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Mahabaleshwar a hillstation in Maharashtra

Friday, November 14, 2014

After visiting Pratapgad it was now time for some lunch. 
View from Needle Point
We headed to the market place outside the ST bus depot to grab some lunch. All that we could see is Veg Restaurants all around. The time was 1:30 PM on my watch and we didn't want to waste time searching for a place to eat.
Panoramic View from Needle Point
We immediately settled down to have Punjabi Thali at one of the restaurants. Can't recollect the name of it. But it took us thirty minutes to get served. The time was already 2:00 PM on my watch. 
Elephant's Head
Now we had to eat quickly else we had to miss our bus ride. The lunch was amazing and we had a great time eating it. All this just for the price of Rs. 175 each. 
Needle's Point
We were done at 2:20 PM. We raced to the ST Bus Depot to board the Mahabaleshwar Darshan bus. Nick of Time. No sooner did we enter the bus, did the conductor take a final call of the passengers and we started off for the points. 
Balakwadi dam
The bus traveled on the narrow lanes of Mahabaleshwar. Again there was dense forestation on either side of the road. So there was a continuous clash of the trees and the bus. The bus survived 
and moved on. These are State Transport buses and the Driver doesn't give a damm. Had it been a private car, it would have got plenty of scratches on it. 
Me at Kate's Point
The moment we reached the point. The conductor announced that we have 20 minutes to see these points and that we need to be back on time, else we will have to cut a couple of points as we need to be present at Sunset Point at 5:30 PM. The time on my watch was now 2:55 PM. 
Krishna Devi Temple
The first set of points that we visited was Kate`s Point, Echo Point, Needle's Point and Elephant's Head. Though the view is amazing, all four points offer a panoramic view of the place. Not sure as to why the different names were given. Again along with us there was a huge crowd to see the panoramic view which these points had to offer. The Balakwadi dam can be viewed from here.
Step water well at Krishna Devi Temple
We spotted two camels here. Looking at their state I didn't want to snap them nor sit on them. They were in bad condition. Not sure why they were even there. 

Refreshments and snacks are available here. 

After getting some amazing snaps of the hills, valleys and the river we decided to move on to our next set of points.
Cow carved in stone with spout
On the way the bus stopped by Strawberry Valley. A farm where strawberry is grown on a large scale. They have acres of land just for farming of strawberries. Here is a photo of strawberry farming. 
The crop is grown for six months. Each of these saplings get a white flower which gets converted to a strawberry. Process looks quite tedious. We were then invited to taste some strawberry ice cream. To which everyone jumped to have one. Later they were informed that they had to shell out Rs.50 for each. There was grinding of teeth then. LOL.
Krishna Devi Temple
We then headed off to see Kshetra Mahabaleshwar (Old Mahabaleshwar). It comprises of temples. We had a total of thirty minutes here. We started off with Krishna Devi Temple. We had to walk on a muddy trail for around seven minutes to reach the temple.
Another view of Krishna Devi Temple
The temple made of black stone is truly beautiful. It stands on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Krishna River which flows from below. The pillars of the temple were beautifully carved. There was a beautiful stone sculpture in the shape of a cow, It has a spout in it's mouth from which water flows. I believe it is the water from river Krishna. Many visited it to taste the water. We didn't visit the 
temple from the inside as we were short of time and headed off to see the other temples. 
Another view of Krishna Devi Temple
The other three temples are located close to each other. The Panchganga Temple and Shiva Temple. Not sure as to what is the name of the third temple.
Temple in Kshetra Mahabaleshwar
The Panchganga Temple. Panchganga means Five Gangas. This temple is supposed to be the originator of Rivers Krishna, Gayatri, Savitri, Koyna and Venna. Not sure as to who had built them but they were renovated in Shivaji's era. The temple premises have got five spouts over which are carved the heads of cows in stone. The rivers flow in different direction. 
Cow's carved in stone
Next is Shiva Temple, photography is strictly prohibited in temple premises. We didn't visit the temple as there was already a huge crowd waiting in line to visit it. 

The stone used in the construction of these temples was not as old as the one at Krishna Devi Temple. So I believe these were renovated or built later.
Temple in Kshetra Mahabaleshwar
After visiting the temples we sat in the bus to visit the next set of points in Mahabaleshwar. The time was now 4:50 PM on my watch. 
Panchganga Temple
Arthur Seat Point, Echo Point, Hunter Point, Tiger Spring Point, Window Point and Malcom Point. These points were over crowded and all wanted to take photos. We were getting irritated with the 
behavior of the crowd.
View from Arthur Point
The best one is the Arthur Seat Point. It offers a amazing view of the River Savatri, to which he (Sir Arthur Malet) had lost his wife and children. Lord Arthur used to come and sit here and look at 
the river. The point offers a panoramic view of the hill ranges around and also the deep valleys within them. This point is also called as the Queen of the Points.
View from Arthur Point
The Tiger Spring Point. It is believed that animals from the jungle used to visit this place to drink fresh water from the hills. Currently it is visited more by humans and not animals. Had some water 
here, it is truely refreshing.

Next we visited the Hunter Point. The British used to hunt for animals here. This is what the signboard says. 
Lady distributing water at Tiger Spring Point
Next we visited Malcom Point. From here one can view Arthur Seat, Torana Garh Fort, Pratapgad Fort and Savitri Valley. As it was hazy outside we couldn't locate the Pratapgad Fort and Torana Garh Fort. Arthur Seat was clearly visible from here and so was the Savitri Valley.

As the weather was hazy I was not sure if we could get a good view of the sunset. We were supposed to see Sunset Point next.These points are again located very close to each other and so the view is more or less the same. 
Arthur Point
Again there are plenty of monkeys here so be careful of handbags and other belongings.

There is also a mini market here, which serves snacks and cold drinks and my favorite Gola and handmade ice creams.
View from Arthur Point
We then headed off to see the Sunset Point. Though the weather was hazy but all that had cleared and we got some amazing views of the sunset. The view of the sun setting among st the hills was refreshing to my eyes and the sound of bird's chirping in a distance was soothing to my ears.
View from Arthur Point
Finally it turned dark and it was time for us to sit in the bus and head back to Mahabaleshwar ST Bus Depot. In 20 minutes we were there. Though the time was just 6:15 PM on my watch, it had turned dark already. Winter had set in. Nights would be longer that the Days. 
View from Arthur Point
We then headed off to the ST stand to inquire if there are any buses to go to Panchgani. The Inquiry desk informed us that any bus plying to Pune or Wai would drop us to Panchgani. They also 
informed us that there are no Panchgani Darshan buses and that we would have to travel by taxi there. Also as Panchgani was a smaller hill station in comparison to Mahabaleshwar we were not sure if we would get a place to stay there for the night.
View from Arthur Point
Now we had to make a decision, as to either go to Panchgani or Mumbai. Panchgani had a total of five points to see. The bus to Mumbai was to leave at 2:30 PM and 3:00 PM. Not sure if we would be able to visit all those points. I overhead some talking about a flash taxi strike. That too on the weekend, so the taxi fares would be soaring high. This influenced my decision to return to Mumbai. 
Look's like there are two sun's in the sky
Now where would be get a bus to Mumbai. We checked with the private bus providers. No bus to Mumbai. I guess we had to stay in Mahabaleshwar for the night. We decided to visit the ST bus depot to check on buses to Mumbai the next day. What should I say, luck by chance. There was a bus to Mumbai waiting to depart in 10 minutes. We sat in the bus and headed to Mumbai. 
View from Sunset Point
Finally reached Mumbai at 4:00 AM the next morning after a rocking journey in our very own bus (Lal Dabba). 
Sunset at Sunset Point
Please do not ask me for the cost of lodging as we didn't stay here for the night.
Hill ranges at Sunset Point
We couldn't visit Wilson Point (Sunrise Point). So we decided that we would do it when we visit Wai and Panchgani.


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