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.
Things to Do
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 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.
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.
How to reach:
The nearest airport is at Pune about 120 kms from Mahabaleshwar.
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.
From Mumbai, it takes about 4 to 5 hours by car taking a route via Panvel through Mahad and Poladpur. There are frequent ST buses from Dadar and Mumbai CST. From 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.
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