Just half an hour's drive from Panchgani is the
famous hill station Mahabaleshwar. Being surrounded
by hills and thick forests makes Mahabaleshwar an
ideal spot to get away from the hue and cry of the
city. Situated at a height of 1372 m, Mahabaleshwar
is one of the most popular and picturesque hill
resorts in Maharashtra. It is virtually a paradise
for tourists. Whereas the summers are cool compared
to the city, there is a nip in the air in the winters.
During the monsoons, most of the hoteliers pull
down their shutters and head for the city. People
ready to brave the torrential rain and enjoy the
thick fog at this time of the year head for Mahableshwar.
In fact, it receives the highest rainfall in Maharashtra.
Barely a handful of hotels remain open for business
at this time. Warm clothes are a must during the
cold winters and monsoons, when even the bedding
can be damp. The Sunset Point is unique to the hill
station. During the day, lovers of water sports
can spend time boating and fishing in the Venna
Lake. The evening finds the lake crowded with tourists
waiting in line for their turn to get a boat. Riding
enthusiasts can go trotting up and down the hills,
hiring a horse for the whole day to visit the scenic
points or just for an hour of pleasure riding. Stalls
having games like nine pins and video games dot
the lakeside. Less than a kilometer away from Venna
lake is the Hindu Gymkhana, where people of all
religions are welcome to play a game of tennis,
billiards or for that matter even carom, for a nominal
fee. Youngsters can have fun skating round the rink
Being surrounded by hills, makes Mahabaleshwar a
perfect location for die-hard trekkers. The hill
station provides archetype trekking routes to forts
like Makarandgad and Pratapgad - the fort where
Shivaji outwitted Afzalkhan. A trip to the Lingmala,
the Dhobi and the Chinamen waterfalls is a must
for people visiting the place for the first time.
Mahabaleshwar has a bazaar where everything from
Mahabaleshwar chappals to jams and jellies are available.
Major attractions of this hill station are the ice
creams and fresh milkshakes made from strawberries
freshly plucked from the farms nearby. Steaming
hot corn patties with the spicy green chutney accompanying
it is a must in the cold Mahabaleshwar climate.
Mahabaleshwar is rich with exotic flora and fauna
making it a popular learning ground for budding
and amateur botanists. In
the 13th century, the Yadav sovereign, King Singhan
built a temple dedicated to Lord Mahadev at the
confluence site of five holy rivers (Panch Ganga)
viz. Koyna, Krishna, Savitri, Gayatri and Veena.
It is from this temple that the place derives its
name ‘Mahabaleshwar'. Majestic mansions in the hill
station bear testimony to the fact that it was a
favourite retreat of the Gora Sahab and his family
(during British Raj), who would often spend some
time here to escape from the sweltering tropical
PLACES OF INTEREST: Venna Lake, Crystal
waterfalls, Pologround and hill points for views.
The bazaar for strawberries, blackberries, jams,
jellies, honey and leather articles. A visit to
Tapola is a must for water sports.
EATING OUT: Most of the hotels in Mahabaleshwar
include morning breakfast, lunch and dinner in their
tariff. However you can take your pick of the many
restaurants in the bazaar.
STAYING OUT: Hotels to suit every budget
and pocket are available in Mahabaleshwar/Panchgani.
The famous ones are Hotel Dreamland and Hotel Rajesh
located in the heart of Mahabaleshwar and Valley
View Resort/Hotel Gautam which are slightly out
of town. The best hotels like Dena, Raceview and
Fredrick offer a fabulous view of the lake Venna.
TRAVEL TIPS: Try visiting Mahabaleshwar
in the off season, mainly during January-March and
June-July to get the best bargains from the hotels.
Refuel your vehicle at Mahad while coming from Mumbai
and at Wai while coming from Pune as petrol pumps
at Mahableshwar/Panchgani go dry with the weekend
rush. Check the water level and car condition before
climbing the ghats. Bargain at the bazaar before
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