Nestling in the curvaceous mountain ranges of the western
ghats of Maharashtra are the cool misty resorts of Mahabaleshwar and
Panchgani. Away from the crowds and noise of the city, these twin resorts
are an ideal holiday destination.
Several little known but
charming hill resorts nestle shyly in these mountains. They seem to belong
to the colonial era when people traveled up to these resorts to escape the
heat of the plains. Many of them still retain some of the old world charm
and make an ideal holiday destination.
Among the hill resorts of
the state, Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani are very popular. Tucked away in the
Satara district, they are best approached from Pune. Spared the
commercialization that has affected the hill resorts of north and south
India, the two resorts offer a clean, calm and thoroughly refreshing
alternative. And, perhaps the only place in the country which offers a
myriad activities-boating, fishing, horse riding, trekking and playing golf
on the gorgeous nine-hole golf course built on the edge of a cliff!
the Krishna and Koyna valleys, Mahabaleshwar, at an altitude of 1372 meters
opens up a whole world of picturesque delight. With an air of unspoilt
beauty, it is a paradise for nature explorers and peace lovers, as also for
filmmakers and producers. The summer capital of the erstwhile Bombay
Presidency, Mahabaleshwar retains its quintessential charm, despite the
increasing crowds that visit the town. Numerous majestic mansions built
during the days of the British, still stand as monuments of the Raj.BEST
TIME TO VISIT
Best time to visit Mahabaleshwar is October to June
and best time to visit Panchgani is September to May. MAHABALESHWAR
derives its name from the presiding deity Mahabali whose shrine
at the old Mahabaleshwar Temple is a major attraction for worshippers and
Lingmala waterfalls present an enthralling sight of
cascading water as it scatters from atop a steep cliff into thin silver
streaks, often encircled by rainbow colors. The other water falls-chairman
and Dhobi, are popular with picnickers. The former can be reached by the
Carviali Road. Dhobi waterfall is on a bridle path connecting Petit Road
with Old Mahabaleshwar Road. A boat ride on the tranquil, crystal-clear
waters of Lake Vena entices one beyond appreciation. The cool whispers of
the surroundings add to the serenity of the landscape.
30 exotic viewpoints provide one with a spectacular access to the ultimate
in fascinating landscapes. Most of the points derive their names from some
former British dignitary and are situated in the 10-kilometer radius of the
bazaar in Mahabaleshwar. Some points can be reached by motorable roads,
whereas other can be reached on foot
Point is the nearest and the highest point in Mahabaleshwar. It is a vast
bare rock with three observation towers erected at different spots. It is a
major attraction for tourists as it offers a beautiful view of the sunrise
point, two kilometers from the bazaar offers a beautiful view of the Koyna
valley and Chinamans waterfall. Helens point is about a
kilometers ride from here by the Blue Valley Road. It takes one into
the midst of the valley and gives an enchanting view of tiny fields and neat
Bombay point is one of the earliest known points in
Mahabaleshwar. Every evening visitors rush to the peak to get a spectacular
view of the sunset. From the peak, one can also see Pratapgarh and
Makrandgarh at their best.
Connaught peak and Hunter Point are
situated off the Old Mahabaleshwar Road. Connaught Peak is the second
highest peak of these hills. It offers a panoramic view of the Vena Lake and
Krishna Valley. It was first known as Mount Olympia, and was a favorite spot
for riders. The Duke of Connaught was so enchanted by its majestic view that
he could not resist the temptation of associating his name with the spot.
Hence in 1880, Mount Olympia became Connaught Peak.
From here one
can see Old Mahabaleshwar and Elphinston Point to the north; Pandavgad and
Krishna Valley to the east. Hunters point approached from Old
Mahabaleshwar Road, gives a picturesque view of the Koyna Valley.
the way to Arthurs Seat one comes across Elphinston, Marjorie and
Savitri Points and also Castle Rock. The cliffs at these points rise from
the Konkan Valley, which are some 500 meters below the level of the Koyna
Valley. The ravine between these points is the rise of Savitri River which
rushes down 700 meters straight from here.
Favorite picnic spot,
Elphinston Point, named after the Governor of Bombay, Sir Elphinston, was
discovered by Dr.Murray in 1830. Arthurs Point, named after Arthur
Malet, is Mahabaleshwars most famous point overlooking the densely
forested valley. It is interesting from this point, to watch a straw hat or
a handkerchief, tossed down, sailing attractively in the air like a
While going to Arthurs Seat, one comes
across a small stream called the Tiger Spring. Till this day people believe
that tigers and panthers frequent this place to quench their thirst.
Point is named after a General who reached this point in 1824. He was the
first European to set foot on the Mahabaleshwar hills. A monument at the top
of the promontory has been erected in his memory. Beyond Lodwick Point is
the extreme end of the mountain range known as Elephants Head. It is
only 12 feet to the Koyna Valley below. From Lodwicks point, the
overhanging cliff looks like an elephants head and trunk, and hence
Kates point on the Mahabaleshwar-Pune road, gives
a commanding view of the Krishna Valley. Near Kates point is the Echo
Point, which, true to its name, echoes the words of the speaker. PANCHGANI
On the way to Mahabaleshwar from Pune, Panchgani is a picturesque
little town in the shade of groves of casuarinas and silver oak. Protected
from harsh winds by a tableland on one side and high cliffs descending into
a valley on the other, Panchgani has a pleasant, bracing climate throughout
the year. Panchgani is also an ideal base for some good trekking from where
one can explore several mule tracks that lead through the now thinning
The hill resort derives its name from the five hills that
surround it. At an altitude of 1334 meters it is just 38 meters below
Mahabaleshwar. These 38 meters translate themselves into a breathtaking 19
kilometers approach that swoops around bends with carefree abandon, offering
attractive views of the river Krishna on one side and the coastal plains on
Panchgani was founded in 1853 by John Chesson who was
sent out by the East India Company to find a suitable place where the wives
and children of the officers of the Company could reside instead of going
back to England frequently. Since then, Panchgani has been an educational
center and hill resort.
It has the Raj stamped indelibly all over
it. It can be seen in the architecture of the old British buildings, the
Parsi houses and the boarding schools that have been around for a century or
Flocked by viewpoints, Panchgani is full of wonders, as it
overlooks the scenic magnificence of the Krishna Valley, which extends many
kilometers from east to west its numerous hamlets, cultivated fields and
The view from Tableland, a flat mountain peak
measuring about one square kilometer, exposes the mysterious valleys and the
miniature looking plains on all sides. The Caves, Kamlagad fort, Municipal
Garden and the Childrens park add to Panchganis unending beauty.
The walkways, thickly canopied by lush trees and vegetation, offer many
delights and unravel many a secret. Visitors can select a horse from one of
the numerous stables at the resort and canter along uncharted routes through
hidden lovers lanes, to the caves or while away their time at the
bazaar. Like Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani is known for strawberries,
blackberries, jams and fruit jellies. Also available are the famous
Mahabaleshwar shoes, pith flowers, exclusive saris shawls, readymade
garments, eye-catching decorative items, leather goods and tribal trinkets.
The Devils kitchen, situate to the south of Tableland is a
place of mythological interest. According to one legend, Pandavas resided
here for some time during their exile. Pandavgad caves near Wai are believed
to have been built by them and bear their name.
Near the Octroi
Naka, lies Sidney Point, a flattened area on the apex of a conical hill. >From
here one can see Wai and the Sanatorium in the distance and also the
sparkling waters of Dhom Dam. Parsi Point and Graves Point are located on
the Panchgani Mahableshwar road and offer a view of the Krishna Valley. Six
kilometers away are the Rajpuri, caves, located in a temple of Kartik Swami,
son of Lord Shiva.
Panchgani has the Moral Rearmament Training
Center founded by Mahatma Gandhis nephew Raj Mohan Gandhi. Its modern
structures stand distinctly in the Victoria surroundings. A visit to the
Center means a beginning of a new moral awareness. MRA consists of hostels,
conference rooms and a multipurpose auditorium.
TO REACH By Air :
Pune is the nearest airport both for
Mahabaleshwar (120 km and Panchgani (98 km) By Rail :
Mahabaleshwar, the nearest railhead is Wathar (62 km) but Pune (120 km) is
the convenient railhead.
For Panchgani, the nearest railhead is
Wathar (45 km). Mumbai-Wathar via Pune (312 km). Pune-Wathar (120 km) By
From Mumbai via Pune, Mahabaleshwar is 290 km and via Mahad it is
247 km. The State Transport buses ply from Mumbai and Pune to Mahabaleshwar.
MTDC operates daily bus services except during the monsoon, between
Mumbai-Mahabaleshwar-Mumbai. Also sightseeing tours for Mahabaleshwar and
From Mumbai via Pune, Panchgani is
270 km and via Mahad 266 km, from Pune 98 kilometers and from Mahabaleshwar
19 km. The State Road Transport buses ply from Satara, Pune, Wai,
Mahabaleshwar and Mahad. MTDC runs a regular bus service between Mumbai and
Panchgani. WHERE TO STAY
Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani have reasonable priced bungalows. MTDC run
holiday resorts and hotels.