Mahabaleshwar is a small town and a municipal council in Satara district in the Indian state of Maharashtra.It is a place of pilgrimage for Hindus because the Krishna river has its origins here. The British colonial rulers developed the town as a hill station, and served as the summer capital of Bombay Presidency during the British Raj.
Mahabaleshwar is located at 17.9237°N 73.6586°E. It has an average elevation of 1,353 metres (4,439 ft). Located about 120 km (75 mi) southwest of Pune and 285 km (177 mi) from Mumbai, Mahabaleshwar is a vast plateau measuring 150 km2 (58 sq mi), bound by valleys on all sides. It reaches a height of 1,439 m (4,721 ft) at its highest peak above sea level, known as Wilson/Sunrise Point. Mahabaleshwar comprises three villages: Malcolm Peth, Old "Kshetra" Mahabaleshwar and part of the Shindola village.
Mahabaleshwar is the source of the Krishna River that flows across Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The legendary source of the river is a spout from the mouth of a statue of a cow in the ancient temple of Mahadev in Old Mahabaleshwar. Legend has it that Krishna is Lord Vishnu himself as a result of a curse on the trimurtis by Savitri. Also, its tributaries Venna and Koyna are said to be Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma themselves. An interesting thing to notice is that 3 other rivers come out from the cow's mouth apart from Krishna and they all travel some distance before merging into Krishna which flows East towards the Bay of Bengal. These rivers are the Koyna, Venna (Veni) and Gayatri. The Savitri river flows Westward via Mahad to the Arabian Sea.
Climate of the area is suitable for cultivation of strawberries, Mahabaleshwar strawberry contributes to about 85 percent of the total strawberry production in the country. It also received the geographical indication (GI) tag in 2010.
Very heavy rainfall is a normal occurrence during monsoons. During July, 10-12 days of continuous rains with 100-200 mm rains each day can be seen each year.
In 1819, after the demise of the Maratha empire, the victorious British ceded the hills around Mahabaleshwar to the vassal state of Satara. Colonel Lodwick (Later General Sir Lodwick) after climbing the mountains near Mahabaleshwar, recommended the place as a sanatorium for the British forces to governor Sir John Malcolm of Bombay presidency. The Raja of Satara was granted other villages in exchange for the British getting Mahabaleshwar in 1828. In old records Mahabaleshwar was even called as Malcolm Peth after the governor. Mahabaleshwar started gaining prominence when British officials of Bombay presidency such as in 1828, and later Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone, Arthur Malet (for whom the seat at "Point Arthur" is named), Carnac, and many others became regular visitors. A lake called Venna lake was constructed in 1842 to collect water from perennial springs.The Venna river flows from this lake. Bartley Frere, the commissioner of Satara in 1850s built the road from Satara to Mahabaleshwar. In mid 1800s, Mahabaleshwar was made into summer capital of Bombay presidency. Government spending led to rapid development of the area.Colonial officials spent part of their year in the area.Their wives spent longer period to be with their children in local boarding schools in Mahabaleshwar and nearby Panchgani. The British rulers wanted to recreate the English landscape in the hill stations and to that end, European flora such as strawberries were introduced in Mahabaleshwar, and amenities such as libraries,theatres, boating lakes, and sports grounds constructed.
Added to the scores of magnificent scenic "points", the perennial springs, streams, and waterfalls of Mahabaleshwar plateau, with its year round superb climate, drew the English and others to Mahabaleshwar. By the end of the 19th century it had become an attractive popular hill station of world renown. Raj Bhavan, the Summer residence of the Governor of Maharashtra, is also located here. An older building named "The Terraces" was purchased in 1884 and rechristened as Giri Darshan in 1886.
"Babington House", is a colonial-style bungalow built in the shape of a cross with a deep veranda, elaborate metal work railing and extensive outhouses. It was formerly one of the country seats of the Dubash family, a Parsi ship chandler dynasty from Bombay who sold it to the Rahejas in the early 1970s. It contains a central dining room with a 24-seater table and a library pavilion with 1st edition books collected by the Dubash family, notably Jamsetjee "Jimmy" Kavasjee Dubash, a bibliophile and art collector.
In old Mahabaleshwar, 7 km from Mahabaleshwar, there are many tourist points and 5 temples to see, with examples of old Indian architecture. There are also natural view points, some of them named by the 19th-century British colonial rulers.
Behind Panchganga temple, there is a small trail that leads to Krishnabai temple where the Krishna river is worshiped. It is built on the hilltop overlooking the Krishna valley and was built in 1888 by a ruler of Ratnagiri on the Konkancoast. The temple has a Shiva lingam and a beautiful statue of Krishna. A small stream of the river flowing from a cow-face (gomukh) falls on a 'Kunda' or water tank. Stone carved columns and ceilings are the special characteristics of this temple. This old temple has gathered moss and is in ruins. It is not visited much by tourists and is isolated. But it provides a most exquisite view of the river Krishna.
Named because of the natural sculpture of the stones which looks like three monkeys sitting beside each other and portraying 3 monkeys of Gandhiji. Nestled deep in the valleys one can figure out from the outline of a big stone a natural cut out it give an effect of 3 monkey sitting next to each other portraying the Three Wise Monkeys. This point is on route to Arthur's Seat
This geographical point is named after Officer Sir Arthur Malet (1806-1888) (not to be confused with British born actor of same name), who frequented the spot to gaze at the Savitri River, where he lost his wife and children in a tragic ferry mishap.
Mahabaleshwar is a holiday resort, honeymoon spot, and a pilgrimage site for Hindus. Boats on the Venna lake in Mahabaleshwar. The Venna lake is one of the tourist attractions of Mahabaleshwar. The lake is surrounded by trees. There are hotels from budget hotels to 3 Stars hotels. There are hotels with the Lake's View or in the market.
Named after Sir Leslie Wilson, the Governor of Bombay from 1923 to 1926, Wilson Point is the highest point in Mahabaleshwar at 1439 m. Known as Sindola Hill during the colonial rule, Wilson point is the only location in Mahabaleshwar where both sunrise and sunset can be seen. It offers a spectacular glance of Mahabaleshwar in all directions. It located at behind Mahabaleshwar-Medha road at 1.5 km from Mahabaleshwar city.
Pratapgad is a fort near Mahabaleshwar built by Shivaji Maharaj. It is the site of the encounter between Shivaji and Bijapur general, Afzalkhan, where the latter was defeated and killed by Shivaji Maharaj.
This waterfalls is located near Mahabaleshwar. The water here falls from a height of approximately 600 feet. The water of Lingamala waterfalls cascades into the Venna Lake. The waterfalls are divided by outward projecting rocks into multiple tiers.