Panchgani- "The island of strawberries"


It was an extended weekend and we planned a short trip to pune-panchgani-mahaballeshwar from Hyderabad. We booked our flights from Hyderabad to Pune in advance, which costed us only 1800 per person. On 25th January 2016, we boarded Air India flight from Hyderabad at 10:00 and reached Pune by 11:30. We stayed for 2 days in Pune, which was much required to catch up with friends and then left for Panchgani on 27th January 2016. We booked Honda Amaze through Zoom Car, which costed us around Rs. 4114 for 2 days. We started from Pune at around 4:30 pm to Panchgani, which is a small hill station in the Satara District of Maharashtra. Panchgani is not much commercialized and thus offers a peaceful and scenic environment, it is a perfect weekend getaway from Pune or Mumbai. The stretch between Pune and Panchgani is 101.5 km and it can take over 2-3 hours to reach your destination. While travelling from Pune you can take the Mumbai Pune Expressway to Pune Bypass (NH4) → Surur on National Highway 4 (also called NH-48) → Wai → Panchgani. We were not familiar with the route so we covered the entire journey with the help of Google Maps. It really saves time!! It was an awesome drive experience as the roads are well constructed and luckily we didn’t meet much traffic on the way. We reached our destination at Panchgani at around 7:00, which was a very beautifully built garden bungalow in the outer stretch of the city and offers an amazing valley view.

We booked our stay through and the link to the bungalow is below:

There was one other beautiful ecofriendly organic living, home stay, Red Stone Organic farm at Panchgani. I would really recommend this place:

Moving back to our bungalow, the view outside was fascinating and you could take a gasp of fresh air in perfectly chilled weather. About 1 km from the bungalow there is a local market where we had pao bhaji followed by a cup of tea. For tipplers ;), the place also has a wine shop where you will probably find all your loved brands. We packed our dinner from a restaurant named “Friend Zone” and ordered Chicken masala, dal tadka, Jeera rice, and chapattis. The bill totaled around 800, which I thought was a little more asked for depending on the quantity. We headed back to our room, collapsed on the swing in the garden area, and tried hard to get the bonfire, but failed because we did not have kerosene/petrol. It was then not possible to sit outside in the cold without a bonfire so we moved in. We then played “Never have I ever”, which turned very interesting as many secrets were revealed. I must say it is a very interesting game to play with your friends. We then slept with a promise to wake up early, which was more than impossible for all of us. ;) However, we managed to wake up at 9:00 and left home at 10:00 after having Maggie and tea as they provide all utensils in the bungalow. However, you must wash the utensils before leaving as it is not a hotel or resort but someone’s home that can be used for short stay at the place.

The next morning we started from Panchgani to Mahabaleshwar. Here are the places that we covered during our trip in sequential order:

Asia's largest flat plateau and has five points Table Land, Shooting Point, Pandavas Footprints, Devil's Kitchen, and One Tree Point. “Shooting Point” has a history of many Bollywood films shot at this place, including Raja Hindustani, Mela, Taare Jameen Par, and Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam. Pandavas Footprints is known to have footprints of Pandavas when they were banished. I learned from web that they have paragliding and parasailing options at the place, but to our distress, some local people informed us that these activities have been banned in the area for Indians and only foreigners were allowed in some private camps.

It has beautiful scenic views and is less crowded when compared to other points

Mapro Garden is situated at Gureghar and is approximately 10 kms ahead of Panchgani. It is a very beautifully laid out garden with a small chocolate factory, a nursery, a restaurant, children's play area, and retail outlet selling mapro products. One should not miss their fresh strawberry icecream that is about 200 Rs/serving. We also bought fresh strawberries from a small shop outside Mapro Garden that costed us 180 Rs/kg and were juicy and delicious. Mahabaleshwar is known as the “land of strawberries” and your trip won’t be complete without a visit to a strawberry farm. If you are visiting during March/April you can enjoy the Mapro Strawberry Festival at Mapro Garden (please confirm the date before you visit). It is a four-day event and one can enjoy free strawberries, games, and cultural and entertainment activities

It is a hill station and features several elevated viewing points. Arthur's Seat Point area is one of the highest peak and has 6 points in total such as Arthur's Seat Point (Queen of Hills), Echo Point, Hunter Point, Tiger Spring Point, Window Point, and Malcom Point. On the opposite direction of Arthur's Seat Point is Kate's Point area that has 3 points: Kate's Point, Echo Point, and Needle Hole Point. However, if it is a one-day trip I would personally suggest to choose between Arthur's Seat Point or Kate's Point as both points are in opposite directions, the roads are narrow and it will take time much time to cover both places.

Wilson Point or Sunset Point is a must visit place in Mahabaleshwar and is the highest point with three towers that offer a view of the Panchgani platue, Old Mahabaleshwar, Elphinstone point, and Cannought peak point

Other well-known sites in Mahabaleshwar include Lodwick Point, Lingmala Waterfall, and Venna Lake. Kanda Bhaji is a must have food item in Mahaballeshwar. After covering all the major points, we were now exhausted and decided to return to Panchagni and then had our meal at “Hunger” – one of the well-known restaurants in the area. They serve good food and you should not miss their starters, especially Tandoori Chicken.

If you are on a 2-day trip, you can visit Old Mahabaleshwar on the second day that is 6 km from Mahabaleshwar. It has 3 temples: Panchganga temple, Mahabaleshwar temple and Krishna temple. The city also has two theme parks: Velocity Entertainmentz and On Wheelz Park. However, we could not visit the same due to shortage of time.

Panchgani and Mahaballeshwar are a must visit place for nature lovers with some awesome picturesque viewpoints. I am listing some tips that can help you to plan better:

Plan a 2-day trip to Panchgani-Mahabaleeshwar as you will not be able to cover all points in a one-day period.

Wear comfortable shoes as you will have to climb on mountainous terrains.

Carry enough cash as most of the restaurants do not accept card payment

For overnight stay don’t forget mosquito repellants and a torch

If you are not experienced driving in hilly areas, please avoid to travel during early morning hours or late night due.

Enjoy your stay and feel free to share your experience!