India is surely a popular tourist destination, not only among our own countrymen but also among the international traveler, who consider our country as one of their favorite destinations. The reasons for this choice are many. India is well known for its pilgrimage spots, ancient caves, sightseeing places, weekend getaways, museums, popular monuments, hill stations and the list goes on.
People who have a religious bent of mind prefer visiting temples and other pilgrimage places to offer their prayers, hill stations are more popular amongst the younger crowds.
Monuments and archaeological sites are a favorite for the inquisitive traveler who wants to dig deep into our country’s historical roots. Sightseeing spots and picnic places are for those who want to have fun during the weekends after a long week at work.
The reason why hill stations are so popular among the youth is because they provide a relaxing holiday to the people after they have spent an entire week tirelessly at work. Nature appears at its best in any hill station and that’s the reason people get away to hill stations to enjoy the calm, serene nature.
The beauty and magnitude of nature’s powers can be felt in the calm mountain ranges; a stroll in the nearby lake provides soothing effects to the mind. Honeymoon travelers prefer hill stations as it gives them lot of privacy to spend time with their spouses and experience the beauty of nature.
The cool greenery all around gives a soothing effect to the mind and makes one wonder about the magnificent nature in all its grandeur.
Some of the most popular hill stations of India are Ooty, Darjeeling, Mount Abu, Nainital, Shimla, Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, Waynad, Mussorie, and many more.
The scenic beauty of nature can be experienced in all these hill stations and the connectivity provided to reach them is also good, hence they are very popular and preferred places.
There are certain months of the year when one should visit when it’s ideal time to visit and also certain other times when the weather becomes unfavorable, hence best to avoid at those times.
Hill stations are usually very calm during the summer season and that’s when most of the children have vacations at schools and colleges.
So people prefer going out at summers to these hill stations to beat the summer heat in cities and escape to a cooler and much quieter place.
During winters, the weather becomes very chill and intolerable for those not used to variations in weather so it’s practically best to avoid visiting in such seasons. But every place has its own story to offer and hence its best to contact the concerned tourism department housed at the particular location before planning a journey.
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The Seat of Power
Mahabaleshwar is a serene and quiet hill station, located in Satara district of Maharashtra state. The hill station can be located in the beautiful Sahyadri hill range that offers spectacular views of nature and beauty unlimited of the hill area. Let us now understand the connection of Mahabaleshwar with ancient mythology.
Image Credit: Source (Lodwick Point Main, Mahabaleshwar)
The name Mahabaleshwar can be split into three parts namely – Maha, bala and Eshwar.
Maha means something that is huge and magnificent, bala means strength or power, Eshwar is the other name given to Lord Shiva. In short, the place signifies a very magnificent seat of almighty’s power.
In olden days, Britishers chose to visit the place as a summer getaway when they could not bear the scorching summer heat and had their own grand stays at the hill station.
In fact, like many kings who choose to have a different summer capital during the summer days, the British heads too preferred a cooler place to beat the heat and the rulers of the province of Bombay chose Mahabaleshwar as their ideal summer capital and the preferred destination for a few summer months.
The valley of Mahabaleshwar is as beautiful as any other scenic landscape and offers highly spectacular views from different places. The very ancient Mahadev temple located in this hill station is what gave the name to the small town.
It is very famous for being the powerful source of divinity and sacred truths that brought the name Mahabaleshwar to the hill station.
River Krishna finds its source in this hill station and starting from here, the river can be seen sharing its waters across the states of its own home state Maharashtra first of all, further continuing towards Karnataka, and then to the Telugu regions of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
People usually converse in Marathi as it is the local language of the region. We may also find Hindi speakers mainly for business purposes. The town of Mahabaleshwar consists of three villages – Malcolm Peth, village of Shindola and also Old Mahabaleshwar where one can visit the Mahadev temple.
The Land of Strawberries
The hill station of Mahabaleshwar is covered by beautiful valleys all around where strawberries are grown in abundance. Our country receives the maximum production of strawberries from this region as the cool climate makes it favorable for the cultivation of strawberries.
The government of India bestowed upon the Mahabaleshwar strawberries, the pride of this place, with a GI or Geographical Indication tag and brought glory to the region and the growers of strawberry. It gave them a reason to be proud of their cultivation and the intellectual property rights gave them legal rights for its cultivation and production.
As we know the place is famous for strawberries, one can have plenty of ice-creams, milkshakes, jams and jellies prepared from the fruit.
One can enjoy the delicious variety of milk shakes and ice creams that are on offer at various stalls during the tourist season. One can even go shopping for purchasing strawberry preparations and delights and can take home many packs with them.
Popular places to Visit
Some very famous viewpoints that offer high risen and spectacular view points of the entire valley are Wilson point, Parsi point, Elephant’s point and Babington point. The Wilson point is quite popular and everyone chooses to visit this point without fail as it gives the most spectacular views of both sunrise and sunset that one can’t afford to miss when at this place.
The other points are also very popular choices as they offer high altitude and elevated views to experience the beauty of the valley. The Pratapgadh fort is a very old, ancient fort where the battle of Pratapgadh was fought. This fort was built in the 17th century and it draws lots of tourists from all over the country today.
A beautiful lake stands still among the valleys of Mahabaleshwar that was once built by Appasaheb Maharaj in 1842 and named Venna Lake. The Chinaman and Lingmala waterfalls offer mesmerizing views from the top, adding to the beauty of the valley.
Image Credit: Source (Sunset Point, Mahabaleshwar)
Sir Arthur used to sit a point with his wife to enjoy the breathtaking views of Krishna river from a point, now famously known as the Arthur point, named after him. It needs a little climbing up to the actual point and there are many points from this main point and require around two to three hours to actually view and enjoy all the surrounding points from there.
Next, let’s look at how to reach Mahabaleshwar. Mahabaleshwar is easily connected by road and rail transport systems. The nearest railways station from Mahabaleshwar is the Wathar station, which is about 60 kilometers from the place. The other nearest point to Mahabaleshwar would definitely be Pune.
Government services offer plenty of bus transport services from Pune and Mumbai to Mahabaleshwar and one can easily hire a taxi to reach the place. There are plenty of restaurants offering both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food at the hill station.
Tourists can go shopping at the town bazaar that offers many varieties for shopping lovers. A nearby hill station that one should not miss when at Mahabaleshwar is the Panchgani hill station. It is a 37 kilometer drive from Mahabaleshwar to Panchgani through the Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani road and one can enjoy various breathtaking points and views along the journey.
There are many heritage bungalows and resorts that have come up at the place to ease travel time and stay for tourists. Guided tours are conducted at the place for the convenience of travelers. The berry delights that are offered at this place are not found anywhere else in our country and that is why one should not miss gorging on strawberries when at this place.