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.
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.
What To See And Do
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.
The Venna Lake is situated around 2 km from the ST bus stand and is among the most popular tourist places in Mahabaleshwar. The lake is 2.5 km long and is encircled by trees on all sides. Tourists can enjoy activities like fishing and boating at the lake, they can even do a little horse riding. There are a few small eateries and strawberry stalls lined up at the banks of the lake.
There are three waterfalls in Mahabaleshwar; the first one is the Lingmala Falls which is located about 6 km from Mahabaleshwar. Formed by the River Venna, the waterfall plunges down from a height of 500 ft and can be seen in its glory during the rainy season. The second one is the Dhobi Falls which is located around 3 km from Mahabaleshwar, on the trail which connects Petit road with Old Mahabaleshwar road. The water plunges down into a deep valley and finally merges with Koyna River. The waterfall is a popular picnic spot. The last one is the Chinamons Falls. It is located at around 2.5 km from Mahabaleshwar in an exotic place with Chinese cultivated gardens at close proximity.
Tapola is located at a distance of about 27 km south of Mahabaleshwar and very less people know about this place. The small town is situated down the Tapola Ghat in the Koyna valley on the extreme backwaters of the Triveni Sangam of the Koyna, Solshi and the Kandhati River. The place is locally called as Mini Kashmir due to the tranquility and the splendor of the Shivsagar Lake. The Shivsagar dam located here is popular for motor boats. One can enjoy riding motorboats, speed boats and scooter riders on the waters. There are many unidentified forts in the deep forests around the lake too.
Panchgani is a picturesque hill station near Mahabaleshwar and is perfect place for adventure lovers. With a year round pleasant climate, Panchgani provide good opportunities for those who love trekking and hiking on several tracks leading through thinning forests. The hill station got its name from the five hills which surround it. There are also a few more attractions in Panchgani for tourists to enjoy.
Where To Stay
Many Hotels are available in Mahabaleshwar as per the budget.
How To Get Around
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.
Distance from Mumbai: 263 kms
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.