Mahabaleshwar is an alias for Lord Shiva ( He has over 1008 mindbogling names) . Lord Shiva not only lends his name to this town but blesses it with unparalleled Natural beauty.
There is always an interesting story behind name of towns in India, Mahabaleshwar is no different. To know the story, do read http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com at a later date, as this post is about the magnificence of Nature.
Amazing Mahabaleshwar is nestled in the Western Ghats at a height of about 4500 ft (1450 m).
Western Ghats are HOT SPOTS and home to a vast and diverse array of species like the Shekru or the Giant Indian Squirrel ( Ratufa indica) and the beautiful Canonball trees.
A beautiful expressway links Mumbai ( 250 kms) and Pune ( 120 kms to this wonderful town on the Western Ghats.
The approach to Mahabaleshwar is literally through these enormous and magnificent FICUS trees . The aerial roots form an arch resembling a doorway over the road near the township of WAI ( 30 kms short of Mahabaleshwar)
The hills of Mahabaleshwar are home to one of the few moist EVERGREEN forests of India.
Blessed with more than a fair share of the monsoons, it is indeed a wonderful place to visit round the year.
The mountains turn lush green and the Krsna River ( do read BIRTH OF A RIVER) charged afresh by the Monsoons gushes down to the parched lands of the Deccan Plateau.
The hills of Mahabaleshwar are home to a diverse range of Flora ( close to 6000 species) . The monsoons are a wonderful time to visit the region as numerous wildflowers ( do read post titled THE BLUSHING DAMSEL) carpet the area with their blossoms.
The Kaas Plateau ( about 40 km away) is also called the Valley of the Flowers of this region.
Fortunately the rains keep away hordes of tourists leaving you to soak in the glory ( pun intended) of Nature in solitude.
Coming from Delhi where the temperatures cross a dizzy 42 C with ease, we experienced with glee the glory of bountiful Monsoons in this wonderful town.
Behold the wonder of the Western ghats at Mahabaleshwar.
Wonderful Waterfalls burst forth from the mountains adding to the scenic beauty of the region.
This tiny town is the catchment area for no less than 5 Rivers.
The clouds descend to kiss the earth over Lake Veena, Mahabaleshwar.
A vast lake it extends upto the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary.
The weather changes miraculously as the mist and the clouds play hide and seek .
This photograph was taken within seconds of the one above. The clouds and mist had gone in a flash.
The high levels of moisture in the air are perfect for EPIPHYTES which covert rooftops into Gardens.
The Le Meridien Spa & Resort Hotel is a Botanists delight as it is located within a forest of Jamun trees , all of which are covered with orchids and moss ( Epiphytes) .
The sprawling estate of the Hotel is home like much of the region to numerous medicinal plants and the reclusive Shekru as well.
The Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas thus the genetic lineage of the plants goes back to a time now forgotten.They were the original Inhabitants of the land we today called India, then called JAMBUDVIPA.( the island of Jamuns)
Many sacred forests still survive in the Western Ghats , protecting a genetic pool created before the TIME OF MEN on this planet.
I will be coming back to meet Shekru whom I dearly missed and unveil some of these original greybeards of JAMBUDVIPA.