Kate's point and the elephant head view point at Mahabaleshwar

Strawberry heartland of India- Mahabaleshwar

This post is a follow-up on my 3-days backpacking trip to Satara. If you haven’t read it already, you can do so by clicking here. I had backpacked across Satara district covering Satara town – Wai – Panchgani – Mahabaleshwar – Khas plateau – Satara town

In this post, I have tried to share details of my day trip to Mahabaleshwar. The place as such, doesn’t needs any special introduction. This hill station is a favorite haunt of tourists from the nearby metropolis and afar. While its stunning views of the surrounding Sahyadri mountains and Deccan traps attracts the weekenders in large numbers, it sees a large footfall of Hindu pilgrims as well. Mahabaleshwar can be broadly classified into two parts, the New and the Old. I started my day trip to Mahabaleshwar from Panchgani on a Sunday morning. I have tried to explain my Mahabaleshwar trip in detail through this post.

Part 1: New Mahabaleshwar

This part of the hill station is popular for its breathtaking sceneries of the western Ghats or the Sahyadri mountains. It was mainly popularized as the summer capital by the British. The table top mountains were strategically used by the Marathas for holding up enemies. Today, it is especially popular among the honeymooners and millennials as a short getaway from the nearby cities.

With many good viewpoints falling on the way, the 15kilometer stretch from Panchgani to Mahabaleshwar calls for many pitstops enroute. We stopped in the following order of places.

a. Parsi point: that gives a view of the Dhom dam from a different direction than what we had been seeing all through the previous day.

b. The Lingmala & Bhilawar waterfalls: These places weren’t as appealing as the case would have been with a good monsoon season.

c. Mapro garden & chocolate factory: This is the venue of the annual strawberry festival and one can see the chocolate making process at the factory through a glass wall. We tried shots of different juices & crushes they offer at the factory and picked up some bottles and chocolates as souvenirs from our trip.

The Mapro strawberry garden and Chocolate factory
The Mapro strawberry garden and Chocolate factory

d. Kate’s point: It was a pleasant drive amid the Koyna forest reserve to get here. The highlight for tourists visiting this valley is the echo point and the elephant’s head / Needle hole point. From here, we caught a beautiful view of Dhom dam, Balkawadi dam, Krishna valley and the Kamalgarh fort.

e. Savitri point: We drove through the forests hoping to sight a few peafowls, deer etc. but had no luck. Our visit to Savitri point was disappointing because the entire valley had been engulfed by mist. Since the entire valley was filled with mist even at peak noon-time, there seemed no signs of it clearing out.

Kate's point & the elephant head
Kate’s point & the elephant head

f. Castle rock, 3 monkey point, Malcom point, window point, tiger spring, hunter’s point, echo point and Arthur’s point: These are view-points in the same valley, but now enshrouded by the clouds. We only walked past all these spots without being able to see even the faces of the people standing next to us. In fact, this very valley was what had inspired me to plan my trip to Mahabaleshwar. The view of these deccan traps / table-top mountains had mesmerized me through several Bollywood movies that had been shot here. However, that visit was a matter of bad luck.

g. Marjorie and the Elphinstone points: The drive through these places too meant only disappointment.

Part 2: Old Mahabaleshwar

This part of Mahabaleshwar spikes up the interest of the history buffs and those that are culturally or spiritually inclined. Several ancient temples are dotted here amid the serenity of the Krishna valley. Some of the important landmarks are listed below:

h. Panchganga temple: This is the place of origin for 5 important rivers in the region, namely Gayathri, Savitri, Koyna, Venna and Krishna. The five rivers conflux underground and then spout together through the mouth of a cow carved out of a stone about 4500 years ago.

i. Mahabaleshwar temple: This temple dedicated to lord Shiva is accessible from the Panchganga temple, after a small walk through the shopping lanes. This temple is what gives the hill station, it’s name. The legends mention about Atibaleshwar and Kotibaleshwar also, but those are temples that are lost.

j. Krishnabhai temple: A further walk of about 100 meters from the Mahabaleshwar temple led us to an archeological treasure that remains untouched by mainstream tourists. The stream of water spouting from a Gomukh (the mouth of a stone sculpted cow) in this 13.C.E temple is believed by a few to be the origin of river Krishna. Situated almost on a cliff, the place offered a great view of the Krishna valley around. For those familiar with ancient architectural styles, this temple is a good example of the Hemadpanti style of temple architecture.

The Krishnabhai temple
The Krishnabhai temple

k. Venna lake: A popular and a beautiful place otherwise, we decided not to stop here when we arrived there. The place was maddening and crowded with tourists.

l. Other places of interest in Mahabaleshwar: On a clear day, one could plan to see the sunrise at Wilson point that is known to be the highest part of Mahabaleshwar and Sunset at Bombay point. Both viewpoints are part of the Sindola hill.

NOTE:

  • The entry and exit to Mahabaleshwar is only between 06.00.a.m. to 06.00.p.m. as it is a protected forest area. So, it is required to plan your travel or stay at Mahabaleshwar accordingly.
  • This hill station contributes to 80% of the total strawberry produce of India. Hence, it is safe to call it as the strawberry heartland of India. DO NOT miss to eat fresh strawberry with cream for dessert after a nice Maharashtrian lunch at any of the restaurants in the Mahabaleshwar market.

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