24 December 2007
The day started quite early, at 5:30AM we got the wakeup call. After morning duties and breakfast, we set out of Karad at 7:30AM. The first place to visit was Nataraja Temple at Satara. Satara is 50kms from Karad on NH4. The Temple was built two decades ago by the South Indians staying in Satara. The Maharashtra and four Governments of South India also funded the Temple. It is the replica of Chidambaram Temple in Tamil Nadu. The Temple complex is neat and simple. We spent around 20 minutes in the Temple.
There are few forts near Satara but none of them was in the itinerary of the tour.
After Satara was Mahabaleshwar, one of the hill stations in Maharashtra. It is about 50 kms from Satara. We reached Mahabaleshwar at 10:30AM. Mahabaleshwar is logically divided into old and new Mahabaleshwar. Old Mahabaleshwar is predominantly a religious place with many Temples while new Mahabaleshwar is swamped by resorts.
Our first visit in Mahabaleshwar was the lake. The lake is formed by Venna River. Boat and horse rides are available in the lake. What impressed me was the clear blue colour of the water. On the banks of the lake are many eateries. Strawberries are quite famous here.
We then went to old Mahabaleshwar. We visited Mahabaleshwar Temple, Atibaleshwar Temple and Pachaganga Mandir. The five rivers Krishna, Koyna, Venna, Savithri and Gayathri which originate in Mahabaleshwar hills come out from a Cow’s mouth in Pachaganga Mandir and people take it as Theertha.
The main attraction of Mahabaleshwar is the several view points. We visited one of them near the Temple and the views were simply great.
After having lunch at a hotel near the Temple, we then set out to Panchgani, another hill station 20 kms from Mahabaleshwar. It is famous for the boarding schools. I always wonder why majority of the boarding schools are in hill stations.
We visited one of the view points in Panchgani. It was a flat land much bigger than a football field and offers breathtaking view of the valleys.
Vayi ghat starts from Pachgani and end in a tunnel, after which is the plains.
Our last destination of the day was Balaji Mandir of Narayapur. It is 3 kms away from NH4. It is the replica of Tirupathi Temple and attracts lot of crowd. The Temple is in the backdrop of the mountains and is very cleanly maintained.
After Narayanpur, we went to Pune for the night stay. We had dinner at Navaratna hotel, a Mangalore hotel which served all kinds of items except South Indian food. But Pav Bhajis and Vada Pav is always great anywhere in Maharashtra.
Karad – Satara: 50kms on NH4
Satara – Mahabaleshwar: 50kms
Mahabaleshwar – Pune: 115kms