We travelled to Panchgani from the 26th to the 30th of October 2008. An overnight train from Ahmedabad to Pune, saw us reach Pune at around 5:00 AM on the 26th and after a short halt we were off to Panchgani which is around 100Kms from Pune.
The route to Panchgani is a very scenic one with a lot of greenery and the flowers along the road were a sight to behold. A 2 hour drive and we were all ready to check-in to the “Blue Country Resort”, where we had booked our stay through ‘Club Mahindra Holidays’. Blue Country is a Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) property where ‘Club Mahindra’ have some rooms booked on a permanent basis. There are some horror stories about the resort floating around the net, but our stay there was quite pleasant and uneventful. Though the restaurant as reported is pretty small and so it gets full really fast and you need to be early to be able to get a seat for breakfast or lunch. Dinner is usually served outside on the lawns and so it’s a much better experience. Any yeah the room service, especially if you order something just before lunch or dinner time sucks . . .
Okay so having got all that out of the way, the property itself is quite beautiful with a Dolphin embossed Swimming Pool, a room for table tennis and carom and a small children’s park to keep them happy.
Legend has it that Panchgani is named after the five hills that surround it. These were settlements of the natives and hence the town came to be called Panchgani, panch meaning five and gani meaning settlement. The town was founded by John Chesson in 1854, who developed it with a grant from the Governor of Bombay. Soon it came to be the home of a number of Christians and Parsis, and a getaway from the heat of the plains.
Panchgani is at an altitude of 1334 m, it is just 38 m below Mahabaleshwar. These 38 m translate themselves into a breathtaking 18 km approach, that swoops around and bends with abandon, offering splendid views of the river Krishna on one side, and the coastal plains, on the other. Panchgani is the quintessential hill station. It can be seen in the architecture of the old British buildings, the Parsi houses, and the boarding schools that have been around for a century or more.
The five hills surrounding Panchgani are topped by a volcanic plateau, which is the second highest in Asia after the Tibetan plateau. These plateaus, alternatively known as "table land", are a part of the Deccan Plateau and they were raised by pressure between the earth plates. The area has high seismic activity, with an epicenter near Koynānagar where the Koynanagar Dam and a hydroelectric power plant have been built. Another place you must visit is Mahableshwar which is just 20Kms from Panchgani and a well known hill station
There are many tourist points in and around Panchgani, most of them offering breathtaking views of the valley below. There are various sightseeing hill destinations points in Panchgani such as Sydney point, Table land, Parsi point, devil's kichen, Dhoom dam, the lingmala falls and Rajapuri caves. The Sydney point is placed on small hillock facing the Krishna valley. We can see the glittering waters of the Dhom Dam and Pandavgad and Mandhardeo from here. Table land is situated around 60 mts high and second largest natural mountains in Asia. From here we can easily see devil's kitchen. Parsi point is a windy road situated on the Mahabaleshwar way overlooks the Krishna valley and the blue mirror like waters of the Dhom Dam. Doom dam is a beautiful boating spot, which is situated 21 kms from the panchgani. Scooter boats and Speed boats one can enjoy here. Rajapuri caves is placed about 10 kms from the town. It has a religious importance as there is a temple of Lord Karthikeya, (Lord Shiva's son).
When in Panchgani don’t miss Sherbaug (http://www.sherbaug.com/). This is an amazing theme park and you can easily spend over half a day here strolling through the amazing gardnen, eating a traditional Maharashtrian meal or just lazing around on the many swings and beds scattered around the place. Sherbaug also boasts of a beautiful fossil and semi-precious stone collection and some dinosaur eggs.
A genteel place, Panchgani doesn't really pander to commercial tastes, as does Mahabaleshwar. Here, holiday pastimes include walking, riding on one of the numerous ponies that canter around town, or simply unwinding at home in the cool of the veranda or drinking tea on the lawns. And if you feel energetic, amble down to the bazaar to shop for very reasonably priced shoes and slippers, preserves and squashes made from fresh strawberries and raspberries. You can also visit the MAPRO outlets and stuff yourself with all the free samples that they give. Note: After a few, they all taste the same and you will be as confused as ever
Panchgani has some amazing flora and fauna and I had a great time taking photographs there.
So after 4 pleasant days and our bags full with a variety of syrups, jams and pickles we headed back to Pune on the 30th to catch our train back to Ahmedabad.