Due to its high altitude, the town has a cool climate and offers many pleasant walks. There are several lookout points which offer spectacular views of the surrounding hills and valleys. There is an old Shiva temple in the forest, which is the source of five rivers, including the Krishna river which is the second longest river of peninsular India. It is a very good place to visit.
Mahabaleshwar is visited by many thousands of tourists every year. It is well connected by bus with the important towns of the region. There are numerous hotels for every budget. The peak season is March-May; it rains very heavily from June to September.
Mahabaleshwar is extremely famous for strawberries, accounting for 85% of the strawberry production in India.
Mahabaleshwar is easily accessible from Pune and Mumbai. You can take a tourist bus (Volvo) from Mumbai, departing from Dadar East, Sion or Vashi. The ride will take you 6 hours and will cost around ₹1500. An ordinary AC bus will cost ₹200. The Volvo bus from Pune is operated by private companies (Neeta and Konduskar), and they charge approx ₹400 each way. The Govt. Express bus from Swargate starting 5:45AM and every hour with a price of ₹120 per individual. Private cab tours to Mahabaleshwar from Pune and Mumbai are operated by Vasa Cabs.
- 1 Bus station.
Mahabaleshwar is about 120 km by car from Pune, and 247 km from Mumbai.
From Mumbai, the trip takes about 5 to 6 hours if traveling via Panvel through Mahad and Poladpur. A better option is to take the Mumbai-Pune expressway and the highway onwards from Pune to Satara; this route is 40 km longer but only takes 5 hours, and has easier driving (the road is straighter). You have to get off this highway at a place called Sirur and then travel via Wai and Panchgani to Mahabaleshwar.
On arriving by car, the Municipal council charges a fee of ₹50 per head, which is collected on entry points to the town and is valid for seven days. The Panchgani Municipal council also charges an entrance of ₹50 per vehicle if you are just passing through on your way to Mahabaleshwar. Pune to Mahabaleshwa Car rental service is avaliable 24 hours.
You can also reach Satara by train from Mumbai or Bangalore. Mahabaleshwar is 47 km from Satara and takes little more than one hour from there.
Time of arrival
Try to arrive here in the morning because most of the hotels have a check-in time of 9AM. If you arrive later you may have to wait until another room becomes vacant.
You can get latest timetable for buses for Mahabaleshwar here.
Mahabaleshwar is built on a plateau and getting around is quite easy. Taxis (cabs) and buses leave from the center of town near Irani's petrol pump opposite the Club. Taxi drivers charge only ₹50 for ferrying at local places within or around New Mahabaleshwar. Taxi service for sightseeing or local ferrying is centrally regulated with the office opposite the gate to the Govt Bus Stand.
The main destinations are the "points", named after prominent British administrators who found these splendid locations with unbeatable views. The points are located at various edges of the plateau in different directions. Rental cars and taxis can get there quickly. Over the years, most people hire a car from wherever they are coming from to conveniently go around the points. The roads are narrow and not well maintained. Expect extremely heavy traffic and jams all over if you are visiting over the weekend or a public holiday. Parking lots are non existent near the points and so cars are parked along the road side making it even more difficult to reach the points. For the more adventurous, horses are available in town and there are lovely shady bridle paths for delightful rides. The best way to get around is by bus which is provided by Govt. You can book ticket prior day only. Cost is around ₹80-85 per person. Govt. Bus has two tour, one is Pratapgad darshan in morning 9:15AM and Mahabaleshwar darshan in noon 2:15PM (4 hours covering 11 Points Arthur, Kate, Strawberry farm and finally ending with Sunset, a semi-luxury bus 37 seats. The driver speaks only in Marathi with some Hindi. During off-season there is only one bus but during season three buses ply on this Darshan. Beware of monkeys.) They are best.
Although there are close to 25 'Points' in Mahabaleshwar, lots of these points would give you the same view (of mountains/valley) from a slightly different angle. The following are a must:
- 1 Arthur's Seat. One of the most popular spots. You can park at Savitri point, just 300 m away, and walk to Arthur's seat point, with several other points along the way. Castle Rock point is also nearby. There are lot of eateries at the entrance. There is also a Sulabh toilet but don't expect cleanliness, lights and doors inside. There are no toilets available at other points on the way and you may be hours away from the next one.
- 2 Babington Point.
- 3 Bombay Point (Sunset Point).
- Elephant's head Point.
- 4 Kate's Point.
- Lingamala Falls. Best viewed from behind Surya Resort.
- Lodwick Point.
- 5 Wilson Point.
- Shri Kshetra Mahabaleshwar (Old Mahabaleshwar). It is 8 km from new Mahabaleshwar, north side from S.T. Stand of the Mahabaleshwar. It is a holy place of lord Shiva. Also there is UGAM (Origin) of the rivers- Krishna, Savitri, Venna, Gayatri and Koyna,
- Pratapgad. A fort near Mahabaleshwar built by Shivaji Maharaj.
- 6 Venna Lake. One of the major tourist attractions of Mahabaleshwar. The lake is surrounded by trees and offers opportunities for the visitor such as boating or horse back riding. Many local eateries and hotels can be found in the area.
- A must see is a water well in the heart of market in the compound of the Library which is almost 150 years old. It still provides water to locals and is some 100 feet deep.
- Boating. Visit lake Venna for a ride on paddle or rowing boat. You may ride boat on your own or, alternatively, you can hire one. It is a beautiful and scenic lake. The paddle boats are stopped during the monsoon season (June to September), so you have to do with the rowing boat.
- Horse Riding.
- Tapola. About 50 km from Mahabaleshwar. Tourists can enjoy boating. There are many scenic view points and strawberry farms on the way.
- Trekking. There are many many trekking trails around the hills of Mahabaleshwar. Ask your hotel for the nearest trekking trail
- Watch Sunrise and Sunsets. Go to Wilson Point or Kate's Point to watch beautiful sunrises, and to Bombay Point or Elphinstone Point to see glowing sunsets.
- Play poker
The Bazaar is in the center of town and consists of a pedestrian-only street with shops selling everything from fancy locally-made walking sticks to snacks and the specialty of the region - roasted chickpea nuts. At the far end of the bazaar stands a Mahabaleshwar institution, Imperial Stores, owned and run by generations of the Irani family. Here you can get anything from videos to provisions to ice cream to beer.
- Honey. There are a variety of local brands of honey available in the bazaar.
- Leather Footwear. One can buy the famous Kolhapuri slippers, shoes and sandals in the bazaar.
- Mapro Foods, Kushal Kunj, Chesson Road, Panchgani, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. These products are made from natural friuts and herbs and are not available outside Maharashtra.
Strawberries, mulberries and carrots are the specialties of Mahabaleshwar. One should not forget to try the Corn grown locally available in both roasted and boiled form. Corn pattice made from it is delicious. The food prepared with local vegetables has a unique taste and one should also try the small tomatoes which look like cherries! Don't forget to have the staple food of Maharashtra, the Vada Pav, which is deliciously prepared by the local vendor next to the Hanuman Temple in the main market.
Almost all the hotels have their own restaurants. Hotel DreamLand, Hotel Panaroma, and Hotel Shreyas have nice restaurants and good food, and all three are close to the State Bus stand. Many hotels, like Hotel Regal, Bharat Hotel and Hotel Rajesh, serve a buffet meal in a platter, also known as the 'Gujarati thali'. However, eating at the hotels you stay is excessively costly.It is advisable to take meals at other restaurants as an outsider. Hotel Panorama, which is just behind the Govt Bus Stand, offers good quality veg food at reasonable cost.
- Hotel Center Point. Located in main market. Though prices are on slightly higher end, provides food with good taste.
- Hotel Templeview - Vegetarian restaurant at old Mahabaleshwar for excellent parathas Rajasthani favorites. Hotel Woodland is another good option.
- Mapro Garden. Mapro garden restaurant offers a decent menu. Most of the tourist vehicles stop here, on their way to Mahabaleshwar. This place has clean restrooms and large dining area. Refresh yourself here because rest of the Mahabaleshwar public points hardly have any restrooms, let alone clean ones. The self service counters are prompt in serving your orders. Pizza, soups, sandwich, ice creams are some of the good offerings. They also have a retail outlet for Mapro products offering a large variety of crush, jams and candies.
- Strawberries. Buy the 'sweet charlie' variety of strawberries from the main Mahabaleshwar Market. Alternatively, you can also venture out into interior parts to handpick your berries from the strawberry farms.
- Beer. Generally restaurants here do not serve liquor, except beer, but a few places close to the State Bus Stand, like Hotel Shreyas have it on menu. You can buy all the liquor you want from Imperial Stores.
- Milk Shakes. The most popular drink, available at most restaurants, is strawberry milk shake. You can add a blob of strawberry ice-cream for some added flavour
Never go to Old Mahabaleshwar for accommodation; it's better to stay near the bus stand. However, the Old City is better if you want to enjoy nature or the calm of the forest.
- Citrus Chambers Mahabaleshwar hotel (Two minutes distance from the Main market). Nice views
- The Dina Hotel, Lake Road (Overlooking Lake), ☏ . A family-run heritage hotel with well-furnished rooms with en-suite bathrooms & TV. Enjoy views of the lake on the balcony as you sip your tea. Veg & non-veg dining. ₹2300.
- Durwankur Cottage, Ganesh Housing Society, Off Mahabaleshwar Market, - 412 806, ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. The most affordable cottage in Mahabaleshwar. Clean and comfortable. 500-1500.
- Frederick Hotel. Quiet, with a wonderful valley view, spacious rooms, and good food
- Hotel Girivihar (Near market), ☏ . Check-in: 9AM, check-out: 8AM. Serves good Maharashtrian food. Clean and comfortable place to stay. Friendly staff. 2500.
- 1 Hotel Rajesh, ✉ email@example.com. Centrally located pure vegetarian hotel with 70 centrally air conditioned rooms and 20 non airconditioned rooms. Parking, pool with waterfall, gym, childrens' play park with mini train.
- 2 Hotel Templeview. Surrounded by the jungle, gives a true feeling of wilderness. Rooms are just about okay. Food is fine. Some parts of resort building are about 125 years old. The cottages have three large sized rooms and a large bathroom & dressing area with respect to the price paid. The food and service are good.
- Ramsukh, Old Mahabaleshwar, 7 km away. Nice 3 star place
These hotels can cut a few more bucks from your wallet and these cost in range of ₹3,000-5,000 per night, depending on season.
- Hotel Gautam. India's first ecotel hotel.
- Hotel Saket Plaza.
- Ravine Hotel. The only 3-star hotel in Panchgani.
- Sherwood Hotel, Blue Valley Ride, Off Satara Road, - 412 806. Tel: 02168 - 270070 / 77 / 99, ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. Excellent hotel - superb location and parsi food right in the middle of the jungle - best views in the hill station, but high end tariff. ₹3000.
- Surya Retreat. Rooms pointing to valley, great view, open swimming pool.
- 3 Valley View. Includes gym, indoor swimming pool, garden with view of valley, and good 3-star service.
- Nashik - An ancient holy city. About 210 Km from Pune.
- Shirdi - A town in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. There are many buses connecting Pune to Shirdi (200 km, 5 hour ride). Shirdi was where the saint Sai Baba lived till his samadhi in 1918. Today, it is a pilgrimage center and millions of his devotees from all over the world come each year to pay their respects.