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Mahabaleshwar Travel Guide:

Introduction
Mahabaleshwar is a city and a municipal council in Satara district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is a hill station located in the Western Ghats range. With one of the few evergreen forests of the world, it served as the summer capital of Bombay province during the British Raj.

History
The first historical mention of Mahabaleshwar dates back to year 1215 when the King Singhan of Deogiri visited Old Mahabaleshwar. He built a small temple and water tank at the source of the river Krishna. Around 1350, a Brahmin dynasty invaded this area. In the middle of the 16th century the Maratha family of Chandarao More defeated the brahmin dynasty and became rulers of Jaoli and Mahabaleshwar, during which period the temple of Old Mahabaleshwar was rebuilt.

In the 17th century Shivaji Maharaj took over Jaoli and Mahabaleshwar and constructed the Pratapgad fort in 1656.

In 1819, the British included the hills in the territory of the Raja of Satara. Col. Lodwick (Late General Sir ) stationed at Satara, in April 1824 with a contingent of soldiers and Indian guides climbed up the mountain face reaching what is now known as the Lodwick Point.

Starting with Sir John Malcolm in 1828, a succession of them from Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone, Arthur Malet (for whom the seat at "Point Arthur" is named), Carnac, Frere and many others became regular visitors.

Present day Mahabaleshwar came into existence in the year 1829-30. In old records it is mentioned as Malcolm Peth, but in practise today it is known as Mahabaleshwar.

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 like honey bees to sweet nectar. 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.

"Babington House", a magnificent colonial-style bungalow built in the shape of a cross with a deep varanda, elaborate metal work railing and extensive outhouses is considered Mahableshwar's most beautiful country house.
It was formerly one of the principal 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 cental dining room with a 24-seater table and a lovely library pavilion with 1st edition books collected by the Dubash family, notably Jamsetjee "Jimmy" Kavasjee Dubash, a great bibliophil and art collector.

Demographics
As of 2001 India census,Mahabaleshwar had a population of 12,736. Males constitute 55% of the population and females 45%. Mahabaleshwar has an average literacy rate of 78%, higher than the national average of 65%: male literacy is 84%, and female literacy is 71%. In Mahabaleshwar, 11% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Location of Mahabaleshwar
Mumbai - 252 km via Pune and 225 km via Panvel-Pen-Mahad-Poladpur (approx 6 hours)
Pune - 120 km (3 hours)
Sangli - 165 km (3.5 hours)
Satara - 55 km (1.5 hours)
Bangalore - 782 km (12 hours)

You can reach Mahabaleshwar by taking MSRTC or Private Luxury Buses from Mumbai, Pune, Sangli and Satara. National Highway NH4 is the nearest National Highway to reach Mahabaleshwar.

Nearest Railway Stations
Satara - 58 km
Veer (Konkan Railway) - 70 km
Pune - 120 km
Miraj railway junction - 169 km
Sangli - 165 km

You can reach Mahabaleshwar by taking cabs or private cars from the above railway stations.

Nearest Airport
Pune - 120 km
Mumbai - 260 km

Tourism
Today, Mahabaleshwar is a popular holiday resort and honeymoon spot, and an important pilgrimage site for Hindus. It is the site of Mahabaleshwar Temple. Many tourists visit nearby Panchgani. After the construction of a new highway, it is only a five-hour drive from Mumbai. Mahabaleshwar is also known for the honey and strawberries produced here. One can visit strawberry farms to enjoy the real flavour of the fruit. It is said that the climate of Mahabaleshwar is ideal for Strawberries and Mulberries. One can also get a taste of "Strawberries with Cream" (season:Jan -Feb) or "Mulberries with Cream" (season: April–May).
Boats on the Venna lake in Mahabaleshwar.

The Venna lake is one of the major tourist attractions of Mahabaleshwar. The lake is surrounded by trees on all sides. A late winter evening boat ride through the slight fog is well appreciated. Tourists can enjoy a boat ride over the lake or a horse ride next to the lake. A number of small eateries line the banks of the lake. The Mahabaleshwar city market and the S.T. bus stand is about 2KM from the lake and makes for a nice walk during the day. Most tour operators include the Venna lake in their tours. Most buses, private vehicles will stop at the Venna lake on their way to Mahabaleshwar on request.

With another popular and scenic hill resort Panchgani in close vicinity (about 20KM), most tourists often visit both places together. The 'Table-Land' phenomenon of nature at Panchgani is breath-taking.