Monday, May 23, 2016


Akash Lal Joseph
The way to Elephant Point

Everyone I know is always cribbing about how they need a vacation. I need one too, but you will never hear me cribbing, at least not about needing a vacation. The monsoon is around the corner and not only will it give everyone a respite from their water related woes and the merciless heat, it is also a great time to go someplace where you can enjoy the rains and not hope that they "Go Away!". Mahabaleshwar is one such place. It is a hill station in the Western Ghats, well technically its a plateau, but let's just call it a "Hill" Station. It is situated a hundred and twenty kilometers South West of Pune and is considered a must see in the Monsoon season. It has something to offer to every kind of traveller.

Krishna River flowing from a gomukh in a kunda
A view from Aurther Seat Point

1. History/Mythology Enthusiasts

Mahabaleshwar has been a very important place historically and if you think you fall under the above heading, this is THE PLACE for you. It has held great strategic importance in the Maratha Empire. The Battle of Pratapgarh was fought under the ramparts of the Pratapgarh Fort. Chhatrapati Shivaji defeated the Mughal commander Afzal Khan on the 10th of November in 1659. You can visit the Fort either by hiring a four wheeler or taking a local bus. Be prepared to walk for a while from the base of the fort though.

Another place which you absolutely must visit is the Panchganga Temple. This ancient temple is over 4500 years old and is built at the confluence of five rivers Krishna, Veena, Koyna, Savitri and Gayatri. Actually its seven rivers, Saraswati and Bhagirathi appear every sixty and twelve years respectively. The Bhagirati is to appear this year after a twelve year hiatus in the Maharashtrian month of Shrawan. It is said that the rivers Krishna, Venna and Koyna are the holy trinity Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma who were cursed by an irate Savitri into this form. Truly, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And if you are a true mythology enthusiast, read the complete story in the Padma Purana Shrishti Khand 17.

2. Photographers (BTW, I firmly believe if you own a good camera you ARE a photographer. Period.)

Mahabaleshwar is heaven for amateur and professional photographers alike. It has a large number of viewing points in relatively close proximity for you shutterbugs. Needle-hole Point, Wilson Point, Monkey Point, Arthur's Seat, Venna Lake are all extremely beautiful and picturesque. Arthur's seat is where British Officer Arthur Malet used to sit and gaze at the Krishna after he lost his wife and son in a ferry accident in the river. Add to these places the Glory of the Pratapgarh Fort standing tall and fearless at dawn or the beautifully sculpted Panchganga temple and you have yourself a winner . Also, as these are the Western Ghats local flora and fauna is equally enticing.
Needle hole point / Elephant Point
Venna Lake

3. Foodies

If you've heard Strawberry Fields by the Beatles and wished for a state of perfect mental chemical imbalance to go with it, look no further! Mahabaleshwar is famous for its Strawberries which are harvested between the months of December and February. Plan your vacation accordingly so that you can stay at a farm and enjoy freshly picked strawberries and a whole range of strawberry delicacies. Also famous are the Carrots, Mulberries and the fabled Cherry sized tomatoes. The area has many establishments serving great food at even better prices to suit every palate. Gujarati, Punjabi, Traditional Maharashtrian, Chinese are one of the many cuisines on offer here.

4. Honeymooners

My favourite kind of traveler without a doubt. I totally respect crossing the seven seas, scaling mountains, fighting dragons etc for love. But a trip to Mahabaleshwar during the Monsoon is slightly more convenient and definitely more desirable. The Venna lake has number of marvellous hotels built around it. The view, the weather, the strawberries, everything will add to your special time together. Have a look here for the best and most affordable Mahabaleshwar hotels. It makes for a great romantic getaway and there is no time like the Monsoon to be there. Please make your reservations well in time because it does tend to be overbooked in season.

We wish you great times and Godspeed.

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