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Snuggled in the beautiful hills and valleys of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Western Ghats, the town of Mahabaleshwar, in Maharashtra, is a rare blend of surreal beauty interspersed with colonial charm. Fondly called the Queen of Sahyadri Hills, Mahabaleshwar boasts narrow lanes flanked by pretty cottages overlooking verdant valleys; friendly shopkeepers happy to regale you with stories of old; and the fragrance of strawberries that seems to permeate every breath – this is what defines the charm and appeal of Mahabaleshwar. Several breathtaking vantage points with charming tales attached to them offer awe-inspiring views of lush mountain scenery.
A popular getaway from the cities of Pune (120 km) and Mumbai (285 km), Mahabaleshwar enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year. It is well-known for strawberry and mulberry farming. Several small and quaint cafes serve delicious and refreshing strawberry and cream that is a must-try. The cream is whipped up fresh every day, and the strawberries are juicy and red, plucked from the many fields that are spread across the land.
The old part of the town still retains its former grace and boasts a Mahadev temple that has a statue of a cow.
The source of River Krishna is said to be the mouth of this cow. Besides, four more rivers – Koyna, Venna, Savitri and Gayatri also come out of the mouth of this cow and later on, merge into the Krishna river. The rivers Venna and Koyna are said to be Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma who, together with Lord Vishnu, form the highly revered Hindu trinity – the three deities who are said to perform the cosmic functions of creation, preservation and destruction. And in fact, the name Mahabaleshwar itself means god of great power.
Mahabaleshwar served as the summer capital of the Bombay province during the British Rule, and the town came into being circa 1829.
Pune is the nearest airport, around 120 km away. One can take a cab from Pune to Mahabaleshwar.
State transport buses are available from Dadar and Mumbai CST to Mahabaleshwar. One can also take a cab, travelling via Panvel, Mahad and Poladpur, to reach Mahabaleshwar in around five hours. From Pune, the cab will travel on NH 4 and then take a diversion at Surur to Wai from where it is a picturesque drive through Pasarani Ghat up to Mahabaleshwar.