At 1,372 meters above sea level, Mahabaleshwar is one of the most spectacular and the largest of Maharashtra's hill-stations. Mahabaleshwar is Sanskrit fro God of Great Power. The first Briton to set foot here was Sir Charles Malet in 1791. Under General Peter Lodwick and Sir John Malcolm, the governor of Bombay, a sanitarium was built in 1828. Mahabaleshwar was then considered a British territory and was named 'Malcolm Peth' for some years. The bazaar is still named so. John Malcolm was completely taken in by the hill-station. Under British rule, roads were built, following which resorts quickly sprang up. Bungalows, churches and the Mahabaleshwar Club was built. A Polo ground and race course were opened. In the 19th century, as soon as the sanitarium was founded, an open jail reformatory center was established. Convicts from China and Malaysia were stationed here. They were involved in constructing roads, grinding cornflour, maintaining potato cultivation's and other vegetable gardens in the English resorts. Now, the Public Works Department bungalow stands on the site of the prison. Mahabaleshwar was the summer capital of the Governor of the old Bombay Presidency. The Britishers built various mansions, Cottages and bunglows around the town, lending it a charming, sophistication.
The place is popular with tourists, especially from Mumbai and Pune, wanting to take a break from the rush of the rat race. The hill-station is very crowded during vacations like Christmas and Diwali and in summers.
Places to See
Unlike Matheran, Mahabaleshwar has long motorable roads to its sights and points. And several taxis stand by to help you on your way. If you're in a more adventurous mood, you could even hire a pony for the bridle paths, instead of a vehicle.
It used to be the most famous building in the olden days. It was built in 1829 with magnificent architectural skills. Unfortunately, it has lost a lot of its old charm now. Catholic Church
A Visit to the old Roman Catholic Holy Cross church is worth a detour. Although the church is practically falling apart, its stained - glass window are still a sight to behold. This deserted church is now looked after by a Hindu family. Mahabaleshwar Club
The club was built in 1881 and is still flourishing and well maintained. Only members of the club can stay here. It is very popular for its well-tended roses and lovely jogging track. Christmas is grandly celebrated by loyal members every year. Fortunately , one facility is open to visitors; who can use the golf-course whenever they feel like.
Also worth a look is this old structure. mahatma Gandhi once lived here in 1945. Pratapgad Fort
This is 24 Kms. away from Mahabaleshwar. The fort was built in 1656 by Moropant Trimak Pingle under the command of the Maratha ruler shivaji. It was here that the mighty general of Bijapur, Afzal Khan was killed by Shivaji. The fort has a great view.
Various points in Mahabaleshwar
There are various points around the edge looking out over the flat-topped ghats, dense forests and lush green valleys below. Almost 1,240 meters above the sea level, Lodwick Point has a great view. There is a monument in memory of the general, erected by his son. Between Lodwick Point and Elphinstone Point lies the Dhobi waterfall. Also on the path to Elphinstone Point is a small scenic spot overlooking the Koyna river valley. Elphinstone Point is named after a former Governor of Mumbai. Lying at 1,348 mts above sea-level is Arthur's Seat, overlooking the beautiful Jor Valley. About a kilometer from this is Tiger's Spring and, following the same path, you will reach a small ledge known as 'The Window' The view from here is simply mesmerizing.
For those looking for a spiritual experience, there are the Krishna and Mahabaleshwar Temples. As well as the point of the five rivers which flow over the Deccan Plateau, namely the Krishna, Koyna, Savitri, Veena and Gayatri. Mahabaleshwar was considered a holy place with a strong historical background for centuries. The name Mahabaleshwar means great ("Maha") Power ("Bali"). The place is still frequented by local devotees. Another interesting temple is a black stone one, a little ahead from the others, with a lovely view.
Kate's Point, along Duchess Road, at 1,290 metres is yet another great point to look over. The Lingmala waterfall, at the top of Venna Valley, six kilometers. from the post office, is the most impressive spot of Mahabaleshwar. The uninterrupted fall descends down, five six hundred feet from the cliff.
A little ahead of the falls, Wilson Point stands at 1,435 meters, the highest point in the hill. South east from this point lies Helen's Point at the Blue Valley, Overlooking the Panchgani and Gaolani Points. Badington Point overlooks the Koyna Valley. Heading south from this point is Chinaman's Waterfall. Falkland Point follows next in the line. Nearby is Carnac Point, named after Sir James Rivett Carnac. Yet another spectacular view is seen ahead at Bombay Point. If you enjoy boating you will find boats for hire on the central Yanna Lake next to the golf Course.
Tucked away in Satara district, just 19 kms east of Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani is also amongst the most frequented hill resorts. The name is derived from the fact that it is located at the the centre of the five hills ("Panch" = five, "Gani" = hills). The place is well known for trekking and other adventure activities. Climb atop "Table Land", a famous flat - mounted top, from where you can have a look at the vast plain below. The berry farms here are another tourist attraction.
It has a pleasant climate throughout the year. In summers , temperature range between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius and in winters it falls even further.
Marathi, Hindi and English
Since the climate is pleasant throughout the year, loose cotton attire is preferable. Although during winters light woolen clothes are advisable.
What to buy
In Mahableshwar honey and strawberry crushes and jams are very famous. The place also has a wide variety of chikki (a famous local sweet).
Where to stay
The MTDC Resort covers 30-40 acres of prime land. The rooms overlook a thick forest. Branches dip below the windows and bridsong wakes you every morning.
How to get there By Air
Nearest airport is Pune, 120 kms. By Rail
Nearest railhead is Wather, but Pune, 120 kms is the convenient rail head. By Road
Mumbai - Mahabaleshwar via Pune is 290 kms.
Panchgani - Mahabaleshwar is 19 kms.
Pune - Mahabaleshwar is 120 kms.