Mahabaleshwar Trip - I: Panchgani
Mahabaleshwar Trip - I: Panchgani
It was Monday morning on June 23rd when we started from Pune at early morning 6am. After facing the worst experience with CelCabs in our previous trip, we decided to do a lot of search and decided with TCabs this time and I must say TCabs provide very generous and decent service.
We reached Panchgani by 10 am, having had breakfast on the highway in Vithal Kamat restaurant. Our first stopover was table land. This was my second visit to Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar.
In my first visit I had been to Harrisons Folly, Parsi Point in Panchgani and Mapro Garden, Panch ganga Temple, Venna Lake, Elphinstone Point in Mahabaleshwar.
Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani valleys have numerous view points, which can be as high as fifty. Although important ones were of interest for us with least efforts.
Top 10 Attractions of Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani:
1. Elephant's Head/Needle Hole Point
2. Arthur's Seat
3. Mapro Garden
4. Table land
5. Venna Lake
6. Elphinstone Point
7. Lodwick Point
8. Panchganga Temple
9. Parsi Point
10. Lingmala Waterfalls
Other attractions include Harrisons Folly, Pratapgad Fort, Sydney point, Savitri Point, Castle Rock Point, Wilson Point, Dhobi Waterfall, Bombay Point, Hunter's Point, and Cannought Peak
While Panchgani is popular for its adventure sports, Mahabaleshwar is more popular for its natural beauty, with deep valleys and forest.
Just about 100km from Pune, is the hill station Panchgani in Satara district, which is also the gateway to Mahabaleshwar. It is about 3 hour’s journey from Pune.
Nearly 10km after crossing the town Wai is the popular picnic spot, Harrisons Folly, to the right side of the Wai-Panchgani Road. This is the first attraction in the route, and is quite popular for its horse rides. This is actually a flat land sliding on its three sides into the valley down, overlooking the Dhom dam. The significance of this place is in its greenery around, so the best time to visit is during monsoons and post monsoon, during summer the region is usually dry.
The horse rides are high on bargains, and we had bargained for 150 Rs for a small ride.
|Panoramic view of the surrounding hills as seen from Harrisons Folly|
|villages down the hills|
|Children getting dirty at Harrisons Folly|
Table land is about 5 km from Harrisons Folly in the town Panchgani, while Sydney point was on the right side of the road, table land was on the left. We decided to go to Table land, as it was a more popular attraction.
Since we left from Pune we were happy with the A/C in the car, but as soon as we got down from the car at the table land, we felt it was cooler outside and not inside the car. The feel was amazing, with cold breeze blowing our way. It took us a free walk with open arms against the breeze.
This was quite similar to my previous visit to Harrisons Folly, with all the adventure lined up including the popular Horse rides. This is the best place for horse rides, with a lot of bargain we agreed for a long ride for 500 Rs, which I think was expensive. He took us over the Table land towards north and showed us Dhom Lake. At times it feels a little unsafe to ride the horse on yourself, since it is almost like a table, and the table ends at a steep valley. It was just about 15mins ride, and very enjoyable.
As the name suggests, this is a very flat land and at the end of the table has a steep fall. It can be tiring to walk all around the table, as it is about 1km from its ends. Vehicles are not allowed beyond the parking space.
|Typical horse ride and the flat lands of Table land|
Just about 3km from Table land is another popular view point locally known as Parsi point. If you missed Sydney point on your way then it is still worthwhile to stopover at Parsi point. It is just on the right side of the main road. The view is mesmerizing with a long visibility, as the hills are mostly covered with grasslands. Both Sydney point and Parsi point overlooks the krishna Valley and the backwaters of Dhom Dam. Don’t miss the hot Vada Pav sold at the entrance, best experienced with the view of the Krishna valley and the blow of cold breeze. Spent time relaxing under the trees whilst enjoying the panoramic view, with hot Vada-Pav and cold orange juice. Didn’t forget to throw the trash in the Wastebaskets located near the shop.
We were feeling hungry still, and checked the clocks, it was already 12 pm. Luckily our next destination was Mapro garden Restaurant, which is just under 6km from Parsi point.
|View of Krishna river valley and the backwaters of Dhom Dam as seen from Parsi point|
This is one of the best garden restaurants I had been too. Visited for the second time, it is definitely among the top attractions in Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani. I’ve become a big fan of this restaurant, with the clear and decently priced menu, it has very well maintained gardens with a small orchid garden too, a chocolate factory and a chocolate shop, well maintained restrooms, pond, shopping center, ATM, kids games and great food, what more you can ask for from a restaurant?
It is a pleasure to watch the open kitchen while the preparation of your delicious sandwiches or Pizzas are being prepared. The sandwich preparation happens once in a while, so don’t miss it, about 25 sandwiches prepared at once which was quite amazing for me. Next best thing on the menu was the farm fresh ice-cream’s.
Watch out for the size of the sandwiches and Pizzas, as one large sandwich can fill your stomach.
Another must do here is glancing from the glass walls of the chocolate factory. Although not allowed inside, but can still learn how the chocolates are getting prepared as you pass through the glass walls. The passage ends at the chocolate shop itself. Where they sell some exclusive chocolates dipped in nuts and raisins.
|The chocolate factory at Mapro Garden|
The last thing to do here is shop some fruit crush or strawberry candies to name a few. It is advised to shop in your way back, to avoid carrying them all though your tour. They also give free sample drinks here for all the flavors they sell. Trust me they have more than ten flavors of fruit crush sold here, with 10% discount in all seasons.
|The strawberry world|
After a relaxing and exciting food, we started towards Mahabaleshwar at about 1pm.