Legends and Mythology
Mahabaleshwar derives its name from Lord Mahabali (Lord Shiva), who is enshrined in the form of a naturally occurring (swayamboo) lingam in the shape of a Rudraksha seed. This lingam is considered more sacred than the 12 jyothirlingams. It is also called Trigunatmaka as it is believed to represent Brahma, Vishnu as well as Shiva.
The Panchganga temple is believed to be the site of origin of five rivers. There is a legend connected to this origin. On this site long ago Lord Brahma along with the Vishnu and Shiva performed a Yagna (religious ritual). Brahma’s consort, Savitri was not present. Brahma forgot to wait for Savitri. Since the presence of his wife was essential for performing the rites, Lord Brahma hastily married a local maiden Gayatri. When Savitri arrived she got enraged and in her fury transformed Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Gayatri into rivers. They also retaliated, turning Savitri into a watercourse as well. Thus, Brahma became the Venna river, Gayatri and Savitri became the rivers of their own name, Lord Vishnu became the river Krishna and Lord Shiva got transformed into river Koyna.