Mahabaleshwar, erstwhile summer capital of Bombay province during the 'Raj', Mahabaleshwar nestled in the sahyadris is now the most popular hill station in Maharashtra. Mahabaleshwar is a destination thronged by tourists almost all through the year.
Mahabaleshwar with its magnificent scenic view points, the perennial springs and waterfalls of Mahabaleshwar plateau along with the salubrious weather it enjoys truely lives upto its reputation of being the 'Queen of Hills'. Located about 120 km southwest of Pune and 285 km from Mumbai, Mahabaleshwar is a vast plateau, bound by valleys on all sides reaching an altitude of 4710 ft at the Wilson point.
Built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja in 1656, the Pratapgarh Fort is located about 24 km west of Mahabaleshwar. The fort encompasses two ancient forts; the Upper Fort - built on the top of the hill and the Lower Fort. Within the fort walls, tourists can see the Bhavani Temple, the tomb of Afzal Khan and Mahadev temple. The fort also has a maze chambers and long dark walkways, some of them lead to trap doors with a 100 meter fall. The fort is the witness of historic Battle of Pratapgarh between Shivaji and Afzal Khan. The Pratapgad fort offers exhilarating and excellent views of the Konkan valley.
The Venna Lake is situated around 2 km from the ST bus stand and is among the most popular tourist places in Mahabaleshwar. The lake is 2.5 km long and is encircled by trees on all sides. Tourists can enjoy activities like fishing and boating at the lake, they can even do a little horse riding. There are a few small eateries and strawberry stalls lined up at the banks of the lake.
There are three waterfalls in Mahabaleshwar; the first one is the Lingmala Falls which is located about 6 km from Mahabaleshwar. Formed by the River Venna, the waterfall plunges down from a height of 500 ft and can be seen in its glory during the rainy season. The second one is the Dhobi Falls which is located around 3 km from Mahabaleshwar, on the trail which connects petit road with Old Mahabaleshwar road. The water plunges down into a deep valley and finally merges with Koyna River. The waterfall is a popular picnic spot. The last one is the Chinamons Falls. It is located at around 2.5 km from Mahabaleshwar in an exotic place with Chinese cultivated gardens at close proximity.
The Krishna temple is another place of religious importance in Mahabaleshwar. The place where the temple is located is locally known as "Panchganga" which means "Five Rivers" i.e. Krishna, Koyna, Yenna, Gayatri and Savitri. The temple was built by Raja Singhandeo and later in 1635, the Great Maratha Shivaji, renovated and improved the temple.
Lord Mahabaleshwar Temple:
The Mahabaleshwar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is an important Hindu pilgrimage site. It is situated in the Old Kshetra Mahabaleshwar, about 6 km north from the main city. The temple was built by the Chanda Rao More dynasty in the 16th century and is a model of the Hemadant architectural style of South India.
Tapola is located at a distance of about 27 km south of Mahabaleshwar and very less people know about this place. The small town is situated down the Tapola Ghat in the Koyna valley on the extreme backwaters of the Triveni Sangam of the Koyna, Solshi and the Kandhati River. The place is locally called as Mini Kashmir due to the tranquility and the splendor of the Shivsagar Lake. The Shivsagar dam located here is popular for motor boats. One can enjoy riding motorboats, speed boats and scooter riders on the waters. There are many unidentified forts in the deep forests around the lake too.
Scenic Points in Mahabaleshwar:
Mahabaleshwar is well known for its points which offer panoramic views of the amazing landscapes. There are more than 14 viewpoints which present impressive views to the tourists. These points are within close range of each other and are named after notable Britishers. Some of the most popular points in Mahabaleshwar are: Elphinstone Point, Arthur's Seat, Galoni Point, Lodwick Point, Wilson Point, Babington point, Connaught Peak and Hunter Point.