Cool mountains, serpentine roads and picturesque beauty. Mahabaleshwar is all that and much more. Located 120 kilometers from the city, Mahabaleshwar is rightfully known as the Mini Kashmir of Maharashtra. It is best to get there by road since the drive is worth experiencing. As you get closer the temperature drops and the aroma of wet ground fills the air. Planning already to visit the city? Here’s our guide to help you do that.
Mahabaleshwar was originally called Malcolmpeth. It was even known as Nahar before that. It has been a favorite hill station of the British and therefore the old colonial structures and churches here. It is also very popular for religious purposes as the rivers Krishna and Koyna originate here.
Places to visit…
Forts – There are several forts around Mahabaleshwar built by Chattrapati Shivaji. Pratapgad, Rajgad, Torna, Purandar and Kamalgad are great trekking points.
Venna Lake- The Venna Lake is the welcome point of Mahabaleshwar. Built in 28 acres this lake is scenic and great for boating activities. If you want to go for riding there are horses too. Specialties of Mahabaleshwar like strawberries, American corn and homemade pot ice creams are sold by individual vendors on cycles. These are must-haves.
Wilson Point – This point has special platforms form where you can see a range of mountains. You can even get a breathtaking view of the villages of Metugutad.
Bombay Point – This point is on the old road that goes toward Mumbai and hence the name. Honeymoon couples often come here. At the time of sunset you can see the Harne-Murud sea coast. Different hues decorate the sky during this time. On the way also check out Echo Point, Karnayak Point, Sasoon Point, Karnach Point and Faucland Point.
Arthur’s Seat – This has been named after a British officer who used to sit here for hours and forget his sorrows.
Kate’s Point – From Venna Lake when you drive towards Panchgani, you will see kate’s Point after Nakinda village. This is named after the daughter of the former Governor of Mumbai John Malcolm.
Panchgani – Just 14 kilometers before Mahabaleshwar is Panchgani, the haven of boarding schools. Named after the union of five rivers, this deep valley is a great place for horse riding or just long walks. There is also a nature trail park called Sherbaug Resort (02168-270070) which is great for kids.
Wai – On the way to Mahabaleshwar is Wai which has historical importance. Nana Phadnavis one of the most prominent Sardars of Maharashtra had his abode here. Films like Swades and Omkara are known to have been shot here. They also have a beautiful Ganpati and Shiva temple called Kashi Vishweshwar here which is considered to be very auspicious. The huge bell here is worth seeing.
Where to stay…
Mahabaleshwar is pretty expensive for lodging and boarding. Very close to the market are Hotel Frederick (02168-260240), Hotel Dave and Hotel Dina (02168-260246) which are beautiful heritage hotels with Victorian architectural elegance. Hotel Rajesh (02168 – 270070), Grand Hotel (02168- 412806), Hotel Panorama (02168-260404, 260604) and Hotel Dreamland (02168-260228) are contemporary with modern amenities. The prices can go up to Rs. 6,000 here for a day. Cheaper options like Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) quarters (022-24042501) are available as well.
What to eat …
Gujarati thalis of Dreamland, Gokul and the Jain food at Panorama are very tasty and wholesome. There is also Mapros Garden on the way from Panchgani to Mahabaleshwar which serves sandwiches, soups and pizzas and is mostly frequented by youngsters. Indulging in American corn and strawberries is a must in Mahabaleshwar.
What to Shop for…
Mahabaleshwar market is the place where you can go souvenir shopping. Don’t forget to take back wonderful goodies like Mapro jelly sweets, Madhusagar honey, jams, strawberries, mulberries, Chikki, chana, syrups, gooseberries, raspberries etc which are available at reasonable prices. There are also beautiful crochet shawls here. This place is also famous for leather goods like shoes and sandals. Imperial stores and Pallod are popular shopping centers here.
Some tips to follow…
- This place tends to get foggy so make sure your vehicle has special fog lights.
- Do not drink and drive or even drive fast as this area is accident prone due to blind turns.
- Make hotel bookings in advance.
- Take a guide to show you around.
- Do not venture alone in the dark as this place has wild animals like foxes, jackals, tigers etc.