horse Riding : While you can visit the various points in Mahabaleshwar either on foot or by car, another option is to hire a horse and add to the fun. For first-timers this may be a bit of a wobble, but it sure beats getting around in a motored vehicle.
Visit Panchangi, Temples, Venna Lake, Boating in Tapola lake, Watersports.
Have strawberry with cream at lake side stalls. visit strawberry farms. Gocarting.