Mahabaleshwar! As the name forms a religious and divine image in our mind, it is indeed a place of pilgrimage for Hindus. Besides the temple, it is a large beautiful hill station located at an altitude of 1,372 meters. This place is a vast plateau bound by valleys on all sides. The steep hills and green valleys of Mahabaleshwar are a popular retreat from the chaos and pollution of Mumbai and Pune.
Well known for its strawberries and Chikki, this place enchants many religious tourists. Mahabaleshwar region is the main source of the Krishna river that flows across Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. The Krishna, as well as the Mahabaleshwar temple, attracts people from far and wide.
It is located approximately 120 km from Pune and is well connected by road. You can either hire a cab or drive in your own car. Traveling by road is the most preferred and convenient way for reaching this beautiful destination.
History of Mahabaleshwar
Mahabaleshwar has a significant history. Tracing back the findings of the historians it is said that Mahabaleshwar originated in the early years of 12th CE. It was when the King Singhan of Devgiri visited Old Mahabaleshwar and built a small temple and a water tank at the source of the Krishna River. Since Lord Shiva also known as Lord Mahabali had been enshrined in the temple, the town was named Mahabaleshwar.
However, it was the British who turned this town into a spectacular hill station. Under General Peter Lodwick and Sir John Malcolm, the Governor of Bombay, a sanatorium was built here in 1828. Mahabaleshwar was then considered a British territory and was even named ‘Malcolm Peth’ for some years. Under British rule, the place was developed in a great way. From roads to resorts, everything was built in an organized manner. In the 19th century, an open jail reformatory center was established. Convicts from China and Malaysia were stationed here. They were involved in constructing roads, grinding corn flour, maintaining potato cultivations, and other vegetable gardens in English resorts. At present you will find, the Public Works Department Bungalow at the location of the prison. And with this, Mahabaleshwar was soon titled, the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency.
Places to visit in Mahabaleshwar
The Mahabaleshwar Temple is one of the ancient temples of Maharashtra. It is an ancient shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built by the Chanda Rao More dynasty in the 16th century. The temple has 5 feet tall stone wall around it which is divided into two parts: One is the sanctum sanctorum and the second is the central hall of the temple. There are many belongings of Lord Shiva on the premises of this temple. Popularly known as Mahabali, the temple is flocked by devotees throughout the year. The temple has a very serene and spiritual environment.
Another famous Mahabaleshwar Temple is at Gokarna in Karnataka.
Elephant’s Head point
As the name suggests, Elephant’s head point is a mountain rock that resembles the head of an elephant. It is also known as Needle’s point as the gap between rocks looks like a needle. This place is one of the most picturesque viewpoints in this place, famous for the stunning view it offers. The feeling of being on top, away from chaos, closest to peace is such a mesmerizing thing. The best time to visit it is during the monsoon season as the rock turns lush green which multiplies its beauty and makes a spectacular scene altogether.
It’s a beautiful lake spreading across 7-8 km surrounded by green vegetation from all sides. People can enjoy various activities here including boat riding, horse riding around the lake, rides, and toy trains for children. It is said that initially the lake was built with the aim to cater to the water needs of local people living in this city.
Mapro garden is a garden park loaded with strawberry plantations. The garden comprises a chocolate factory, restaurant, nursery, play area, and retail outlet that sells Mapro products. The place also hosts an annual strawberry festival during the Easter weekend that encourages the cultivation of fruit in the region. The restaurant has various dishes with a common strawberry pinch like strawberry pizza, strawberry bhel, strawberry shake, strawberry crush cream, and many more.
Also called the Sunrise point, standing tall at a height of 4,710 meters. It is a special destination in the city. It offers a spectacular view of sunrise. The rising sun looks amazingly serene. It is the highest point in the city. The point is a vast plateau comprising three watchtowers at different spots which offer stunning panoramic views of the whole city.
The place is known as the Queen of the points as it offers a fascinating view of the dense valleys of Brahma- Arayana and the Savitri river. Arthur’s seat is famous for the floating of light objects. This means if you throw things like a bottle cap into the valley, it floats back due to high air pressure. The story behind its name is a little heart aching. It is named Arthur’s seat after Arthur Mallet whose wife and daughter drowned in the Savitri river. It is said that he used to sit there and stare at the river silently with a numb soul.
The peak is said to be the second-highest peak in the hills, located at the height of 1,400 feet above the mean sea level. Initially, it was named Mount Olympia but was changed to Connaught peak when the Duke of Connaught fell in love with the place. The place is known for its beautiful view of Venna Lake and Krishna Valley. The amazing sunset will lure your heart. Don’t miss that.
Chinaman falls are one of the most significant waterfalls in the state. Your visit to this place is incomplete without witnessing the fascinating flow of the cascading water at this waterfall. It flows from two different streams merging into a single fall. The gardens close to these falls were once looked after by the Chinese, it is named so. The best time to witness its beauty is during the months of monsoon season. That is when this waterfall looks astounding. Rains also nourish the lush green surroundings.
Table Land is a plateau that is situated at a height of 4,550 feet above mean sea level. It is spread over 95 acres having laterite rocks at its base covered with dense foliage of miniature bluebonnet grass. Interestingly, it is famed as Asia’s second-highest mountain plateau. It attracts a large crowd of tourists who can enjoy a jaw-dropping view of deep valleys and majestic valleys. This place is known for its activities like horse riding, trekking, paragliding, merry-go-rounds, arcade games, and mini trains. It is best described as a beautiful marvel of nature.
Velocity Entertainmentz is the largest theme amusement park in Panchgani and this place. Surprisingly, it is the only go-carting track in India on a mountain. They have a plethora of indoor and outdoor sports to suit every age group. That includes dashing cars, gyroscope, go-carting, basketball, air hockey, zorbing, merry-go-round, etc. The place also offers a wide variety of food options including South Indian, Punjabi, Chinese, Italian, and all varieties of fast food. Overall, it is a great place for a day outing.
Shopping in Mahabaleshwar
Shopping here can be quite an experience. The narrow streets here have a lot of shops selling everything from clothes to Kolhapuri footwear and popular leather goods. Almost everyone who visits the market here takes at least one leather product home. A great variety of handicrafts on display will tempt you to stop by to have a look and maybe shop. You will find a variety of berries and their products. Like jams, honey, jellies, and even fresh fruits to buy.
This post has been written by Anshika Garg as part of the IndiTales Internship Program.