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Getaways from Pune I: In the cool climes of Panchgani

With the sun getting brighter and hotter each day and school vacations fast approaching, it’s time to make holiday plans for the summer months. What better way to escape from the heat and dust, to get away from the hectic city life and to be in the midst of nature than to head up into the hills! With the looming Sahyadri range located close-by, a number of hill stations and mountain tops are located around Pune. A prominent option amongst these is the land of the five hills – Panchgani.

 

 

Beginnings

Panchgani owes its origins to John Chesson, a British superintendent, who in the 1860s narrowed down to this region in search of a suitable area to establish a British summer town. With locals encouraged to move into this new settlement, Panchgani soon developed into a popular destination favoured for its fresh air and cool climate. Today the hill station is equally well known for its scenic setting as for the number of residential schools that have been established here over the decades.

 

 

To See and Do

Because of its altitude of 1334 metres above sea level, there are dramatic views to be found all around Panchgani. From the meandering Krishna River on one side to the coastal plains of the Konkan on the other, all topped with the mighty Sahyadri mountains soaring above everything below. Stop by the Sydney Point for a magnificent view of the Krishna River valley and waters of the Dhom dam. Or explore Table Land – one of the most expansive mountain plateaus of Asia, which quite literally appears as flat as a table top. Nearby are the Rajapuri Caves, a set of 4 caves and a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, that are believed to have been visited by the Pandavas during their exile. Also stop by the Mapro Garden situated in between Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, for picking and feasting on some fresh strawberries. The Gardens also have a charming cafe that serves delectable sandwiches, pizzas made in wood-fired ovens and some scrumptious desserts.

 

 

Fact File

 

Getting there: Located just over a 100km away, Pune is not only the closest airport and nearest major railway station from Panchgani, but also the most convenient base point for visitors from across India to make their way to this popular hill station. The Central Pak Hotel, located near Pune railway station with a choice of suite rooms is a great option for accommodation in Pune. The hotel also offers some of the best restaurants in the city along with a terrace pool and options for spa treatments.

 

Best time to visit: While Panchgani can be visited around the year, the summer months are most popular because they offer respite from the heat of the plains. In the monsoons, the entire vicinity is covered in heavy rainfall and presents a dramatically different landscape of lush greenery and scenic waterfalls.

 

Best known for: View points, fresh strawberries and mountain walks.

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