Cover Photo by Rajkumar Vachhani
Maharashtra’s most popular hill station, Mahabaleshwar, is a place of sheer nostalgia for Punekars and Mumbaikars who have spent many-a vacation in their childhood. Known for having a welcoming atmosphere all year round, booking the Mahabaleshwar tour package of your choice should not be hard. However, it is advised to have a solid itinerary that allows you to customise your journey according to your preference. One of the most appealing aspects of travelling to Mahabaleshwar is that it is surrounded by various Hindu temples. Couples, families, and even groups of friends who are interested in the history and culture of Maharashtra along with those individuals who like to visit religious centres in order to understand it better will surely be in for a treat here!
The temples in Mahabaleshwar are visited by millions of people every year, thus, their importance in Hinduism can be seen as noteworthy. So, you can show your devotion at these temples on your next trip to this hill station. Mentioned below seven of the most popular temples to visit in and around Mahabaleshwar:
1. Mahabaleshwar Temple
Mahabaleshwar Mandir is amongst the most revered temples in the entire state of Maharashtra. Needless to say, all Maharashtrians take a lot of pride in their heritage because this particular religious place marks the rise of the Maratha Empire. Constructed during the era of the Chanda Rao More dynasty, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Mahabaleshwar Temple is fondly known as the Mahabali after the name of Lord Mahabali who represents strength. Although there are five self-originating Shiva lingam or Jyotirlinga temples in Maharashtra, Mahabaleshwar Temple is still considered to be among the most popular ones in the state. It is situated only 6 km from the city centre, so you can take a private tax, bus, rickshaw, etc., to reach this temple. It is open to the public every day between 6 am to 7 pm.
2. Krishnabai Temple
Named after the Krishna River, this temple is believed to be the place of its origin. Set only 300 m from the Mahabaleshwar Mandir, this place of worship is a must-visit for people who are on a vacation nearby. This is because this temple offers a mesmerising view of the Krishna Valley along with the river flowing by. Krishnabai Temple, Mahabaleshwar, has a Shiva Linga inside its main hall of prayer and Lord Krishna’s deity. It was constructed by a Ratnagiri ruler in the nineteenth century, so its architecture and design are unique from other temples in Mahabaleshwar. Devotees can visit it anytime between 6 am to 8 pm all days of the week.
3. Panchganga Temple
Known as one of the oldest temples in Mahabaleshwar, the Panchganga Mandir was initially constructed by Yadava King Singhandeo in the thirteenth century. After a couple of centuries, the temple’s architecture was improved by Chanda Rao More and later on by Chhatrapati Shivaji. The Panchganga Temple in Mahabaleshwar got its name from the fact that it is only the place where five rivers, namely, Krishna, Venna, Savitri, Koyna and Gayatri converge. The area around this temple is ideal for travellers who want to buy souvenirs and handicrafts. As it is among the most famous temples in Mahabaleshwar and Sitara, the footfall is always on the higher side. You can pay your respects in the morning between 5 am to 12 pm or after dusk from 4 pm to 9 pm every day.
4. Bhushan Mahamuni
Another Hindu temple in Mahabaleshwar that attracts a lot of travellers every year is Bhushan Mahamuni. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and to honour him, the temple authorities have installed an enchanting deity of Lord Shiva made from pure gold. The history of this temple in Mahabaleshwar is not easily available except for one piece of information – Bhushan Mahamuni is the base of Swayambhu Shiva linga. While most locals visit this temple all year round, it is better for tourists to plan their trip during the months between August to January when the temperatures are pleasant.
5. Shri Shankar Temple
Shri Shankar Temple is an old Hindu pilgrimage site that hosts the Swayambhu Shiva Linga. In fact, it is said that the shape of this Linga is very unique. Shri Shankar Temple is also known as Trigunatmaka because it represents the trio of Lord Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara (Shiva). Due to this reason, people from all over the country visit it. Located a little over 70 km from Mahabaleshwar, travelling to this temple can be done in a private taxi or bus. It would be wise to book your mode of transportation in advance so that you do not face any inconveniences later on.
6. Utteshwar Temple
Surrounded by a dense forest cover, Utteshwar Temple near Tapola, Satara is a hidden treasure that you should explore on your vacation. Legend has it that a cow used to pay a visit to the Shiva Linga every day and pour her milk on it. Noticing this habitual movement of the cow, the people came to find the distinctive Shiva Linga and decided to build a temple around it. If you happen to be here during the month of January, then witness its annual festival would be nothing short of a dream come true. It will give you a peek into the lives of the villagers residing close by. Do try out the water of the Kund set near this temple as it happens to be delicious!
7. Shri Uttar Chidambaram Nataraja Mandir
Among all the temples in and around Mahabaleshwar, Shri Uttar Chidambaram Nataraja Mandir is the only one that has been constructed after Independence. Upon visiting Satara in 1980, His Holiness Pujyasri Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji expressed his wish to build a Nataraja Temple in the district based on the one that is situated in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu. Within a year, this temple was developed with the help of the state governments of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Easily accessible from other cities like Lonavala, Pune, etc. this temple near Mahabaleshwar is right on the National Highway 4. Timings are between 7 am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 8:30 pm.
Places to Visit in Mahabaleshwar
After visiting these enchanting temples, you can explore a lot more in this hill station. Mentioned below are four places to visit in Mahabaleshwar on your vacation:
Built by Chhatrapati Shivaji, this fort is a popular tourist spot in Mahabaleshwar. It is known as the “Valour Fort” since the Battle of Pratapgad was fought on it. Making a day out of visiting this fort is ideal for travellers. Trekkers can find several trails around this fort as well.
Mahabaleshwar is strawberry heaven. So, do make sure that you spend some time at a strawberry farm and pick the best ones out! It will be a great way to have an enjoyable time with your family or friends.
Situated right in the middle of Mahabaleshwar, this lake is very popular among tourists and locals alike. Taking a boat ride in the Venna Lake is something that every traveller should consider including in her/his itinerary. It is a fun experience and won’t cost you a lot too.
Witness two valleys belonging to different regions, namely the Deccan and the Konkan, is only possible at Arthur’s Seat in Mahabaleshwar. Trekking up to this viewing point is every your time because the scenic beauty around it is simply breathtaking. You can click some beautiful pictures here with your loved ones.
With such an exciting trip awaiting your presence, how can you still procrastinate? Stop overthinking and start planning your vacation to Mahabaleshwar.