Famous Places to see in Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani are one of the most popular weekend destinations because of thrill and adventure activities like trekking, hiking, boating, bird watching, rock climbing, and cave exploring to thrill seekers. Mahabaleshwar is easily accessible from Pune and Mumbai, it is 120 km away from Pune and 285 km away from Mumbai. There are luxurious Volvo and state transport buses available from both the cities. Mahabaleshwar also offers lots of quiet, undisturbed places among stunning landscapes, peace and relaxation to nature lovers.

1. Arthur’s Seat

Winters View at Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s point is at a distance of 13 km from Mahabaleshwar Bus Stand and 7 km from Old Mahabaleshwar, Arthur seat point is the most popular viewpoint in Mahabaleshwar for its grand canyon like views having Konkan on one side and Deccan on the other. Beware of Monkeys here as they can grab your food and water. Monkey grabbed our water bottle. Arthur’s Seat Point area has 6 points in total viz Arthur’s Seat Point, Echo Point, Hunter Point, Tiger Spring Point, Window Point and Malcom Point.

Timings 9 am to 8 pm

2. Babington Point

The path that leads up to this point provides a fantastic view of the land beneath. The Chinaman Waterfalls and the Koyna valley are two places that can be clearly seen from here. If you wish to spend some quiet time in Mahabaleshwar attaining peace and admiring nature, then Babington Point is the perfect place.

Timings 6 am to 6 pm

3. Bombay Point

Sunset at Bombay Point

Bombay point also famous a sunset point is at approximately 3 km distance from Mahabaleshwar bus stand. Bombay Point is the oldest point of Mahabaleshwar and named to its location on the old Bombay road. The place has a large open space with a bandstand. Sunset point here is very crowded because people can view the magnificent sunset over the valleys below at Mahabaleshwar. Many activities like Horse riding, Chaupati games are popular with the tourists at this point.

Timings 6 am to 6 pm

4. Connaught Peak

Misty Clouds at Connaught Peak

Connaught peak is located 5 km from Mahabaleshwar bus station. This peak was renamed as Connaught Peak after Duke of Connaught visited this spot, formerly it was known as Mount Olympia. This peak offers beautiful view of Venna Lake and Krishna Valley. This peak is also a vantage point for observing the Kamalgadh, Rajgarh and Torana in the north and Ajinkyatara in the south. You can see Panchgani and Pasarani Ghat in the east, while Pratapgad can be seen in the west. The nearby places that you can explore while visiting Connaught Peak are Helen’s Point, Venna Lake, Ram Mandir, Krishnabhai Temple, Falkland Point, Old Mahabaleshwar Temple, Wilson Point and Dhobi Waterfall.

Timings: 9 am to 6 pm

5. Elephant’s Head Point

The very famous Elephant head point during monsoon

Elephant’s head point is at a distance of 7 km from Mahabaleshwar Bus Stand. It is situated next to the Kate’s Point. The rock formations here are set in a way that they resemble an elephant’s head. Due to its appearance the point got its name as the Elephant’s Head Point.

Timings: 9 am to 6 pm

6. Lodwick Point

Memorial Pole at Lodwick Point

Lodwick point is at a distance of 4 km from Mahabaleshwar Bus Stand, it was previously known as Sydney Point. To honor General Lodwick’s achievement, his son erected a memorial pole of about 25 ft. There is a huge statue of Lord Lodwick situated here.

Timings: 6 am to 8 pm

7. Lingmala Falls

Lingmala Fall

Lingmala fall is located at a distance of 6 km from Mahabaleshwar bus stand and it is situated on the Mahabaleshwar – Pune Road and is sourced by the waters of Venna River. The forest bungalow of Lingmala is situated near the falls. Dhobi Waterfall and Chinaman’s waterfall are situated near the Lingmala waterfalls and best time to visit Lingmala falls is between July and December.

Entry Fee: Rs. 15 per person

Timings: 8 am to 4.30 pm

8. Wilson Point

Sunrise and Sunset at Wilson Point

Wilson point is at the distance of 2 km from Mahabaleshwar Bus Stand, its known as Sunrise point and one can experience the beautiful sunrise from this point. Wilson point is the highest point in Mahabaleshwar. The original name of the point is Sindola Hill. This point is named after Sir Leslie Wilson, the Governor of Bombay province. Wilson point is the only point in Mahabaleshwar where both sunrise and sunset can be seen.

Timings: 6 am to 8 pm

9. Dhobi waterfall

Gorgeous Dhobi Waterfall

Dhobi Waterfall is situated 3 km away from the main town of Mahabaleshwar. This waterfall is in between the lush green trails of western ghats. Best time to visit this waterfall is during monsoon otherwise the flow will be less although one can go in between and take a dip in cold water. The water streams down into the Koyna river and forms mists and rainbows magnificent gift from nature.

Timings: 6 am to 6 pm

10. Chinaman’s falls

Chinaman’s Falls is located at a distance of 2.5 km from Mahabaleshwar and are another set of waterfalls apart from the Dhobi Waterfalls that should not be missed. Chinaman’s falls offers a breathtaking sight with the water cascading down rocky mountains. This spot gives a spectacular view of the deep Koyna Valley. The best time to visit the falls is during the monsoon season.

11. Mahabaleshwar by Local Transport

Everyday government operated Mahabaleshwar Darshan bus runs at 02:30 PM to 07:00 PM covering around 13 famous points including strawberry farm. The bus is regular red bus (or sometimes semi luxury).

    Time: Every day at 02:30 PM to 07:00 PM

    Tariff: Rs. 155

    Boarding Place: Mahabaleshwar ST Bus stand (City Center)

    Booking: Max 1 day prior at Mahabaleshwar Bus Stand

    Tour Duration: 4.5 hrs

Sights covered:

    Kate’s Point, Echo Point, Needle Hole Point

    Arthur’s Seat, Window Point, Tiger Spring, Echo Point, Hunter Point, Malcom Point

    Elphinstone Point

    Old Mahabaleshwar

    Strawberry Farm

    Sunset Point (Mumbai Point)

12. Prepaid Govt Taxi Tours in Mahabaleshwar

Travelers can opt for prepaid govt approved Taxi from a taxi stand near to Mahabaleshwar bus stand. They have fixed rate packages and we found this is also a good option if you don’t have personal vehicle.

13. Stay in Mahabaleshwar

During our Airbnb Stay

There are many budget hotels and resorts available for stay. But mostly pocket friendly hotels have problem of damp walls and seepage issue due to heavy rainfall, so choose wisely. There are few good Airbnb options available for stay and resorts also, although most of the resorts are not pocket friendly, but we had a pretty good experience with cloud mist resorts. Location and views are amazing from this property and have lots of activity to do including infinity swimming pool with a view of Dhoom dam. If you are in a big group then Homestay cottages on hill top is a good option you can book it through Airbnb and other websites too.

14. Mahabaleshwar Market

Mahabaleshwar market is near to Mahabaleshwar bus stand. There is a 1 km+ road where both the sides you will find shops for handicrafts, Kashmiri blankets, shawl, leather products, footwear and many food joints in between the shops. You can buy fresh strawberries, Mapro and other companies squashes at the factory outlets rates, fruit candies, different flavored roasted chana. Nights are cold here and you can have relaxed nice time in CCD with a cup of coffee. CCD is near Mahabaleshwar bus stand.


A Memorable Road Trip To Ajanta Ellora Caves

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We were searching for a place where we can go during 15th August extended weekend in Maharashtra and which can be covered in 3 days. We had heard a lot about Ajanta, Ellora caves so zeroed down to that for a bike road trip.

Pune ->Daulatabad Fort ->Ellora ->Ghrishneshwara ->Paithan ->Ajanta ->Bibi-ka-Maqbara ->Pune

Tourist Information for Transportation:

MSRTC Red Buses are available at regular intervals from Central Bus Stand to the important tourist destinations from Aurangabad like Ajanta, Ellora, Daulatabad, etc. The frequency is good, safe and fairly comfortable though not very luxurious. Autorickshaw drivers may ask for exorbitant rates from the tourists. Make sure to ask before boarding, if the charges are based on the meter reading. In general, public transport in and around the city is fairly good.

Pune-Nagar National Highway
Pune Nagar Highway 5 in the morning

Traveller’s Guide: 

We were very excited about these world heritage sites – Ajanta and Ellora. It was our first long ride so I could not sleep well the whole night and started early while it was drizzling outside. Pune to Aurangabad distance is 250 km and roads are very nice. I was riding almost at 80 -100 kph. We had breakfast in midway and continued our journey. Within 4 hours, we reached Aurangabad. Initially, we had decided to find a place to stay but we decided to visit Daultabad Fort, Ellora caves first.

Daulatabad Fort:

Daulatabad is a 14th-century fort and was originally named Devagiri. The fort is located on the top of a hill. Chand Minar, Chini Mahal, and Baradari are must-see structures inside the fort. Don’t miss the climb to the very top through the bat cave. The cave is quite scary and stinky due to bats. We spend good 3 hours there and then headed towards Ellora caves which are 13 km away from Daulatabad fort.

Enroute to Daulatabad Fort
En Route to Daulatabad
Daulatabad Fort
Daulatabad Fort Entrance
Chand Minar at Daulatabad Fort
Chand Minar
Daulatabad Fort
Top of the Fort

Ellora Caves:

As we saw the Ellora caves panoramic view, it was like wow! There are around 30+ caves to visit! These caves consist of 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves. Few of the very famous caves in Ellora are “Vishwakarma cave” (cave 10), tantric Buddhist goddesses are carved in cave 12. Largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world dedicated to “SHIVA” named Kailash temple (Cave-16) and Goddess Ganga at the entrance of Ellora Cave 21. You have to walk quite a lot to visit all the caves. We got so tired while we had just covered 20 out of 34.

Kailash Temple at Ellora Caves
Kailash Temple at Ellora Caves
Life Size Sculpture of Elephants In Kailash Temple
Lifesize Sculptures of Elephants in Kailash Temple
Mahabharat Story Carved on the Walls of Kailash Temple
Mahabharat Story Carved on the Walls of Kailash Temple
Buddha in the main room of the temple of Vishvakarma (cave 10)
Buddha in the main temple of Vishvakarma (cave 10)

If a visitor has at his disposal three to four hours, then the Cave nos. 10 (Visvakarma Cave), 16 (Kailasa), 21 (Ramesvara) and 32 & 34 (Jaina group of caves) should not be missed. Thus, by visiting these caves, one can have a glimpse of the Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism art and architecture. If a visitor has an entire day at his disposal, the Cave nos. 2, 5, 10 & 12 of the Buddhist group; Cave nos. 14, 15, 16, 21 & 29 of the Brahmanical group and Caves 32 to 34 of the Jaina group should be visited.

Entry Open from sunrise to sunset and Closed on Tuesday.

  • Entrance Fee: Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) – Rs. 30 per head and children up to 15 years free.
  • Others: Rs. 500/- per head
Front View of Ellora Caves
Front View of Ellora Caves
Ellora Caves
Ellora Caves
Carved Shiva Parvathi Panel From the Kailash Temple (Cave 16)
Carved Shiva Panel From the Kailash Temple (Cave 16)
Panoramic View of Ellora Caves
Panoramic View of Ellora Caves

The paintings on the ceiling and walls depict a lot of stories, incidents. Many of them are quite damaged due to negligence I believe. The weather can be dramatic too in the Deccan plateau. With lots of rainfall for good 3 – 4 months, preservation can be little tricky. But we did saw restoration work going on in lots of caves. They have installed nets everywhere so that bats can’t enter inside

Immaculate Paintings on Roof,Pillars and Walls In Ellora Caves
Immaculate Paintings on Roof, Pillars, and Walls In Ellora Caves
Paintings in Ellora Caves
Paintings in Ellora Caves
Ellora Caves
Nets Installed to Prevent Bats to get Inside the Caves

It was 3:30 pm and near to Ellora caves there is one Shiva’s temple named “Ghrishneshwara” which is also one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines. I had heard a lot about this temple. A few years back they have allowed women to visit the main temple but still, females cannot touch the main “Shiva linga”. This temple is an illustration of south Indian temple architectural style and structure. It was fully crowded and we waited for two hours for our turn to get into the main temple. Males have to remove their upper clothes, without this, you cannot enter in the main premises. After darshan, we were very tired due to travelling and site seeing. We decided to go back to Aurangabad to find a place to stay. We enquired a few hotels to stay. We found a good place but surprisingly he asked us to show marriage certificate or an id proof where my spouse last name matched with my last name. After a good warm discussion, we left that place and settled in another nearby hotel. Hotels are not very costly here in 1000 Rs you can get a good place to stay.

Now it was time to taste the local food. In our list, one of them was “Gayatri chat bandhar” at Gulmandi road near Kranti chowk which is very famous to serve excellent deep fried snacks like Kachoris, Samosas and Mong bhajji. Hot and freshly prepared in front of you on a ‘Chulha’ (clay oven). Kranti Chowk and Gulmandi are the oldest roadside eateries in the town. You will found many other eating joints here Bikaner bhujiyavala, Omkar pav bhaji, Indian grilled chicken varieties like Chicken Tikka, Tandoori, Kebabs, etc. at Connaught Gardens. There is plenty of veg, non-veg and multi-cuisine restaurant available for lunch and dinner at Nirala Bazaar and Jalna road.

Ajanta Caves:

Next day morning, we started early as we wanted to reach Ajanta caves by sharp 9 am which is 100 km away from Aurangabad city centre. The roads were too bad, it took me almost 3 hours to ride 100 km but still, we managed to reach at 10 am. At one place you have to park your vehicle and from there you will get a special CNG bus. That bus will drop you near to the caves. Considering, these caves have very exotic paintings; the management wants to keep the pollution at minimal. It was a short bus ride between a few hills.

Ajanta Caves Description
Look at the Horse Shoe Arrangement of Caves at Ajanta
View of Ajanta Caves
View of Ajanta Caves

As per our experience with Ellora, we were prepared that we will have to walk a lot and our thought was correct. We found Ajanta tougher than Ellora. There are 29 caves in Ajanta caves. Ajanta caves include paintings and rock cut sculptures which describe finest examples of ancient Indian art. At Ajanta, the paintings on the walls, illustrate the events in the life of Prince Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism and in the more popular Jatakas stories pertaining to Buddha’s previous incarnation. Colours used for the wall paintings were made from pebbles and vegetable found on the hillside. The guide will show you the pebbles of different Colors, these were crushed and ground and then mixed with glue. The main colours used were; red ochre, yellow ochre, brown ochre, lamp black, white and blue.

Inside View of Painted Caves, Ajanta
Inside View of Painted Caves
Indian painting of Vajrapāṇi Bodhisattva
Indian painting of Vajrapāṇi Bodhisattva
Painted Wooden Structures on the Ceiling in Ajanta Caves
Painted Wooden Structures on the Ceiling

Various incidents from the life of Gautam Buddha and the Jataka Tales are represented and recreated on the walls of these caves. Scenes from the royal court of the respective eras are also painted. Through his life, Buddha was against the idea of sculpting and painting images of him. However, after Buddha’s death, his followers who wanted to worship him decided to paint his images so that they had something to hold on to while spreading the faith and teachings of the Buddha. At the entrance of the first of Ajanta caves, you will be greeted by a tall image of the Buddha. The doorway to the cave is decorated with auspicious motifs and the cave has numerous sculptures and paintings of Bodhisattvas Padmapani and Vajrapani, carvings of princesses, lovers, maids and dancing girls; scenes depicting the Persian Embassy, Golden Geese, Pink Elephants and Bull Fights. Though the caves are over 2,000 years old, the Buddha statues had been added close to 600 years later.

Reclining Buddha, Cave 26
Reclining Buddha, Cave 26
Buddha in Ajanta Caves
Majestic Buddha
Carved Pillars inside Caves
Carved Pillars inside Caves
Pathway Around the Stupa
Pathway Around the Stupa
Monolithic Carved Pillars in Ajanta Caves
Monolithic Carved Pillars in Caves

Caves  9, 10, 12, 13 and 15A belongs to the tradition of Buddhism and Caves 19, 26, and 29 are grihas, the rest viharas (where a large number of devotees can rest) and other caves are extensions to the tradition of Buddhism. Notable point – You cannot use direct flash from the camera or mobile to capture paintings or coloured carvings. It is guided there and in every cave, you will see a person to guide you on this. They have special lights installed in the caves which I believe not harmful to the exotic interiors.

There are lots of eating joints and shops selling handicrafts in Ajanta near to the parking areas so you can have your lunch.  An MTDC resort is also very close by the Ajanta caves. There are many other small restaurants and dhabas available on the way to Aurangabad. People who are interested in most famous paithan silk saris (Saris which have embroidered gold or silver borders and peacocks) can visit on the way outlets or they can visit a place called Paithan which is 35 km from Aurangabad.

Bibi Ka Maqbara:

So by 3 pm, we were back to the Aurangabad main town and after an hour of rest we decided to visit “Bibi ka Maqbara” which is known as a poor man’s “Taj Mahal”. At first sight, it looks like a copy of “Taj Mahal” although it’s not as beautiful as “Taj Mahal” while the structure almost match. Bibi-Ka-Maqbara is a beautiful monument of Dilras Banu Begum, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. This monument was constructed by Prince Azam Shah in memory of his mother in 1600 centuries. This monument is in the typical Mughal Char-Bagh pattern which adorns its beauty and splendour through its symmetry and excellent garden layout. The half structure of this monument has used Marble stone and other recesses are divided by pilasters, crowned with small minarets. Hence it’s a poor copy of “Taj Mahal”. If you have seen the Taj Mahal already, you can observe a striking difference between the two.

Bibi ka Maqbara Main Gate
Bibi ka Maqbara Main Gate

The main entrance gate is beautifully carved and has a photogenic design. After passing through the entrance, a small tank is provided and a low profile screen wall leads to the main structure. The screened pathway has a series of fountains at its centre, which adds to further the serene atmosphere. Bibi Ka Maqbara has featured in a number of documentaries and films as well. We would suggest to include this monument as a must visit the place after Ajanta, Ellora.

Bibi ka Maqbara, Aurangabad
Bibi ka Maqbara
Fountain Pathway to the Mausoleum
Fountain Pathway to the Mausoleum
Bibi ka Maqbara
The Plastered Beauty, Poor Man’s Taj Mahal

There are two other sites (Mahesmahal and Lonar) in 100 -150 km distance from Aurangabad which we did not complete due to the time crunch. But if you have one day more, you may include these spots as well. This 3-day road journey was very satisfying since we got to experience and see lots of different places. A fort, tons of UNESCO caves, a temple, a mausoleum. With lots of memories and aching feet, we came back to Pune the next day to get back to our corporate lives. 😛

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