Posted by: getaway2india | July 26, 2011

Mahabaleshwar – Strawberry Country

 

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar is the largest hill station in the Sahyadri range of Maharashtra state. It is situated at an altitude of 1372 m above seal level in the Satara district, about 115 km southwest of Pune. After Matheran and Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar is the 3rd most popular weekend get away for Mumbaites.

Map

Due to its high altitude, the town has a cool climate and offers many pleasant walks. There are several lookout points which offer spectacular views of the surrounding hills and valleys. There is an old Shiva temple in the forest, which is the source of five rivers, including the Krishna river which is the second longest river of peninsular India.

Mahabaleshwar is visited by many thousands of tourists every year. It is well connected by bus with the important towns of the region. There are numerous hotels for every budget.

One can see Strawberries literally everywhere, all along the way, shops, restaurants, farms,and even smell.

Peak season is March-May;

Off Season: it rains very heavily from June to September. This is a season when one gets great discounts ;-).

It takes on a different charm in the Monsoon as you can see in the video below:

Mahabaleshwar in Rains

If you deccide to travel during the Monsoon I would recommend to buy yourself some nice waterproof boots.

Gumboots

The hill station virtually shuts up shop during the monsoon, when an unbelievable 6m of rain falls. Buildings are clad with kulum grass to stave off damage from the torrential downpours. After things calm down, the reward is abundantly green landscapes.

Mahabaleshwar has a moderate climate all through the year.

  • Summers (March to June) are pleasant and temperature varies between a minimum of 18°C to a maximum of 29°C. It is very pleasant and ideal for sight seeing.
  • Monsoons (June to September) offer average annual rainfall. The place looks beautiful in rains.
  • Winters (December to February) are cool and the temperature varies minimum 5°C to maximum 24°C. It is nice for wandering around the city and also for sight seeing.

One can visit Mahabaleshwar all through the year, but better to keep off heavy monsoon days.

Strawberry Farm

Among the local delicacies, strawberry shakes and corn patties are well known. Ingredients for these are all grown locally.

 

Mahableshwar

 

History

We find the first mention of Mahabaleshwar in 1215 when King Singhan of Deogiri visited Old Mahabaleshwar and built a small temple and water tank at the source of the Krishna River.
In the early 14th century, Mahabaleshwar was ruled by the Moguls, but in the later half of the century, a Brahmin dynasty took over.

In the 15th Century, the Muslim Kings of Bijapur and Ahmednagar captured Mahabaleshwar.
In the middle of the 16th century, the Maratha family of Chandarao More, became rulers of Jaoli and Mahabaleshwar during whose period the Old Mahabaleshwar temple was rebuilt.

In the 17th century, Chatrapati Shivaji captured Mahabaleshwar. After him, the Peshwas ruled till 1819.And after that, Mahabaleshwar became part of the Kingdom of Satara. Colonel Lodwick, who later became a General, did a lot for the development of Mahabaleshwar.

Getting In:

Mahabaleshwar Route

By Road

You can take a tourist bus (Volvo) from Mumbai, departing from Dadar East, Sion or Vashi. The ride will take you 6 hours and will cost around Rs 350(2009 rate).

An ordinary AC bus will cost Rs 200. The Volvo/Mercedes bus from Pune is currently operated by two private companies (Neeta Company and Konduskar Company), and they charge approx Rs 400 each way (year 2011).

The Govt. Express bus from swargate starting 5.45AM and every hour with a moderate price of 110/- per individual.

Mahabaleshwar is also accessible by road from Mumbai, about 247 km. It takes about 4 to 5 hours by car if taking a route via Panvel through Mahad and Poladpur.

  

                                        Roads to Mahableshwar

Neeta - the Best Bus Fleet Operators in India

 

Via Mumbai -Pune expressway 

The distance via this route is about 40 kms more but you reach much faster. You have to get off this highway at a place called Sirur and then travel via Wai and Panchgani to Mahabaleshwar. The road is easier to drive on.

By Train

You can also reach Satara by train from Mumbai/Bangalore. Mahabaleshwar is 47 km from Satara and takes little more than one hour from there.

Check-In Time

Try to arrive here in the morning because most of the hotels have a check-in time of 9AM. If you arrive later you may have to wait until another room becomes vacant.

Mahablashwar Road Tax - There is a similar one for Panchgani

 

Places to see in Mahabaleshwar

You can travel between various “Points” by using:

  • Taxis, auto rickshaws and buses leave from the center of town near Irani’s petrol pump opposite the Club.

Horse-Riding-Venna-Lake

  • Horses also are available in town and there are lovely shaded bridle paths for delightful rides.
  • The best way to get around is by bus which is provided by Govt. You can book ticket prior only. Cost is around 60/- to 70/- per individual. Govt. Bus has two tour one is Pratapgad darshan in morning 9.15AM and Mahabaleshwar darshan in noon 2.15PM. They are best.

The Bazaar is in the center of town and consists of a pedestrian-only street with shops selling everything from fancy locally-made walking sticks to snacks and the specialty of the region – roasted chickpea nuts.

At the far end of the bazaar stands a Mahabaleshwar institution, Imperial Stores, owned and run by generations of the Irani family. Here you can get anything from videos to provisions to ice cream to beer.

To See

Although there are close to 25 ‘Points’ in Mahabaleshwar, lots of these points would give you the same view (of mountains/valley) from a slightly different angle. Of those the following are a must:

Arthurs Seat Point

  • Arthur’s Seat

This point got its name from Arthur Mallet, who is believed to be the first man to reach this hill station, where he built a home for himself, way back in the early 1800s. The rock formations on its southern side are often compared to those found in the Grand Canyon of Colorado. It’s the only point from where you can clearly see the dramatic geographical differences between the Konkan and the Deccan.

  • Babington Point

Wilsons Point

  • Wilson Point

Kates Point

  • Kate’s Point
  • Bombay Point (Sunset Point)


  • Bombay Point (Sunset Point)

Elephant Head Point

  • Elephant’s head Point

Lingmala falls

  • Lingamala Falls (best viewed from behind Surya Resort) Pratapgad Fort

Mapro Farm

Falero Car

The Mapro Farm which manufactures and sells a wide range of strawberry and fruit products – squashes, lemonades, fruit juices, etc. is worth a visit.

Falero Restaurant Traiff Board - Price are mostly in 3 digits 😦 ...but still its crowded...

 

 

Shiva Temple

The old Shiva Temple in old Mahabaleshwar is the source of 5 rivers – Krishna River (the second longest river of peninsular India) and 4 other rivers (Koyana, Venna (Veni), Savitri, and Gayatri) all of which flow out from the cow (bull’s) mouth throughout the year.The four rivers travel some distance before merging with the Krishna.

Mahabaleshwar Temple

This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a Shiva Linga called Lord Mahabali.
Mahabaleshwar has been named after this deity of this temple.

Water Falls and Lakes

There are three major waterfalls:

  • Lingmala waterfall (6 kms),
  • Dhobi waterfall (3 kms) and
  • Chinaman’s waterfall (2.5 kms).

Venna Lake is 2.5 km long and has boating facilities.

Places to see around Mahabaleshwar

You can visit Panchgani (19 kms), Pratapgarh Fort (24 kms), Tapola  (25 kms), and Satara.

Panchgani (8 Kms) Panchgani derives its name from the five hills around it. The five hills surrounding Panchgani are topped by a volcanic plateau, which is the second highest in Asia after the Tibetan plateau. These plateaus, alternatively known as “table land”, are a part of the Deccan Plateau and they were raised by pressure between the earth plates. The area has high seismic activity, with an epicenter near Koynānagar where the Koynanagar Dam and a hydroelectric power plant have been built.

View from Sydney Point, Panchgani

Sydney Point: This point is situated on a hillock facing the Krishna Valley. One can see from here the glittering waters of the Dhom Dam, and Pāndavgad and Mandhārdeo. Sydney point is about 2 Km from Panchgani Bus stand.

View of the Panchgani Table land from Sydney Point

Table Land: This flat large expanse of laterite rock is the second longest mountain plateau in Asia. Some spacious caves including the “Devil’s Kitchen” are visible from here.

Parsi Point: This scenic point is situated on the way to Mahabaleshwar, and overlooks the Krishna valley and the blue shiny waters of the Dhom Dam.

Devil’s Kitchen: Situated at the south of the table land, the Devil’s Kitchen (Bhim Chula – Bhim was know to eat a lot) has a mythology associated with it: It is believed that the Pāndavas of the Mahābhārat epic had stayed here for a while. Pāndavgad Caves (near Wāi) are also said to be built by them then.

Mapro Garden: Situated on the curvaceous roads between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar, it is easily accessible by buses originating both from Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. A haven for tourists hungry for strawberry delicacies as well as factory fresh items like jams, syrups squashes and confectionery items by Mapro Foods Pvt Ltd.

Pandavgad Fort

Pandavgad caves (near Wai) are situated on a small south-east projection of Pandavgad fort. The fort commands an excellent view of the surrounding area. To the east one gets a bird s eye view of Wai. The small spur with the caves is found at about a distance of 300 yards. The angle it makes with the main spur should be made for and about 200 feet up are the caves. The first is a flat roofed chapel or chaitya about twenty-one feet by seven and about twelve to fourteen feet high. An arched entrance blocked up with mud and stones lead to a relic shrine or daghoba four and half feet in diameter and six feet high.

Pandavgad Cave

Close by is another cave seven feet square, also flat-roofed with an arched entrance and containing a mutilated stone instead of the daghoba which is three feet in diameter at the base and scarcely a foot at the top. East of Cave II is an eight-celled dwelling cave about thirty-five feet square and five feet high. The floor has been much silted up with earth brought in by rain water. The original height, as seen from the outside, was probably eight feet. The roof is flat and the rock overhangs four feet making a verandah with an entrance in its back wall about eight feet wide. The cells are two each on the east and west and four on the north, and there is a bed shelf all round.

Things to do:

There are many things to do in Mahableshwar. In your leisure time you can roam about the bazaar and do lots of shopping. You can also try your luck at the poker machines.

Venna Lake Boat Club

  • Boating – Lake Venna. Visit lake Venna for a ride on paddle/ or rowing boat. You may ride boat on your own or, alternatively, you can hire one. Beautiful and scenic lake.

Venna Lake Boating

  • Horse Riding. You can hire horses for some riding at Venna Lake. Can leave it during the Monsoon.
  • Trekking. There are many trekking trails around the hills of Mahabaleshwar. Ask your hotel for the nearest trekking trail.
  • Cycling – but be careful of speeding traffic especially on the outskirts. Bikes can be hired from Vasant Cycle Mart for Rs. 10 per hour or Rs. 50 per day.

To Eat:

Strawberry Fruit

  • Strawberries and Mulberries are the specialty of Mahabaleshwar. Buy the ‘sweet charlie’ variety of strawberries from the main Mahabaleshwar Market. Alternatively, you can also venture out into interior parts to handpick your berry from the strawberry farms.

Strawberry Milkshakes

  • Milkshakes of the above  – Strawberries, Mulberries etc.

Corn Patties

  • Corn – One should not forget to try the Corn grown locally available in both roasted and boiled form. Corn patties (Makka Patties) made from it are delicious. The food prepared with local vegetables have a unique taste and one should also try the small tomatoes which look like cherries!

Vada Pav

  • Vada Pav – Don’t forget to have the staple food of Maharashtra the Vada Pav which is deliciously prepared by the local vendor next to the Hanuman Temple in the main market.
  • Almost all the hotels have their own restaurants. Hotel Dream Land, Hotel Panorama & Hotel Shreyas have a nice restaurant and good food, and all three are close to the State Bus stand.
  • Hotel Temple-view – Vegetarian restaurant at old Mahabaleshwar for excellent parathas Rajasthani favorites. Hotel Woodland is another good option.

Mapro Garden

  • Mapro Garden, Mapro garden restaurant offers a decent menu. Most of the tourist vehicles stop here, on their way to Mahabaleshwar.

Shop - Mapro Garden, Situated on the curvaceous roads between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar

Drinks:

Generally restaurants here do not serve liquor, but a few places close to the State Bus Stand, like Hotel Shreyas have it on menu. You can buy all the liquor you want from Imperial Stores.

Hotel Rajesh - One of the Better hotels 20mtrs behind the Main Bus Stop Naka

 

Some of the Places to Stay:

A family-run heritage hotel with excellent and well furnished rooms with en-suite bathrooms & TV. Enjoy the panoramic view of the lake on the balcony as you sip your tea. Veg & Non Veg dining .Contact Mr Naval Jal or Hormuzd 6th & 7th generation owners for a relaxing break/stay. UK Contact: rohinjal@hotmail.com Rs 900-500 (starting off-season rate negotiable.).

http://www.hotelrajesh.com/

Centrally located pure vegetarian hotel with 70 centrally air conditioned rooms and 20 non air-conditioned rooms. Parking, pool with waterfall, gym, children’s play park with mini train.

  • Hotel Templeview, (in Old Mahabaleshwar), Ph (02168) 60025 / 60050,

http://www.templeview.net/

Check-in: 24 hours.

A family-run hotel with excellent and well furnished rooms and a big balcony to relax. They also have a dorm. Run by Mister Pradeep Jhaveri. Rs250-500 (starting off-season; negotiable).  

  • MTDC resort, New Mahabaleshwar (2 KM from the main market).

Check-in: 9.00AM; checkout: 9.00AM.

Surrounded by the jungle, gives a true feeling of wilderness. Rooms are just about okay. Food is fine. Some parts of resort building are about 125 years old. The cottages have three large sized rooms and a large bathroom & dressing area with respect to the price paid. The food and service are good. Most of all the location of the resort is the best value addition. Best described as “Best Value for money”. A Room rate starts from 700 for economy class.

  • Ramsukh, Old Mahabaleshwar, 7 KM away. Nice 3 star place.
  • Sherwood Hotel Pride, Blue Valley Ride, Off Satara Road, – 412 806. Tel: 02168 – 270070 / 77 / 99.

Check-in: 12; checkout: 11. Excellent hotel – superb location and Parsi food right in the middle of the jungle – best views in the hill station. 3000. (4000,) 

Expensive ones:

  • Valley View: includes gym ,indoor swimming pool , garden with view of valley , and good 3 star service.
  • Surya Retreat: rooms pointing to valley, great view, open swimming pool.
  • New hotel called Saket.

These Expensive hotels can cut a few more bucks from your wallet. These costs in range of 3000 – 5000/night depending on season.


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