A Weekend with friends in Panchgani, Maharasthra
A Weekend with friends in Panchgani, Maharasthra

A Weekend with friends in Panchgani, Maharasthra

Times change. Circumstances change. For the last five years I was lucky to have gone on a number of trips with my childhood friends. The time between graduation and marriage is the best time for trips. Young and free, rough travelling is the thing to do and we did many. Over time some friends got married and some went abroad for studies and work. In all probability the rest will get married next year. I too was to leave for Canada for studies. All of this meant the likelihood of trips will drop drastically. With that in mind we planned to have a good trip before we part ways for the time being. So we decided to go on a weekend trip to a Hill station near Pune, as a couple of our friends live in Pune.

Panchgani is a pretty little hill station sitting at an altitude of 1200 MSL. Having a rich history of people of Mumbai and Pune settling here from the times of British, it is an education hub as it features a number of top class boarding schools.

On a bright Saturday afternoon , my friend P revved up his Baleno and off we started for Panchgani. There were 5 of us. First off, Abhishek, who had an epic journey when he missed his train at Hyderabad and took a flight to Mumbai and then a train to Pune. Then Bhanu who came from Bangalore. The two Pune residents were Deepanjan and P. And yours truly.

The drive was event-less and we only stopped when we reached our Hotel in Panchgani. The road was nothing much to write about as it was littered with dhabas, restaurants and hotels. Bhanu rightly commented that it was over commercialized killing the joy of a good ride through the mountains. Our hotel though was a different story. Built in the 1920s, the Mount View Heritage Hotel sits at the edge of a hill offering spectacular views. The hotel itself features victorian architecture and had this warm and cozy atmosphere about it. There was on old Mercedez Benz sitting in a rundown garage nearby and it only added to the charm of the place.

We checked in to the hotel and were pleasantly surprised to see our room. It was much better than what I had in mind. Featuring the classic British dimensions of the time, it featured a high ceiling with support plinths holding up two ceiling fans. The walls were bare with two windows at the front side and two at the rear. A small door led to the room. Four beds were spread over the room with two of them double beds. The room can be booked for 6 persons. A small door at a corner end led to the washroom. All this classic look was a perfect setting for a horror movie.

Well, we got fresh and went outside for a walk in the neighborhood. We had no set agenda and the only thing we wanted to was to have a good time. We strolled around aimlessly. Deepanjan was the  photography enthusiast in the group and he stopped every now and then to take a pic. Sometimes the far off mountain views interested him, other times a butterfly sitting on a flower. With his stopping and starting we moved along with a gentle pace on the road which ran hugging the slope of a hill. The views were spectacular. The air was cold and the overall mood quite pleasant.

We saw a high hill ahead of us where a number of people were headed to and we casually turned our walk in that direction. We sauntered on the winding road leading to the top. The sun was setting down and the blue skies were slowly turning to orange turning the whole area into a delightful mosaic of different shades of colours. It felt wonderful. Friends and a good location. What more can one ask for?

We reached to the top and found out this was called the Sydney Point. It was almost dark now. The views all around were astounding. There was a DJ playing the latest hit numbers of Bollywood which,personally for me, spoiled the overall mood. We sat here taking in the views and the atmosphere. We left the place when it got totally dark. By this time the lights of the town were shining brightly against the darkening sky.

We strolled back to our hotel, meeting a street vendor selling strawberries on the way. Over a pack of strawberries he informed us that the property adjoining our hotel belonged to Amir Khan, the Bollywood actor. Trivia always interests me and this was a good one. For a brief period of time we were the neighbors of Amir Khan.

Later we went to the town for dinner. There was a main street lined with all kinds of shops. There were the usual Kirana, medical and hardware stores. A couple of Bakeries and cafes were what interested me. One, the Roach bakery was the oldest one in town and it displayed this fact in bold letters. It was established in 1902 making it almost 116 years old. Another small cafe with old and withered chairs inside wore an old world look to it. I was tempted to go and have something there but there wasn’t enough time so we moved on. Later, back in the hotel room, while flipping through an informational booklet about Panchgani I found that Panchgani is steeped in history. It is actually a treasure trove for trivia hunters. To list off two which intrigued me, One – In 1939 when the Soviets invaded Poland, a lot of Polish people were sent to other countries and some of them made their way to India with an uncertain future. Fortunately for them, Jamsahab of Nawanagar came to their rescue and took them all under his care. Now for the connection, he sent a number of polish students to Panchgani to study. Second- Freddie Mercury, whose actual name was Farrukh Bulsara, studied in one of the schools here.

Coming back, we went to a restaurant and took some chicken dishes back to our hotel. Reaching our room, we settled around the dining table in front of our room and had a hearty meal. Cold weather and hot meals.And friends. Always a super combination.

The next day we woke up leisurely and checked out of the hotel. The day was again pleasant. From Panchgani we drove to Mahabaleswar and did a round of boating in the lake there. From there we moved to the Mapro Farm where we bought some stuff and had some light lunch. From here we started our journey back to Pune. We retraced our way to Panchgani, stopped for a bit on the tableland there and reached pune by night. After a quick dinner in one of the subway outlets we parted ways and returned to our respective places. For the first time I felt a bit of sadness while leaving as I knew I wont be around for the next 1 year and wont be going on any more trips with these guys.

Quick Facts
Altitude 1200 MSL
Distance from Pune – 100kms



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