Mahabaleshwar - Panchgani


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One of the largest twin-hill stations in Maharashtra, spread over 150 sq km, Mahabaleshwar - Panchgani are located on the Western Ghats at the height ranging from 1200-1500 mtrs (Tallest peak in Maharashtra is Kalsubai which is liitle over 1600 mtrs). It was the summer capital of the Governor of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency during the colonial era. The hill resort is located at a distance of 120 km from Pune and 285 km from Mumbai. With its scenic extravaganza and assuaging climate, Mahabaleshwar is a popular place of recluse for the tourists during the summers. At a height of 1438 m above sea level at its highest lookout point (Sunrise Point), it experiences the flow of nature lovers, holidaymakers, adventurous lovers and even filmmakers (Remember the song sequences in early 90s or films like Gangajal, Omkara, Tare Jamin Par were shot in Wai-Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar area).

The various vantage points and observation towers scattered throughout the place offers some enthralling views of the lush vegetation around and the Koyna and Krishna valleys below. They also offer equally captivating sights of the various waterfalls.

Apart from being a popular tourist getaway and a much-favored honeymoon destination, Mahabaleshwar is also an important religious site. The famous Hindu temples of Krishna and Mahabaleshwar are located in the place, and are frequented by local devotees and religious tourists. In fact, the place borrows its name from the famous Hindu deity, 'Mahabali'- the presiding deity of the Mahabaleshwar temple. Moreover, the point of the five rivers- Krishna, Veena, Koyna, Savitri and Gayatri, which flow over the Deccan Plateau, is considered as holy and adds to the mysticism of the place.

Mahabaleshwar also offers ample opportunities for the adventurous souls such as Water sports, Para gliding, Trekking.


How to Reach?

Mahabaleshwar is just over 120 kms from Pune and it takes around 3 hrs to reach there. First 70-80 kms are on NH4 (Mumbai - Bangalore National Highway # 4) which is toll road and then you need to make a right at Surul Village for to go to Wai - Panchgani - Mahabaleshwar. Ample signboards are there. Panchgani is 20 km before Mahabaleshwar on Pune-Wai-Mahabaleshwar route. 

There are 2 ghat sections en-route - Khambataki (on NH4 near Pargaon-Khandala) and another one is 'Pasarani' before Panchgani. 6 laning of NH4 is in progress. Otherwise, roads are all good, wide, smooth and easy to navigate in all the seasons. You may decide to take your own vehicle / bike OR plenty of VOLVO buses / State Transport buses are available from Pune / Mumbai. If you are planning to go by Bus, local sightseeing can be done by hiring Tourist Taxis (fixed rate)

Neeta VOLVO operates daily trips from Mumbai / Pune to Mahabaleshwar with their Multiaxle buses .

For Mumbai folks, there is another route to reach Mahabaleshwar via goa highway - Panvel-Pen-Mahad-Poladpur-Ambenali ghat-Mahabaleshwar. However, via Pune would be more faster and safer route.

Entry Fee / Pollution Tax - You need to pay entry tax / pollution tax to local governing bodies at Panchgani (Rs. 50 for Car + Rs. 20 for pp), Mahabaleshwar (Rs. 30 per car + Rs. 20 pp), Old Mahabaleshwar (Rs. 2 pp), Aurther Seat Forest Checkpost (Rs. 5). Do preserve the tickets since they are valid for 7 days and might be frequently asked for as you move from one tourist point to another.

There are paid parking available at all the important view points and tourist destinations. 


 

Pune-Bangalore NH4 highway & Ambenali Ghat from Poladpur (NH17) to Mahabaleshwar


Suggested Pit stops / rest areas

(With parking facility, open space, snacks and clean toilets)

  • Hotel Natraj -> near Khed Shivapur (on your left while travelling towards Satara). Good place for south indian breakfast. UDUPI management.

  • Joshi wadewale -> snacks corner just after crossing the Katraj Tunnel on your right. Tasty food like Wadapav, Misalpav, Tea / Cofee, wada Sambar etc. lots of space.
  • McDonalds Near Khed Shivapur 
  • Mapro Garden in between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar is a popular halt for motorists who have lunch, strawberry milkshakes, strawberry ice-cream, good sandwiches and buy strawberries to take home. Plenty of open space. Thick wooded. Its pleasant even in the hot afternoon.

  • Vitthal Kamath Restaurant - in the premises of "Company Operated HP Petrol Pump" on your left while returning to Pune near Kikwi village after Shirwal. Good food, lots of space and clean toilets. You will get only Pure Veg. south Indian / Punjabi / Chinese food. Petrol is also Rs. 2 cheaper there than pune city. "Vitthal Kamath" is chain of restaurants started by none other than Kamath Hotels, owner of 5 star ecotel hotels like Orchid in Mumbai. You will see Viththal Kamath restaurant on Goa Highway after every 100 KMs.

     

Best Season to Visit -

The best time to visit Mahabaleshwar remains anytime between October and June. Summers, that generally lasts from March to mid-June, are generally warm. The temperature during summers rises to a maximum of 30 degree C. Days are warmer, though temperature drops down to a minimum of 16oC during the night. Because of its high altitude, thick forest areas, cool mountain breeze and cloudy weather, the heat during these months is mild and summer sun is not felt.

In Winter or post Monsoon, the climate is cooler and can be dropped to single digit. For last couple of years, they are reaching 2-3 degree thus creating ice crystals on the tree tops and on teh venna lake. The place sees a lot of tourists during the festive months of December and January and becomes ideal for Christmas and New-Year revelries.


During monsoons (mid-June to September), the weather remains wet and extremely damp. The place virtually becomes uninhabited during this season, except for the locals, due to the continuous rainfalls.

Click here for the latest Weather at Mahabaleshwar.

 
Mahabaleshwar in different seasons - 

            Mahabaleshwar in Monsoon - Rains are quite heavy and continuous. You can't get out and see much.
 
              Best time to visit Mahabaleshwar is after the rains, winter and early summer

Where to Stay?

Plenty of hotels / resorts from Economy to Luxury - Brightland Resorts (only **** resort), Ramsukh Resorts, Surya Retreat, Dreamland, Rajesh, Hotel Gautam, Fountain Hotel, Lake View, Valley View, Grand Resorts, Saket Plaza, The Pride Sherwood Resort, Saj Resort Or MTDC resort etc are to be named few. You may also hire a 2-6 BHK bungalows or row houses if you are in a big group / large family.

For more details on accommodation, Please visit the following sites -


Personal Experience with Stays - We have stayed at Ramsukh Resorts (Old Mahabaleshwar), Saj Resort, MTDC, Hotel Ravine (Panchgani) and Talwalkar's Serene Cottages before.

Ramsukh Resorts - Away from the crowd of Mahabaleshwar town. This is situated at Kshetra Mahabaleshwar overlooking the valley. Different accommodation types are available ranging from jacuzzi suits to the valley view. restaurant is pure veg. However, it is expensive and room interiors are good only for the higher end rooms.

 
View from most of the rooms on the upper floor

Hotel Ravine, Panchgani - One of the best hotels in Panchgani. This hotel was once booked by Amir Khan for the guests during his wedding with Kiran Rao and is always frequented by Filmstars and shooting units. Run by a friendly family, this place also has 2 international size tennis courts  where professional tournaments are played every year, dirt racing cars and even para gliding happens next to this place. Most of the Rooms are valley facing with clean, morden interior and restaurant (Melting Pot) serves one of the tastiest food. Try their garlic Naan and Paneer 65. I never had such a delicious dish anywhere else. Little expensive though. Restaurant serves both Veg and non-Veg. 
Tariff plan is flexible (exclusive of AC charges and meals) which is another plus point. (most of the hotels in Mahabaleshwar has AP plan inclusive of all meals). 
There are well interior, rustic outpost tents as well (not available in Monsoon) which is worth checking once.

 
Room interiors and Rustic out post tents situated at the age of the cliff overlooking valley

For bookings you may either contact their Mumbai office Or get in touch with Mr. Sarosh Bharucha from Pune (9371201202, 020-26163472). He is nice person and will assist you promptly and patiently with your booking requirement.

Talwalkar's Serene Cottages (Panchgani - Mahabaleshwar Road) - This complex consists of 2 bungalows which can accommodate upto 30 people and 8 separate rooms in Nisarga Inn Hotel for couples. This is MTDC approved homestay just 2 KM after the Mapro Garden facing the bondarwadi village, hills, and valley below. This is 3 year old property, Rooms are large, well furnished, newly painted,with clean attached bathrooms and a balcony. While bookings can be done from Mumbai / Pune, this estate is managed by a Caretaker (Shankar Ombale) and you get homely Maharastrian Veg - Non Veg fare for meals prepared by his family. 

This place is ideal for large groups, couples who are planning to stay away from the crowd. However, we found the tariff for this homestay slightly on the higher side (3500/- per couple per night inclusive of all meals except lunch) due to absence of few basic amenities like - linen were not white and even torned, hot water for limited hours (you need to rush for your bath), Inverter backup only for lights and not for TV / fan (Generator backup available for specific hours and upon request), Poor cable reception for TV, limited variety in meals if you are a non-maharashtrian. But overall it could be decent homestay if some of these issues are ignored. 

 
 

Suggested Itinery For 1 or 2 Day Trip

Mahabaleshwar is just 120 Km from Pune and can be enjoyed as Day Trip destination while for Mumbaikars, minimum 1 day stay is required. Below itenery for 1/2 day covers all important tourist destinations one should not miss while in Mahabaleshwar.

Day 1

    • Start early in the morning and take NH4 Mumbai-Bangalore Route. Travel via Chandani Chowk - Warje – New Katraj bypass Tunnel - Khed Shivapur. Road is good though 6 laning of NH4 is in progress. No damage post monsoon.
    • Breakfast options at "Hotel Natraj" near Khed Shivapur (on your left), MacDonald’s Or at Vitthal Kamat's Restaurant at HP petrol pump near Shirwal (on your right). Alternate option is "Joshi wadewale" snacks corner just after crossing the Katraj Tunnel. Tasty food like Wadapav, Misalpav, Tea / Cofee, wada Sambar etc. lots of space. All these places will have clean restrooms and ample parking space -  (Optional)
    • Continue on NH4 towards Satara. Cross Shirwal, Khambataki Ghat and Take right to Mahabaleshwar (below the flyover) via Wai-Panchgani at Surul Village. Near Wai, there is place called Menavali Ghat where there is a temple and flowing river nearby (Ghat). Films like Gangajal, Swades, Dabang, Omkara are shot here. Also visit Mahaganapati temple at Wai.- (Optional)
    • Proceed towards Panchgani, Paragliding at Harrison Folly if interested. Approximately Rs. 1500 pp cash for 15 min tandem flight at 5000-6000 ft altitude  -  (Optional)
    • Reach the first point before Panchgani -> Parsi Point - (Must)
    • 2nd pit stop is at Mapro Garden for brunch. The Mapro Garden in between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar is a popular halt for motorists who have strawberry milkshakes, strawberry with cream, and buy strawberries and other mapro products to take home. Soup,  Pizza and Classic Sandwiches are also specialitity of the house. Most of the ingredients including that of bread, vegetables are home grown / made. They have Clean toilets are available. Do visit the Orchid House and Chocolate making factory. You may stop here  while returning as well. - (Must)
    • Proceed to Mahabaleshwar, Instead of going straight to the city, after Surya Hotel and Saaj Resort - make sharp right towards Brightland Holiday Village / needle point / kates point.
    • Visit Kate’s point & needle hole point. You can enjoy camel ride here if interested. There is one restaurant here where you can enjoy Frankie and strawberry with cream. They have good seating place facing the valley.  - (Must)
    • Visit Kshetra / Old Mahabaleshwar (Mahabaleshwar Shiva Temple, Panchganga Mandir – Origin of 5 rivers and ancient Krishnadevi Mandir). Shop here for Mahabaleshwar spl hats, Madhusagar Honey and Gulkand. Don’t miss Krishnadevi Temple. This is ancient stone temple preserved ‘as-is’ and right at the corner of the hill facing the valley. Secluded place and hardly visited by any - (Must)
    • Proceed towards Arthur Seat Point and couple of other viewpoints in the vicinity.  Entire path is marked by signboards and traverse through thick green shade and hence, you can visit Arthur Seat Point even in the hot sun. - (Must)
    • Return by the same way to the Mahabaleshwar Town. Visit Caunought Peak Point enroute - optional
    • Visit Venna lake in the evening. Enjoy paddle boating at the lake which is open till 7:30 PM. Alternately, you can also visit Lodwick Point / Elephant Head to watch the Sunset. Do enjoy Horse ride at Lodwick Point Or prepare to walk for at least 1-2 KMs to reach the spot.
    • Visit Mahabaleshwar Market in the late evening / night and shop for Mahabaleshwar special items like hats, chappals, cane / wooden products, Coco Walnut Fudge, Chikki @ Wilsons, fresh produce like Strawberry, Mulberry, Mahabaleshwar Potato (reddish) etc  - (Must)
    • Travel back to Pune. Dinner at Bagicha Corner after Venna Lake Or Mapro Garden Nr. Panchgani Or at Vithal Kamat’s near Shirwal. 


      Day 2 (If you are planning to stay)

      • Visit Wilson Point (sunrise), Laudwick and Elephant Head Point, Pratapgadh Fort (Optional) in the morning. You may also visit Tapola lake (optional) which is 45 min drive from Mahabaleshwar and enjoy water sports on Koyna Backwater. However, be there early in the morning or in the evening . During afternoon, it would be very hot unless it is cloudy

      • Come back to Hotel, Have lunch & Check-out.

      • If you are with family / kids, you may visit Sherbaug which is near Mapro Garden or you may spend afternoon time at the Mapro garden if not visited before. There are few other amusements parks like Temptations, On Wheels at Panchgani.

      • Reach Panchgani in the evening. Sunset at Tableland. Here, you can do horse riding, Mary-go-round etc.

      • Return journey to Pune via same route.

      • You can have dinner after crossing Shirwal. There is "Vitthal Kamath Restaurant" in the premises of "Company Operated HP Petrol Pump" on your left. Good food, lots of space and clean toilets. You will get only Pure Veg. south Indian / Punjabi / Chinese food. "Vitthal Kamath" is chain of restaurants started by none other than Kamath Hotels, owner of 5 star ecotel hotels like Orchid in Mumbai.

      • There are other Dhaba type hotels available enroute. Else, there is One "Hotel Amantran" next to Joshi Wadewale

        Reach Pune by 11:00 PM

      Please note : You may alter the sightseeing sequence subject to the weather (cloudy, sunny, hot) or location of your Hotel. You may not be able to visit Pratapgad fort and Tapola in 2 day trip. It needs more time. Below map will help you to plan your sightseeing as per your comfort. From below map, There are signboards / directions available on most of the routes to reach these view points.

       

      What you should Eat?

      Mapro Garden - Strawberry With fresh Cream, Hot Veg Sandwich, Pizza, Strawberry ice-cream, Strawberry dipped in Chocolate, Corn bhel etc.

      Bagicha Corner (near Venna Lake or at Market) - Veg. Franky, Corn Pattie, Maharashtrian Thali etc.

      Maharashtrian Food (Pithale Bhakari, Baingan Masala) – Natu Farms @ Wai 

       
      Strawberry with fresh cream and classic veg sandwich at Mapros
       

      What you should Shop?

      MarketCane Handicrafts (Straw Hats), Strawberry / Choco-Walnut fudge, Mahabaleshwar special Chappal for ladies, Crosha work Cloths - kantha work bedsheets - blankates at Pallod Creations, fresh farm produce

      Mapro / Mala / Manama - Fresh Strawberry, Mulberry (Seasonal), products like fruit squash, jam, jelly, chocolates, Natural Honey, Gulkand etc.

      Sunrise Candles (aroma, floating etc.) made by blind person - Opp. Holy Cross Church, Near Mahabaleshwar Bus Stand

      Kshetra Mahabaleshwar - Mahabaleshwar Hats, Madhusagar Honey, Gulkand, wooden handicraft products, fresh strawberry, Mulberry 


      Strawberry Festival - While fresh strawberry is available throughout the year, its season starts from February onward.  Strawberry Farmers hold 4 day long festival each year around 1st week of April. This is the time when the strawberry crop is at its peak and you can eat free strawberries as much as you want at Mapro Or even in the market, they are available for Rs. 50 per KG. Don't miss this festival. It happened around 1-4 April in 2010.

       

      Important Points you should visit in Wai - Mahabaleshwar - Panchgani

      Mahaganapati and Shiva Temple at Wai, Nana Phadanvis wada at Menawali

      Though this area around river is not quite clean, if you have historical interests, you should see this place. 

       

      Parsi Point

      This windy road situated on the way to Mahabaleshwar overlooks the Krishna valley and the blue mirror like waters of the Dhom Dam. This is the first major view point you see enroute to Mahabaleshwar. There is a small children park here as well.

                  

      The Lingmala Falls
      T
      he Lingmala Falls in Mahabaleshwar can be reached by road. It lies on the Mahabaleshwar-Poona road. The stream here precipitates over the face of steep cliff, unbroken when the torrent is swollen by rain but ordinarily divided by projecting rocks about one third of the way down into thin silver streaks and sprays often circled by rainbows. The forest bungalow of lingmala is also close by.

      Kates Point & Needle Hole Point : Offers breathtaking view of krishna valley & deep waters of the dhom dam. From southern side it looks like an elephants head. There is also an echo point.

       
       


      Kshetra Mahabaleshwar - There are 3 temples in the premises, Mahabaleshwar Shiva Temple, Panchganga Mandir and Krishnadevi Mandir.

      Panchaganga Mandir - As per the Hindu mythology five holy rivers krishna, venna, koyna, Savitri & gayatri show their token appearance here in five springs flowing closely. They are seen flowing in five stone conduits & joining in one horizontal half channel leading to the Goumukhi cowface spout. Though the Gaomukh it falls in the cistern below. On the northern side there is a similar conduit through which the holy 'ganga' appears every twelve years. From the conduit on the southern side flows the holy saraswati when the following astrological times come together, namely, Bhadrapad month, shasthi (6th day) ,Tuesday sun in hasta nakshatra, Rohini nakshatra in predominance & Vyatipat. This miraculous yoga (coincidence) is known as the "Kapila Shasthi Yoga", which is believed to be very auspicious occasion as per the Hindu faith. 


      Shiva Mandir (Mahabaleshwar) - 
      The Mahalinga of the lord Shiva is of Rudraksha shape & believed to be 'self-bodied' (swayambhoo) It is called Trigunatmaka meaning Brahma-Visnhu-Mahesh are on it for ever. On the head of the mahalinga you see the marks of the five holy rivers (Panchaganga) & their waters never loose their level. Mother Jeejabai was weighed by gold by Raje Shivaji in this temple & then the gold was distributed in charity. This Mahalinga is considered to be superior to the twelve jyotirlingas.

      Krishnadevi Mandir - This is ancient stone temple preserved ‘as-is’ and right at the corner of the hill facing the valley. Secluded place and hardly visited by any.

                  

      Connaught peak (on your way to the main city from the old Mahabaleshwar) - Highest Point. You get a 360* view of mountains and Mahabaleshwar valley.


                    

       
      Elphiston point

      The first point of M'war/ Overlooking two valleys, koyna on the left & savitri on the right.

      Marjorie Point
      You can see several ranges of the Sahyadri range.

      Castle Rock / Savitri
      On the way to the Arthur's seat shows savitri valley.

      Arthur's Seat
      Queen of all points. Some compare the stractification of rocks on southern side to the world famous stratification of rocks of the Grand Canyon of Colarado. USA. It is fascinating to see the barren deep valley Savitri on the left & shallow green valley on the right. It is more fascinating to know that Arthur's seat is the only place showing geographical distinction of kokan & Desh (Deccan), two territories of Mahabaleshwar, so clear & so near. If you go by the steps you come across a spring known as Tiger's spring which is supposed to be the source of the river Savtri. Immediately below the seat is window point. You have to go deep by steps to reach the window point. 

       
       

      Tip - This is one of the best point in M'shwar and road is always crowded with vehicles. Do not attempt to take your vehicle till the last point. If you see a line of vehicles parked on your right, find a place and park your vehicle there.
      Wilson Point
      Also called as Sunrise point. The highest point. 4710 ft above sea level. It is a vast plateau. There are three masonry round platforms to see the sunrise. You are advised to see sunrise from platform no:2. You can see sunset also from this point

      Bombay Point
      Very popular sunset point. Shows the sahyadri range koyana valley & pratap garh.

      Lodwick Point & Elephant Head
      Protruding towards pratapgardh from M'war plateau you will see the surrounding scenery with awe. You have to walk 1-2 km from the parking lot to reach the end point and hence, horse riding is also available here and is recommended.

                   

      Pratap Gadh Fort
      At a distance of 25 kms from Mahabaleshwar stands the majestic Pratapgadh housing the tomb of Afzalkhan at the toe of the fort. There is a temple of bhavani mata, the idol of worship of King Shivajiraje Bhosle. There is a statue of Shivaji Maharaj inside the fort called Bale killa.

                      
      Table Land at Panchgani
      Situated around 60 mts high from Panchgani ,this flat large expanse of laterite rock is the second longest mountain plateau in asia. There are some spacious caves that can be seen from here and one of them is Devil's Kitchen. Horseriding and other games are available here.

      Tapola Lake -  

      Picturesque 45 min drive from Mahabaleshwar. There are water sports activities available here on the backwaters of Koyna dam. There are 2 boat clubs - Vishal & Shivsagar. Different Boat rides available are - Covered boats, Shikara, speed boat, water scooter. Speed boat ride will cost you from Rs. 600 to Rs. 6000 depending on the distance and it is not on per person basis. So it comes cheap when you are in big group. You can even hire a boat to reach the Koyna dam Wall which is nearly 40-50 KM from this place and takes half day. Boating in Koyna backwaters is a must experience!

      Note - Beware of Bat bird drops in the parking lot. Do not park your vehicles under the tree. It is very difficult to remove the stains.

                  

                  


      Paragliding at Harrison's Folly OR Near Sidney Point, Panchgani

      If you are interested in Paragliding, it happens at the Harrison Folly just before reaching Panchgani OR near Ravine Hotel at Panchgani and is weather permitting (Rs. 1500 PP for 15 min tandem ride. You can bargain). It is the lifetime experience!

      Please Contact -

       
      Additional Photo Gallery -



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