The picturesque hill station of Mahabaleshwar, located at a height of 4439 ft., is a haven for nature lovers and my favourite destination for a weekend getaway in Maharashtra. A visit to any part of Maharashtra is incomplete without a trip to the spectacular locales of Mahabaleshwar. The views from the various points in Mahabaleshwar like Kates Point, Wilson Point etc never fail to impress specially during monsoons when the clouds roll in, engulf you and give you a feeling of ’walking on clouds’. Hundreds of Bollywood films have been filmed in there stunning hills. Weekends tend to get quite crowded here with thousands of tourists driving down from all over specially Pune and Mumbai.
If you are looking for a destination brimming with must-see sights, few places compare with Mahabaleshwar. This lovely hill station in the Western Ghats is renowned for its strawberry fields and delicious red strawberries, which grow in abundance during the winter months. Go on an excursion in the hills or enjoy an exciting day at the market place. One can also indulge in horse riding and boating at the Venna Lake or have a fun filled day at the amusement parks. The scenic valleys with cascading waterfalls, misty trails is a treat for all.
The lovely hill-town of Mahabaleshwar is dotted with hotels all over and has narrow motorable lanes leading from all corners to the centrally located marketplace which is the hub of all activity. The market is a long single lane lined with shops on both sides. It is a shopper’s paradise with numerous shops selling woolens, footwear, handicrafts and knickknacks. Shop for some fresh locally produced strawberry, mulberry, raspberry jam and honey. There are many eating joints that serve multiple cuisines from Indian to Italian and Chinese. A must eat is the astronomical delight ‘’Strawberry with cream’’ – a favourite food for the soul.
Places To Visit in Mahabaleshwar:
Beautiful valley viewing points are strategically located at ridges all around Mahabaleshwar providing spectacular views of the valleys, sunrise and sunset. A few of the must visit points are:
Arthurs Seat: Arthurs seat is a famous view point located at an altitude of 4000 ft. It is named after the British officer, Sir Arthur Malet who is said to have sat here for hours gazing at the river Savitri where he lost his wife and children in a tragic boat accident. From the parking area on the road, one has to walk down around 200 ft. to the view point which could be a little exhausting. Do stop to take breaks and enjoy the scenic view around. Though there are steps and pathways to walk down, I would not recommend it to the elderly. It could get tricky walking in the slippery and muddy terrain during monsoons. The viewing platform on a rocky cliff offers spectacular views of the surrounding Western Ghats and deep valleys. It gets very crowded during weekends in summer and monsoon. There are many hawkers selling corn, tea and snacks. En-route, one can also visit Tiger Spring (take a drink of the water), Window point and Dinosaur points.
Connaught Peak: Connaught peak being the 2nd highest peak in Mahabaleshwar offers excellent views of the valley.
Kates Point: This popular point is located towards the east of Mahabaleshwar. The view point offers a spectacular view of the deep blue waters of 2 reservoirs – Dhom and Balakwadi. En-route you can also visit the Needle hole point is which gets its name from a natural rock formation with a hole.
Wilson Point (Sunrise Point): Located at 4500 ft. this point offers great views of the valley. Visit early morning to see spectacular sunrises.
Elphinstone Point: This point located 12 kms from Mahabaleshwar. One can see an elephants head shaped out from a hanging rock on the side of the mountain.
Mumbai Point (Sunset Point): Gets very crowded during evenings, specially on weekends, when tourists come here to view the spectacular sunset. There are a few small gaming shops and horse-camel rides.
Venna Lake: Is a beautiful lake surrounded by green forests at a distance of 1 kilometer from the market. Enjoy boating and horse riding. For paddle boats, along with the fee, a refundable deposit of Rs. 200 is collected. Do not forget to collect your deposit back once you are done with your boating. Hawkers sell roasted corn, farm fresh baby carrots and strawberries along the roadside.
Pratapgad Fort: A majestic fort, Pratapgad at a height of 1080 meters was built by Shivaji in 1656. It is located at a distance of 24 kms from Mahabaleshwar and 15 kms from Poladpur. The fort offers awesome views of the surrounding hills, valleys and villages. Pratapgad fort is an important part of history as Shivaji Maharaj fought against and killed his enemy, the Mughal warrior, Afzal Khan in 1659. He built the grave of Afzal Khan here. At the very top, there is a small garden with a huge statue of the Shivaji Maharaj and a temple of Bhavani Mata, clan deity of the Maratha’s. Vehicles can drive up to the parking level from where there are 350 steps in all leading up to top of the fort. A good time to visit would be afternoons between 2-5 pm. One can witness a spectacular sunset from the fort. The local Panchganga Temple is considered the source of five important rivers of the region.
Lingamala Falls: The falls can be reached from the Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar road. Monsoon is a good time to visit when the cascading water offers a great view.
Mapro Garden: Located on the Mahabaleshwar – Panchgani road, Mapro garden is very famous for its jams and crushes produced in the factory in its premises. Counters sell the local produce such as Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry jams, crushes, candies etc. There is an extremely popular snack counter at the lower levels that serve delicious sandwiches, pizzas, shakes, mocktails and mouth watering desserts. The seating overlooks a pond and beautiful landscaped gardens. An absolute must visit in Mahabaleshwar.
Panchgani: Mahabaleshwar’s twin hill station, Panchgani is located 19 kms away and offers some stunning scenes. You can visit Panchgani while traveling to or returning from Mahabaleshwar. Alternately one can go to Panchgani for a lovely day trip. Panchgani gets its name from the five hills forming it. It is renowned for its numerous boarding schools and Table Top plateau. Panchgani has a bustling market on the main road with main shops selling local produce. Try the delicacies at the local bakeries in the market area, some of which have been functional since the pre-independence days. Also indulge in some fresh berry picking in the farms around.
Panchganga Temple: Source and Confluence of water from 5 rivers Krishna, Savitri, Gayatri, Koyna and Venna.
- Winter (December to February): 16- 32 degree Celsius. Light woolens for daytime and heavier woolens for evenings.
- Summer (March to May): 23 -37 degree Celsius. Light summer clothing recommended.
- Monsoon (June to September): 20 – 27 degree Celsius. Rain-wear and Woolens recommended. It rains very heavily so do not forget to carry your rain-wear, umbrellas and a change of clothing when going to the viewpoints.
Driving Route to Mahabaleshwar:
From Pune: Mahabaleshwar is located 120 kms from Pune and take 3 hours.
Take the Pune-Bangalore Expressway (NH4). Just before reaching Surur, at the intersection, drive into the service road and turn right from under the flyover into Surur-Wai road. Reach Wai and take the Wai-Panchgani Road to Panchgani and 20 kms further to Mahabaleshwar.
If you miss the Surur-wai intersection, no fret – just drive further to Satara and turn into the Satara – Mahabaleshwar road (SH58). Mahabaleshwar is 54 kms. From Satara and takes about an hour and a half to reach.
From Mumbai: Mahabaleshwar is located 250 kms from Mumbai and takes 6 hours. Take the Mumbai-Pune-Bangalore Expressway. By-Pass Pune and continue on the highway till the intersection before Surur. Drive into the service road and turn right from under the flyover into Surur-Wai road. Reach Wai and take the Wai-Panchgani Road to Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar.
If you miss the Surur-wai intersection, just drive further to Satara and turn into the Satara – Mahabaleshwar road (SH58). Mahabaleshwar is 54 kms. From Satara and takes about an hour and a half to reach.
From Satara: Distance 54 kms, Time 1 Hour 30 minutes.
From Panchgani: Distance 20 kms, Time 30 minutes.
Nearest Airport is at Pune (120kms)
Nearest Major Railway stations: Satara (54 kms), Pune (120kms), Sangli (165 kms), Miraj (170 kms)
Amazing Video of Snowfall in Manali in February 2018 :
Watch video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Leul56XJWOM
Watch video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/vVvzz5YZkHU
Watch video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/fSyHtXOVOs4