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. 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. It reaches a height of 1,439 meters at its highest peak above sea level, known as Wilson or Sunrise Point.
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.
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.
Top Attraction in Mahableshwar
Out of the 360 forts that bear testimony to the glory of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s, the Pratapgad Fort holds the most significant place in Maratha rule because it is from here that the history of this legendary emperor took a decisive course after he scored a victory against the mighty Afzal Khan, commander of the Bijapur Adilshahi forces. Also, the fort commands a spectacular view of the surroundings.
If ever you have wished to be surrounded by a bounty of colourful flowers and nothing else for quite a distance, the Kaas Plateau is where you should be. Just 25 kilometers from the bustling city lies this pristine and wonderfully unique ecosystem nestled in the Sahyadri Mountains. The metamorphosis that takes place here during the monsoon season is like witnessing Mother Nature unfolding a miracle for the world to be astounded with.
Known as the ‘Plateau of a Million Flowers’, Kaas has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the reason is quite clear – it is acknowledged as home to endemic life forms that are found nowhere else in the world! But what truly amazes, and presents a breathtakingly colourful picture, is the blossoming of thousands of flowers during the monsoon season when the plateau becomes covered with sheets and drapes of innumerable tiny flowering plants in a riot of yellows, pinks, blues, purples, and so on. The show that starts sometime late in July continues, changing dramatically, throughout August and into September.
Tapola is situated near Mahabaleshwar, off-Poladpur – Mahabaleshwar road and is home to activity oriented camps that offer Wind Surfing in the Tapola Lake alongwith other adventure activities and simple stays. Tapola is visited from Mahabaleshwar as a day visit option for tourists.
Arthur’s Seat is the most popular point in Mahabaleshwar. Although, popularly it is called as Queen of the Points, original name of the point is Madhi Mahaal. Located at around 13 KM from Mahabaleshwar Market, Arthur’s Seat point is at height of 1470m.
From Arthur’s Seat Point, one can see picturesque vista having Kokan on one side and Desh (Deccan) on the other. The stratification of rocks on southern side look like world famous Grand Canyon of Colorado.
A trip to Mahabaleshwar would be incomplete without a visit to Strawberry Farm in the land of Strawberries. Mahabaleshwar is well known for its honey and strawberry farms. You can visit strawberry farms during the period they are grown between December to April. You can explore Strawberry farm on Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani Road or Mahabaleshwar-Tapola Road and buy farm-fresh strawberries.
- Mapro Garden is a very very popular tourist spot in Mahabaleshwar. Mapro premises has Chocolate factory, a small nursery, a restaurant serving delectable food, children’s play area and retail outlet selling mapro products, Strawberry Farm.
Venna lake is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mahabaleshwar. Venna lake is man made lake and not a natural lake. Venna lake was constructed in 1942 by Chhatrapati Shri Appasaheb Maharaj (descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj). Surrounded by lush greenary, Venna lake has area of about 28 acres having periphery around 7-8 KM. The lake was constructed to cater the water needs for Mahabaleshwar City. You can Experience Boating in Venna Lake.
Sunset Point is also popularly known as Mumbai Point or Bombay Point. Sunset Point is Most popular destination and also is crowded. Because it is an ideal place for late afternoon picnic.
Table Land, at 4,550 ft above sea level, is the highest point in Panchgani. This volcanic platue is Asia’s second longest mountain plateau after tibetan platue. It is a vast expanse (around 6 km) of flat laterite rock surrounded by hills. This place offers an aerial view of the entire Panchgani and the valleys located nearby. It is also a popular bollywood shooting spot. Many famous movies like Raja Hindustani, Mela, Taare Jameen Par, Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam are shot at this place.