Riding through the ghats, through curvilinear roads, with cool breeze kissing our faces and greenery all around is all you need to get over the hangover of weekdays.
It was 2.5 hrs of a journey from Pune. Panchgani derives its name due to its location amidst five hills. Legends have it that Pandavas visited this place during their exile. This place acts as an educational hub and is famous for several boarding schools right from Parsi, Muslim, Hindu and Christian schools. The climate here remains cool throughout the year (though Panchgani/ Mahabaleshwar are now victims of global warming due ecological imbalance and the dams that are built here.)
Table point, Panchgani
It is a wide plain stretched on a hilltop. One can also take up a horse ride to cover the maximum distance of this plain. It is so big, that 2-3 football grounds can be built here.
Kingberry wine, Panchgani
After surviving the afternoon’s heat while taking a stroll in the vast plains of the table point, Kingberry wine’s board on the road drew our attention, attracting us like a magnet and it was no less than heaven.
A variety of colorful flowers, strawberry farms and cool atmosphere made a perfect excuse to have some wine. Strawberry wines are the main attraction here but this place will not disappoint you with grape wines as well. One can also opt to stay here with a beautiful view of farms if one doesn’t mind getting light on pockets. (Rent starts from 1700/ day.)
After spending a lazy afternoon, we headed towards Mahabaleshwar which is 15kms from Kingberry.
Situated at an altitude of 1400m, Mahabaleshwar sure is an absolute beauty! But too much crowd visiting this place from the lower plains of Pune and Mumbai to experience cold and nature have disturbed the peace and harmony of this place. No wonder this was favorite hill station of Britishers to enjoy the summers. They have built several cottages and bungalows here ( In Panchgani as well). In fact, many points are named after them after their discovery/ in their fond memories.
Kate’s Point/ Needle hole point/ Elephant point/ Echo point
All these points are very close to each other named differently due it’s distinct characteristics. We reached Kate’s point only to witness too much crowd. I am never fond of too many people and hence tried to find a place away from the hustle- bustle. When in solitude, we could hear different bird’s voices from the ghats, while the Krishna river added up to the beauty.
Echo point seemed to be of no worth due to echoes of the crowd. But, we tried to echo our voice from a quite place and it does live up to our expectation.
Next day, we still had time to visit places and we began our day by visiting Lodwick’s point. Hardly 500m walk through the jungle, this point has a memorial pillar in the center with its history etched on it. It provides the beautiful view of the valley with curved roads.
Elephant’s head point
Just beyond the Lodwick’s point is Elephant’s head point which provides the panoramic view of the whole valley. It is named as the ridge resembles the shape of elephant’s head. Although, after observing the ridge from various angles, I found it difficult to match it with its name.
The serene lake with boating facility. Something that can be enjoyed with friends and families. The adjacent road provides a great view of Venna lake.
Situated on Panchgani- Mahabaleshwar road, this place is a great one to hang out with friends and family. It has a beautiful artificial pond, garden and strawberry vehicles for children. Also, one can buy Mapro products at discounted rates and can even try the samples before buying them. The restaurant here provides the great view of fields and one cannot simply miss strawberry cream with ice-cream. Other food items include sandwiches, pizzas, mocktails, desserts and ice-creams.
Other places of interest in Mahabaleshwar
Other places of interest include Pratapgad fort, Wilson point, Bombay point, Lingmala waterfall (can be visited from July-November), Panchganga temple (source of 5 rivers), Krishnabai temple (source of Krishna river).
Also Read: Gokarna- Trekking to the sand kissed beaches
- For budget travelers, this place may prove to be a costly affair as rooms and food are costly here. Especially on weekends, the room’s rent starts from Rs.1000 and above for a night. Simple veg thali starts from Rs.120. It is advisable to visit this place on weekdays as one may be able to bargain for a cheap stay since it is less crowded. (After wandering and bargaining for nearly an hour, we got a decent room for rs 600/ night.)
- If you are looking for a quiet place away from the crowd, then it is not a good option, especially on weekends.
- Going on a bike or personal car is the best way to visit this place as one can cover maximum places and also enjoy the drive on the curved roads. Otherwise, all the places are far from each other and one has to book a cab for sight seeing. Fares are fixed as decided by their association.
- Best time to visit this place is during the monsoon and post-monsoon i.e., June- October to witness the utmost greenery and waterfalls around. Though one can visit this place in November- February as well to enjoy fresh strawberries and the cold weather but the greenery will be comparatively less and waterfalls will be dried up.