In nearby Panchgani - which derives its name from the five hills that surround it - you set out on one of the special visits arranged by MTDC for a peep into the past. and some old British and Parsi homes.
Then you amble along the walkways thickly canopied by lush trees and vegetation and delight in the secrets you stumble upon. The Krishna snakes through tiny hamlets, farms and ravines hundreds of metres below. From Table Land, a flat mountain top, you look down in wonder at the coastal plains.
The next day you're astride your faithful horse as it canters along uncharted routes through hidden lovers' lanes to Kamalgad Fort.
Panchgani derives its names from the five or 'panch' hills around it. At an altitude of 1334 m it is just 38 m below Mahabaleshwar. These 38 m translate themselves into a breathtaking 18 km approach offering heart-stopping views of the Krishna River on the one side and the coastal plains on the other. Panchagni is the quintessential residential hill station with an old world charm. This can be seen in the architecture of the British buildings, the Parsi houses and the boarding houses that have been around for a century or more. For glimpses of a vanished era, a special visit can be arranged to some of the old British and Parsi homes.
The walkways are thickly canopied by lush trees and vegetation. The Krishna meanders through tiny hamlets, farms and ravines, hundreds of meters below. Table Land, a flat mountain peak majestically overlooks the coastal plains. Hours can be spent at the bazaar -- Panchgani is one of those rare places that doesn't crowd anyone yet in its own unhurried way deeply touches every visitor.
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.
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