Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A tour of Mahabaleshwar

Soaring peaks, breathtaking valleys.  Lush flora.  Cool, crisp mountain air.  This is Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra’s most popular hill station, and once the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British Raj.
Mahabaleshwar means ‘God of Great Power’ in Sanskrit.  Indeed, the place is great and bountiful, rewarding the visitor with a mix of old-world charm, natural beauty and modernity.
A tour of Mahabaleshwar town and the surrounding countryside would take at least a couple of days as there is much to see and experience.  The town bazaar is called Malcolm Peth after the then British Governor of Bombay, Sir John Malcolm.  It lies at the heart of Mahableshwar with its hotels, shops, restaurants, outlying bungalows, government offices, and jostling crowds.
Mahabaleshwar has proper, motorable roads to every point worth visiting. So one could tour the place by car, jeep, or even horseback. There are many buildings and sites that take one back to the days of the Raj. There’s Mount Malcolm, the one-time residence of Governor Malcolm; Moraji Castle, where Mahatma Gandhi lived during 1945; and the Mahabaleshwar Club.
As short drive from town is the beautiful Venna Lake, where one can go boating, fishing, and pony riding. Or indulge oneself at the entertainment center with its numerous food and game stalls. Near the lake, further down the road on the way to neighbouring Panchgani, are the great strawberry fields.
Mahabaleshwar is known for its numerous sightseeing points, each providing a unique perspective of the majestic hill range. En route to Babington Point is Dhom dam, which is a good place to take a break. Or one could visit Old Mahabaleshwar and the famous Panchganga Mandir, which is said to contain the springs of five rivers: Koyna, Venna, Savitri, Gayatri and the sacred Krishna River. There’s also the Mahabaleshwar Mandir, revered for its Swayambhu Lingam
Mahableshwar is a great holiday destination throughout the year, except for the monsoon months.  During the late-June to mid-September period, torrential rains virtually shutdown this hill station, so travel is not advised at this time.
  •   Sights :

Mount Malcolm :
Built in 1829, this was one of the famous buildings of its time.
Holy Cross Church :
The stained glass windows of this old Roman Catholic Church still retain their beauty.
Mahabaleshwar Club :
Built in 1881, the Mahabaleshwar Club offers a peaceful retreat for those wanting to get away from it all.  The Club offers many recreational facilities, including a badminton court and a mini golf course.  Facilities are available to everyone at a very low fee.  For those who prefer the quiet outdoors, there is a jogging track encircling the premises, edged with beautiful rose bushes.  The Club also offers a clear view of Venna Lake below.  Every year, Christmas is celebrated here with much fervour and pomp by the club members.
Pratapgad Fort :
About 24 km. away from Mahabaleshwar lies Pratapgad, the pride of the Maratha Empire.  Built in 1656, it is a maze of ponds, chambers and long dark walkways, some of which lead to trap doors that open to a 100 meter fall!  It was here that Afzal Khan, the mighty general of Bijapur, met his untimely death at the hands of Shivaji.  Since Pratapgad lies slightly off the road to Mahabaleshwar, a visit to this historic monument is recommended in all travel itineraries
Mahabaleshwar has many points offering great views of flat-topped ghats, dense forests and lush green valleys.  Lodwick Point, towering almost 1,240 meters above sea level, is one of the most visited Points and holds a monument in memory of General Lodwick Arthur’s Seat is well liked too for its great view of the Jor Valley.  About a kilometer away lies Tiger’s Spring, and if you venture further down you’ll come to a ledge named The window – a point that’s famous for its mesmerizing view.
There are many locations offering pleasant views of the plains below: Wilson Point, Carnac Point, Helen’s Point, Elphinstone Point, Babington Point, Bombay Point, Falkland Point, and Kate Point are all well known
There are pleasant waterfalls also worth visiting, such as Chinaman’s Falls, Dhobi Falls and Lingmala Falls, the latter being the most impressive, cascading amost 600 ft from a cliff!
Another tourist attraction is the Sangam, or the confluence of the five rivers that flow over the Deccan Plateau.  There are many old temples too, which become the focus of attention during the festive season,

Location :
Mahabaleshwar is situated 1,372 meters above sea level in the Western Ghats, in Satara District of Maharashtra State, in India.
Languages spoken :
Marathi, Hindi and English.
Climate and clothing:
The climate is pleasant throughout the year, but the best time to visit is between October and June.  Temperatures range from 16°C to 20°C in summer and can fall as low as 5°C in winter.   Cottons and light woolens are recommended attire.
Shopping and food :
Mahabaleshwar is famous for its fruit products, Strawberries, honey, Jams, crushes and chikki (a sweet made from jaggery and an assortment of nuts) are a favourite buy-and so is handcrafted leather footwear.
 Also Visit ...

About 19 km, from Mahableshwar lies the hill station of Panchgani.  It is surrounded on all sides by hills (“Panch” = 5, “Gani” = hills) and is very popular with tourist owing to its close proximity to Mahabaleshwar.  Panchgani is known for its resident boarding schools and its strawberry and raspberry farms.  Visitors to Mahabaleshwar almost always come to Panchgani to make the most of their holiday in the hills..
 Getting There

The nearest airport is Pune, 120 km.
Nearest railhead is Wathar, but Pune is considered to be more convenient.
Mumbai-Mahabaleshwar via Mahad, 247 km. State Transport buses ply regularly between Pune-Mahabaleshwar and Mumbai-Mahabaleshwar. 

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