Mahabaleshwar – once the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British Raj, is now Maharashtra’s most popular hill station, a perfect honeymoon spot and an important pilgrimage destination for the Hindus. This wonderful weekend holiday destination with its alluring and magnanimous natural exquisiteness makes it the most popular hill stations positioned on the Western Ghat ranges. Soaring peaks, breathtaking valleys, lush flora, cool crisp mountain air, are some of the best snapshots that best describes Mahabaleshwar.
A tour of Mahabaleshwar and the bordering countryside will reward the visitors with a blend of old-style charisma, natural exquisiteness and modernity. Mahabaleshwar witnesses a huge influx of tourists almost throughout the year, except during the rainy season, when the hill station virtually shut its door.
Where is Mahabaleshwar?
The fascinating of Mahabaleshwar is in the Indian state of Maharashtra at a distance of about 120 Km from Pune and 285 Km from Mumbai. With an average elevation of 1353 m, Mahabaleshwar is basically a vast plateau bounded by valleys on all sides.
Mahabaleshwar – the largest hill station in the Sahyadri range was established as a hill station in 1828 by the then British governor Sir John ‘Boy’ Malcolm. The tour of Mahabaleshwar, which is a land of picturesque landscapes and bountiful greenery, refreshes the mind and soul. Nearness to two big Indian cities of Mumbai and Pune makes it an ideal weekend holidaying destination to spend a day or two amidst nature’s bounty.
Mahabaleshwar is the source of the Krishna River. 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. An interesting thing to notice is that 4 other rivers, Koyna, Venna (Veni), Savitri, and Gayatri also come out from the cow’s mouth apart from Krishna and they all travel some distance before merging into Krishna.
Mahabaleshwar is very popular for the fruit products, honey, strawberries, jams, chikki and crushes. It is also famed for handcrafted foot wears made up of leather.
The exotic hill resort of Mahabaleswar offers a number of sightseeing spots that makes the tour of Mahabaleshwar an everlasting and refreshing experience. Moreover, the hill town is having appropriate motorable roads in every point. So, tourists can explore this holiday destination by jeep, car and even in horseback.
Here is an account of the some of the most popular Mahabaleshwar sightseeing spots.
The Venna Lake, constructed in 1842 by Shri Appasaheb Maharaj, who was the Raja of Satara in the year 1842 is one of the major tourist attractions of Mahabaleshwar. Boating on the sparkling waters of this artificial lake is indeed a wonderful experience in itself. Horse riding can also be enjoyed surrounding the lake.
Named after Sir Leslie Wilson, the Governor of Bombay from 1923–26, Wilson Point is the highest point in Mahabaleshwar at 1439 m. Wilson Point is popularly called the “Sunrise Point” because it is from here that the spectacular view of Sunrise and Sunset will mesmerize you. Also the spectacular view of the entire Mahabaleshwar from Wilson Point adds to its attraction.
Perched at an altitude of 1400 m above sea level, Connaught Peak is the second highest peak of Mahabaleshwar offering excellent valley views. Situated 7 km from the chief market, this peak offers beautiful sight of Lake Venna and Krishna Valley stealing your breath away with their distant magnificence. Named after the Duke of the Connaught, the peak is also a vantage point for observing the Kamalgadh, Rajgarh and Torana in the north and Ajinkyatara in the south. Tourists can see Panchgani and Pasarani Ghat in the east, while Pratapgad can be seen in the west.
With its unique terrain, the place is quite popular among trekkers and riders too, offering great opportunities for some thrilling adventure.
This stunning waterfall at a distance of 2.5 km from Mahabaleshwar town is a major attraction for tourists. Positioned to the south of Koyana Valley, Chinaman’s fall got its name because of the presence of Chinese cultivated gardens nearby. The calm surroundings and the exotic waterfalls makes it a perfect place for holidaying.
This is another of the stunning Mahabaleshwar waterfalls located about 3 Km from Mahabaleshwar town. Sight of the water cascading down into a deep valley before finally merging with the Koyana River will virtually hypnotize you. The surrounding greenery and the perfect serenity of the place provide a unique solace to mind and soul. The waterfall is a popular picnic spot for locals and a popular sightseeing destination of Mahabaleshwar.
The awesome view of the Lingamala waterfall, cascading down from a height of about 600 feet will make you feel just how miniature we are in comparison to the enormity of nature. Located at a distance of 6 km from Mahabaleshwar town, the waterfall is formed by River Venna and is seen in full glory during rainy season and after it.
The falling water of the falls looks like thin silver streaks. It encircles with rainbow colors. The beauty of the Lingamala Waterfall makes it extremely popular among tourists and the visitors.
The temple of Lord Mahabaleshwar, after which the city derives its name, is an important Hindu pilgrimage destination. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Mahabaleshwar Temple is situated in the Old Kshetra Mahabaleshwar, about 6 Km north from the main city.
The temple was built by the Chanda Rao More dynasty in the 16th century and is a model of the Hemadant architectural style of South India. The temple is encircled by a 5-feet wall, with the sanctum housing the Shiva Linga and is visited by devotees from around the world.
Constructed at the confluence of five rivers, Krishna, Venna, Savitri, Koyna and Gayatri, the Panchganga temple (mandir) of Mahabaleshwar is a major religious destination for devotees. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the temple was constructed by Raja Singha Deo, the ruler of the Yadavs of Devgiri, in the 13th Century. In the 16th and 17th Centuries, Raja Chanda Rao More of Jaoli and the Maratha ruler Shivaji improved upon its structure.
All the five rivers come out of a cow’s mouth which is carved out of stone. Inside the temple two pools are there into which water coming from all the five rivers flows.
At a distance of just 22 Km from the hill station of Mahabaleshwar is the historical Pratapgarh Fort which is now extremely popular among tourists. The fort offers excellent and exhilarating views of the coastal Konkan.
Built by the Maratha king Shivaji Maharaj, Pratapgarh Fort is divided into 2 parts namely the lower fort and upper fort. The upper fort is built across the northern and western crest of the hill measuring about 180sq.metres. The lower fort is built on the southern and the eastern terrace with walls and strong bastions at corners on projecting spurs.
Situated at an altitude of 1080 m above sea level, it is here that the legendary Battle of Pratapgarh was fought between the greatest of Maratha rulers Shivaji and mighty Afzal Khan Commander of the Bijapur Adishahi forces on November 10, 1659. Afzal Khan was overpowered and killed by Shivaji. Now there exists a grave at the place where Afzal Khan was killed. To commemorate the tercentenary of that historic event, an equestrian statue of Shivaji was installed at the top of the Pratapgarh fort in 1959 AD.
Tapola – The Mini Kashmir
At a distance of just 25 Km from the exotic hill station of Mahabaleshwar is the rustic little hamlet of Tapola famously called the mini Kashmir of the west. Tapola is an ideal destination for a back to nature experience. Because of the hilarious view of the dam, the rivers – Koyana and Solshi, the beauty of the hill ranges of Sahyadri and the deep forest, Tapola is aptly called the mini Kashmir of the west.
Jungle treks from Tapola are very popular with trekkers. Tapola is the base camp for one of the most exhilarating treks that one can go for in Maharashtra. Vasota fort and Jaygad fort located within the Koyna wild life sanctuary is completely cut off from civilization and can be reached only in a boat.
Morarji Castle is another popular sightseeing spot of Mahabaleshwar reflecting the spectacle of British Pattern architecture. The castle is positioned on a hilly terrain with commanding views of the surrounding area.
The hill town of Mahabaleshwar is known for its numerous viewpoints each providing a unique perspective of the majestic hill range. There are more than 14 viewpoints which present i panoramic views of the amazing landscapes. These points are within close range of each other and are named after notable Britishers. Apart from the Wilson Point and Connaught Peak, about which an account has already been given earlier, other popular points are: Elphinstone Point, Arthur’s Seat, Galoni Point, Lodwick Point, Babington point and Hunter Point.
How to Reach Mahabaleshwar?
This exotic hill town of Maharashtra does not have its own airport. The nearest airport is in Pune, which is about 120 Km away. If you plan to travel to Mahabaleshwar by air, you can board a flight till Pune, and then easily avail a bus, taxi or a private car from the Pune airport.
Wathar Railway Station at a distance of 62 Km is the nearest railhead of Mahabaleshwar. However, Pune at a distance of 120 Km is the more convenient one. One can also reach Mahabaleshwar via Satara Railway Station which is at a distance of about 47 Km.
Although Pune is a little far compared to both Satara and Wathar railway stations, but Pune is well connected to all other Indian cities. From Pune tourists can travel to Mahabaleshwar by either State Transport Buses or private luxury buses or by hiring a taxi.
Mahabaleshwar is very well connected by road with all the major cities of Maharashtra and adjoining states as well. Maharashtra State Transport (MST) buses ply from Pune, Mumbai, Nasik, Satara, Panchgani and Kolhapur to Mahabaleshwar daily at regular intervals.
Driving down to Mahabaleshwar from the neighbouring cities of Alibagh, Adavali, Pune, Nasik, Panchgani is a good option. Private and shared cabs/taxis can also be hired from Mumbai and Pune.
Where to Stay at Mahabaleshwar?
The exotic hill town of Mahabaleshwar being a popular tourist destination has numerous accommodation options that range from budget hotels to star category hotels. Accounts of only a few of them are given below:
Hotel Citrus Chambers
Right in the heart of Mahabaleshwar, Citrus Chambers, a true vintage English villa with a scenic view overlooking a misty valley and a thick blanket of green forest is located on an impressive century – old heritage land. Citrus Chambers is spread over 5 acres of land that includes 2 acres of forest. With 29 elegantly decorated rooms having all the modern amenities, this popular 3 star hotel apart from commanding a gorgeous serene location is also acclaimed for its old world heritage charm.
For everything you want to know about this hotel, just click HERE or call the hotel reception at: 180030014001 (Toll Free) or 02168 – 260432 / 632.
Cloud Green Resort
Situated at a distance of only 5 Km from Mahabaleshwar town, Cloud Green is one of the best resorts of this exotic hill town and that too at a reasonable rate. Apart from providing all the facilities of comfort, Cloud Green resort offers awesome forest-side view taking you closer to nature.
For reservations and other information, click HERE or call at: 9422600577, 9420633577.
Hotel Savoy Village
With nine cottages, hotel Savoy Village situated within 3-4 minutes walking distance from the market is another very fine staying option in Mahabaleshwar. With large spacious rooms, the hotel is designed to offer maximum comfort to its guests.
For reservations and other information, click HERE or call at: 02168 -260310/261743 or Mobile: +91 (0) 9422403636.
Located opposite Petit Instittue and next to Roman Catholic Chruch, Hotel Panorama offers unmatched tranquil environment, in spite of its proximity to the famous commercial avenue of the town. This hotel offers praiseworthy services and cordial hospitality. This hotel is designed keeping in mind both the business and pleasure travelers. The hotel features 20 neatly maintained rooms, cottages and suites.
For reservations and other information, click HERE or call at: (02168) 260404 / 260604.
Though situated very close to the Mahabaleshwar marketplace, yet inside the hotel Fountain Village prevail tranquility. Apart from extreme use of eco-friendly technologies, the hotel with its well-designed rooms provides the best of luxurious comfort. A fine swimming pool, lawn area and sit outs add to the aesthetics.
For reservations and other information, click HERE or call at: 02168 – 260135 / 260136.
Spread over an area of 5 acres with spectacular views, Saj Resort is one of the most preferred luxurious hotels in Mahabaleshwar. The resort houses 78 fully furnished rooms that are spacious, lavish and comfortable, consisting of all modern amenities. A swimming pool and a children’s park, a state of the art conference room, landscaped gardens and a variety of recreational facilities makes Saj Resort all the more popular among tourists visiting Mahabaleshwar.
For reservations and other information, click HERE or call at: 02168 – 272001 to 272005.
About the Author: Hi! friends, travelling is my passion and my only hobby. High mountains to deep seas, lush green forests to barren deserts, holy places to sites of historical importance, - every beautiful place attracts me the same way. I want everyone to feel the same and so through my writing I intend to take you all to a virtual trip to all those lovely places that I have visited.