Mahabaleshwar also known as the Queen of Maharashtra's hill stations, is situated in Western Ghats in Maharashtra state. Mahabaleshwar is at a height of 4500 feet above the sea level. Mahabalwshwar is a green plateau of 150 Sq. Kms. and has many commercial and medicinal trees and plants. Mahabaleshwar is located approximately 280 Kms. from Mumbai and 120 Kms. from Pune city.
Mahabaleshwar also known as the Queen of Maharashtra's Hill Stations, is located in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra State. This hill station is located at a height of 4500 feet above the sea level is the highest hill station in Western India.
Mahabaleshwar is a very popular holiday resort and honeymoon spot in Maharashtra State. Mahabaleshwar is named after Lord Shiva also known as Lord Mahabali.
Mahabaleshwar comprises three villages: Malcolm Peth, Old "Kshetra" Mahabaleshwar and part of the Shindola village. Mahabaleshwar is also the source of the river Krishna which flows across the three states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
The jungle of Mahabaleshwar is very thick, and has a number of medicinal trees and plants. We can see the foxes, jackals and wild boars in the forest of Mahabaleshwar. The Panthers are very rare in the forest of Mahabaleshwar. The bird Bulbul is found every where.
History of Mahabaleshwar
Mahabaleshwar appears in the history from the year 1215 itself. King Singhan of Deodhar first visited Mahabaleshwar in the year 1215. The king built a small temple and a water tank at the source of River Krishna. A Brahmin dynasty took over this area during the year 1350. In the 16th century, the Maratha family of Chandarao More defeated the Brahmin dynasty and took over the Mahabaleshwar area and they have rebuilt the temple. Later on in 17th century, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj took over Mahabaleshwar and renovated the Pratapghad fort in 1656. Later on the Peshwas ruled Mahabaleshwar till 19th century.
Mahabaleshwar was developed as a Health Resort by the British in 1828 AD. Mahabaleshwar was included in the territory of Raja of Satara. Maharaja Pratapsinha of Satara (1818 to 1839) developed a scheme to make Mahabaleshwar as a Health Resort. Mahabaleshwar was a jail for the Chinese and Malay convicts during the years 1834 to 1864. The jail had a capacity of 120. The cultivation of red potatoes, straw berries and weaving of cane and bamboo was introduced by these prisoners.
Main attractions at Mahabaleshwar
There are a number of places to see in Mahabaleshwar. The first one is the Wilson Point which is the highest point at Mahabaleshwar. It is also called as Sunrise Point. There are three platforms here to see the sun rise. The Connaught peak is the second highest point at Mahabaleshwar and we can have a panoramic view of the green carpet. From Elphiston point, we can see the two valleys of Koyna and Savithri. There are a number of other points at Mahabaleshwar from where we can see the beautiful valleys and natural sceneries. We can also see the Chinamans, Lingmala & Dhobi waterfalls at Mahabaleshwar.
Places to visit around Mahabaleshwar
Let us see what are the places of importance around Mahabaleshwar that we can visit during our visit to Mahabaleshwar. There are a number of famous places to see around and in Mahabaleshwar.
Pratapgad Fort: The majestic Pratapgad Fort is at a distance of 25 Kms. from Mahabaleshwar. We can see the tomb of Afzalkhan at the toe of the Fort. Pratapgad Fort is at a height of 900 mtr. above sea level. Pratapgad Fort was built in 1656 by Moropant Trimbak Pingale when Shivaji Maharaj commanded him to dominate the road system of the empire. We can see the statue of Shivaji which is called as Bale Killa and also we can see the temples of Mahadev and Hanuman and a garden at Pratapgad Fort. There is a temple of Bhavani mata also in this fort.
The five holy rivers of Krishna, Venna, Koyna, Savithri and Gayathri are seen here as five springs flowing very closely. We can see them flowing in five stone conduits and joining at a place called as Goumukhi cowface spout. It falls to the cistern below through Goumukhi. We can see a similar conduit at the northern side through which the holy 'Ganga' appears every 12 years.
Similarly at the southern side we can see the holy 'Saraswati' flowing in a conduit when some astrological times come together.
Shiv Shankar Mandir:
We can see the maha linga of lord Shiva in Rudraksha shape and it is believed that it is 'self-bodied'(swayambhoo). It is called Trigunatmaka which means Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh are on it. We can see the marks of the five holy rivers (Panch ganga) on the head of Maha linga and their water levels remain same. Shivaji Maharaj's mother was weighed by gold at this temple and that gold was distributed in charity.
This maha linga is considered as the superior to the twelve jyotirlingas by the Hindus.
Sri Krishnabai Temple
Sri Krishnabai Temple is also an old temple at Mahabaleshwar. We can also see a great view of the Krishna valley from this temple.
The Venna Lake:
The Venna Lake is an important tourist attractions at Mahabaleshwar. This lake was constructed by Appasaheb Majaraj, the Raja of Satara in 1842. A number of trees are there surrounding the Venna lake. We can enjoy a boat ride in the lake or we can also enjoy a horse riding next to the lake. The Venna lake is about 2 Kms. from the S.T bus stand of Mahabaleshwar. The buses or private vehicles will stop at the Venna lake on their way to Mahabaleshwar on request.
Panchgani hill resort:
Panchgani hill resort is about 20 Kms. from Mahabaleshwar. This hill resort was discovered by British people as a summer resort. Panchgani is about 4200 feet above sea level. We can see five hills surrounding Panchgani have a volcanic plateau on top. These plateaus are known as "Table Land" are part of Deccan plateau which were raised by the pressure between earth plates.
A small plane can land on this Table Land. But this place has high seismic activity.
In addition to these places, we have a number of view points at Mahabaleshwar which are discussed below.
This point is also called as Sun rise point. Wilson point is at a height of 4710 feet above sea level. We can see three platforms to see the sun rise from here. But it is advisable to see the sunrise clearly from the platform no.2.
This is the first point in Mahabaleshwar from which we can see two valleys, the Koyna on the left and the Savithri on the right.
This is the queen of all the points at Mahabaleshwar. It is really fantastic to see the deep valley of Savithri on the left and the shallow green valley on the right. If we go by the steps, we can see the Tiger's spring which is the source of river Savithri.
This point is a very beautiful point. We have to pass through the village of Moleshware on the way. We can see a good view of the back waters of Koyna dam on the left, river solshi in front and green slopes of Mahabaleshwar on the right.
There are many more points and water falls at Mahabaleshwar which are worth seeing and are of great tourist attraction.
How To Reach Mahabaleshwar
The distance of Mahabaleshwar from different places in Maharashtra are given below.
Mumbai -- 290 Kms. via Pune and 247 Kms. via Panvel-Pen-Mahad-Poladpur ( 6 hours)
Pune -- 120 Kms. ( 3 hours)
Sangli -- 165 Kms. ( 3.5 hours)
Satara -- 55 Kms. (1.5 hours)
Bangalore -- 785 Kms. (12 hours)
We can take any MSRTC bus or a Private Luxury Buses from Mumbai, Pune, Sangli and Satara to reach Mahabaleshwar. The nearest National Highway is 'NH4' to reach Mahabaleshwar.
If you want to travel to Mahabaleshwar by train, the convenient railway station is the Pune railway station to which we have a number of trains from different parts of India. Satara is the nearest railway station to reach Mahabaleshwar but the frequency of trains to Satara is less.
If you want to reach Mahabaleshwar by Air, the nearest air ports are Pune (120 Kms.) and Mumbai (290 Kms.)
Cheap Hotels and accommodations available at Mahabaleshwar
Very nice and cheap hotel accommodation is available at Mahabaleshwar from five star hotels to the budget hotels and resorts. The best time to visit Mahabaleshwar is in October, Diwali & X'mas holidays & summer. The hotels are open round the year even during the rainy seasons.