Tucked away in a corner of Aurangabad district in Maharashtra is a tiny hill station called Mhaismal. Surrounded by the Sahyadri hills, it is actually a plateau steeped in natural beauty. Post monsoon, drenched by the rains, the brown earth springs to life and the slopes are covered in green. The dry streams wake to life and trickle down the slopes. In winter, a bracing climate makes it a popular weekend holiday destination.
So if you want to add an offbeat destination to your Ajanta-Ellora trip, budget some time for Mhaismal, often called the &lsquoMahabaleshwar of Marathwada&rsquo.
Only 50km away by road from Aurangabad, it can be visited as a day trip or an overnight one. The road to Mhaismal from Aurangabad is mostly scenic with rolling hills, green fields, and ghat roads. However, the condition is not uniformly good, report many visitors who have been there recently. So be prepared for a bumpy ride. Mhaismal is about 14 km and 110 km away by road, respectively, from Ellora and Ajanta.
On the way from Aurangabad, you may stop at Daulatabad fort (20km ahead) if you have enough time in hand. Dating back to the medieval period, it was a key fort in the Deccan region. This strategically erected fort is perched at a height of almost 650 feet and requires a steep climb.
Things to do in Mhaismal
Like most hill stations, Mhaismal too has several viewpoints &ndash Sunset point, Valley View, Necklace point, etc. The Valley View point (ticketed entry) is a sprawling plateau encircled by guard rails. From here you can catch a bird&rsquos eye view of the green slopes and valleys. But do be careful if you are taking selfies or standing against the rails. The Necklace point also offers a glimpse of the countryside and is a popular tourist attraction. There are many tea and snacks stalls here.
If you want some spiritual succour, head to the Girija Devi temple, the Balaji temple or the ancient Jain temple. Grishneshar Shiva temple, one of the 12 jyotirlingas, is about 18km from Mhaismal.
If you are fond of birding, in winter, you may visit the Salim Ali Lake and Bird Sanctuary, which is about 40km from Mhaismal. This can be visited on the way back from the hill station. The lake and sanctuary is situated near the Delhi Gate of Aurangabad. Boating facilities are usually available here.