The geography of Maharashtra shows evidence of a divine hand. Running north to south, throughout its length are the steeply rising Western Ghats. The foothills sometimes approaching the seashore and sometimes withdrawing 40 or 50 kms away seem to be playing an eternal game with the Arabian Sea.
Nestling shyly in these mountains, some at an altitude of 2000 metres, are the hill stations of Maharashtra. These towns offer clean, calm and a thoroughly refreshing alternative to city life. They are probably the only places in India where you can observe the fall of the land all the way to the shimmering sea. Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, and easily the most accessible city in this country, is the perfect gateway to Maharashtra’s hill country, with convenient and comfortable links by road, rail, and air.
Mahabaleshwar Hill Station
Soaring peaks, breathtaking valleys. Lush flora. Cool, crisp mountain air. This is Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra’s most popular hill station, and once the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British Raj.
Mahabaleshwar means ‘God of Great Power’ in Sanskrit. Indeed, the place is great and bountiful, rewarding the visitor with a mix of old-world charm, natural beauty and modernity.
A tour of Mahabaleshwar town and the surrounding countryside would take at least a couple of days as there is much to see and experience. The town bazaar is called Malcolm Peth after the then British Governor of Bombay, Sir John Malcolm. It lies at the heart of Mahableshwar with its hotels, shops, restaurants, outlying bungalows, government offices, and jostling crowds.
Mahabaleshwar has proper, motorable roads to every point worth visiting. So one could tour the place by car, jeep, or even horseback. There are many buildings and sites that take one back to the days of the Raj. There’s Mount Malcolm, the one-time residence of Governor Malcolm; Moraji Castle, where Mahatma Gandhi lived during 1945; and the Mahabaleshwar Club.
As short drive from town is the beautiful Venna Lake, where one can go boating, fishing, and pony riding. Or indulge oneself at the entertainment center with its numerous food and game stalls. Near the lake, further down the road on the way to neighbouring Panchgani, are the great strawberry fields.
Mahabaleshwar is known for its numerous sightseeing points, each providing a unique perspective of the majestic hill range. En route to Babington Point is Dhom dam, which is a good place to take a break. Or one could visit Old Mahabaleshwar and the famous Panchganga Mandir, which is said to contain the springs of five rivers: Koyna, Venna, Savitri, Gayatri and the sacred Krishna River. There’s also the Mahabaleshwar Mandir, revered for its Swayambhu Lingam
Mahableshwar is a great holiday destination throughout the year, except for the monsoon months. During the late-June to mid-September period, torrential rains virtually shutdown this hill station, so travel is not advised at this time.