Mahabaleshwar Monsoon Bliss: A scenic retreat to the hills

Panchgani is at an altitude of 1,334 meters and Mahabaleshwar is 1,372 m above sea level, in the Satara district of Maharashtra

By Beyniaz Edulji  Published on  17 Jun 2024 2:30 AM GMT
Mahabaleshwar Monsoon Bliss: A scenic retreat to the hills

Hyderabad: The majesty of hills, especially tourist spots, never ceases to amaze people. Their allure lies in something that’s told and untold, seen and unseen.

This can be seen during the monsoon season in Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar

Location and travel

Panchgani is at an altitude of 1,334 meters and Mahabaleshwar is 1,372 m above sea level, in the Satara district of Maharashtra.

Wathar is the nearest railway station but the easiest route to reach these hill stations is via the city of Pune. Pune is 100 km from Panchgani and 120 km from Mahabaleshwar. Taxis and buses run several times a day from Pune.

Monsoon travel

Monsoons are the time many of us look forward to travel. What better than going for a long drive to enjoy the rain? Many discerning Hyderabadis take the long seven-hour drive to Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar just to eat and relax.

These hill stations also have some of the oldest and best boarding schools in India. The best time to visit Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar is in the monsoons when the waterfalls and streams are particularly beautiful. Light woollens should be taken along.

We were eagerly looking forward to our trip to Panchgani by road. We started from home in Secunderabad at 5 am and were in Panchgani by lunchtime. The scenery on the Ghats leading to the hill station was spectacular. The road was carved out of sheer granite and many little streams were trickling down the hillsides. The clean air and beautiful surroundings had worked up an appetite and we put away the three-course lunch with ease.


After a short nap, we were raring to go and explore the little town of Panchgani.

Panchgani is named after the five hills that surround it and from almost every viewpoint we can see the River Krishna flowing across little hamlets and fields. The Sydney Point overlooked the Dhom Dam and was a very pleasant spot to stop and have corn roasted over charcoal.

The marketplace was full of interesting shops selling footwear, bags, wooden handicrafts, jams, bottles of honey, chocolate fudge and the famous roasted Panchgani gram and chikki. A short uphill drive took us to Table Mountain, which covers one square km of area. The place was buzzing with activity.

Ferris wheels, game stalls, horse rides and food stalls selling corn patties made up the carnival-like atmosphere here. The peculiarly named Devil’s Kitchen nearby is where the Pandavas are said to have rested and cooked a meal.

Old bungalows

The chirping of birds woke us up the next morning. A short trek around our hotel made us discover many paths made by trekkers and horses.

We did justice to the whole strawberry jam and fresh cream, eggs and kheema pav that were served to us for breakfast. Most old Parsi-owned bungalows have been converted into heritage hotels and resorts and they rent out rooms and little cottages on a per person per day basis. The food served here is generally fit for a King. A drive took us past many Boarding schools and British Bungalows that were more than a century old.


The 20-km drive to the town of Mahabaleshwar from Panchgani took us on a narrow road with spectacular scenery on both sides.

We stopped at Parsi Point to view the Krishna Valley quite a distance below. Factory outlets selling jams, crushes, jellies, jelly sweets, preserves and honey dotted the road between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. Viewpoints with telescopes, little restaurants serving strawberries and cream, guides offering their services and listing out the films shot there and face readers and astrologers who seemed to pop up everywhere just to make uncanny predictions were all part of the holiday experience!

Venna Lake

The pretty Venna Lake at the entrance of Mahabaleshwar had boats full of tourists. The main marketplace of Mahabaleshwar was a delight for bargain lovers like me.

The bread baskets, wooden bowls and spoons on sale were handcrafted. I bought many pairs of handmade shoes, sandals and a few bags for good measure! Things to do here are boating, trekking, fishing and horse riding.

Mahabaleshwar Temple

We next visited the Mahabaleshwar Temple in Old Mahabaleshwar which is said to be the source of the River Krishna. The cold stream of water flowing from the mouth of the cow was the beginning of River Krishna, which is also joined by Rivers Koyna, Venna, Savitri and Gayatri. The old temple with its cold stone floor was incredibly beautiful.

Scenic viewpoints

Mahabaleshwar has over 30 viewpoints.

Elphinstone Point was a lovely picnic spot. At Arthur’s Seat, clouds passed where we were standing at the height of 1,470 m.

Kate’s point had a spectacular view of waterfalls and valleys. Wilson’s point is called Sunrise Point but when we reached there it was just in time to see the sunset and we gasped at the gorgeous view.

Near Arthur’s Seat, an old guide who seemed to hardly be able to stand, manoeuvred his way over slippery stones to show us Tiger’s Stream where tigers and panthers are still spotted but we were out of luck on that rainy day. Lodwick Point nearby is also called Elephant’s Head as the hill looks like an elephant’s head and trunk.

The drive to the Venna, Dhobi, Lingmala and Chinaman’s waterfalls, were through wooded hills and dense forests. The valleys in between were full of sweetly scented wildflowers and we promised ourselves that we would be back here soon.

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