If it hadn’t been for the constant search of the British for scenic hill stations with invigorating climate, Panchgani probably wouldn’t have been discovered. It was developed as a retirement place but soon became one of the most popular hill stations in Maharashtra. Its beauty is enhanced by a flat piece of land which is called the ‘table top’.
The credit for discovering Panchgani must go to a British superintendent named John Chesson who was placed in charge of the hill station in the 1860s. Fond of gardening, he planted many species from the western world in Panchgani, including silver oak and poinsettia, which have flourished since then. To develop the infrastructure, Chesson encouraged various professionals – tailors, dhobis, butchers, vegetable vendors, building contractors, etc. to also settle in Panchgani. The area below the bazaar was allotted to them, and is known as the ‘gaothan’.
Panchgani is nestled in the middle of five hills in the Sahyadri mountain ranges and amidst five villages known as Dandeghar, Khingar, Godwali, Amral and Taighat. The Krishna River flows nearby which is what has created the lake of Dhom Dam. Located 285 kilometers from Mumbai and 100 kilometers from Pune, it is the pleasant climate of Panchgani that attracts tourists, not to forget the scenic views one gets from its points.
The five hills surrounding Panchgani are topped by a volcanic plateau, which is the second highest in Asia after the Tibetan Plateau. This plateau, alternatively known as ‘table land’, is a part of the Deccan Plateau. Some of the points that you must visit are Sydney Point from where you can see the waters of the Dhom Dam, Parsi Point that overlooks the Krishna valley and Devil’s Kitchen which has a mythological legend associated with it: It is believed that the Pandavas of the Mahabharat epic had stayed here for a while.
How to reach:
The nearest airport is at Pune about 100 kms from Panchagani.
Nearest railroad is Satara, around 45 kms away. Nearest major railway junction is at Pune, about 100 kms away. There are regular state transport buses plying and even private transport is easily available to go to Panchagani.
From Mumbai, it takes about 4 to 5 hours by car taking a route via Panvel through Mahad and Poladpur. There are frequent ST buses from Dadar and Mumbai CST. From Pune, it is a pleasant drive on the NH 4 upto Surur and then take a diversion towards Wai – Panchagani- Mahableshwar. Wai is at 85 kms from Pune and from Wai one has to travel about 15 kms through the picturesque Pasarani Ghat to go to Panchagani and then 20 more kms will take you to Mahabaleshwar.
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