- A Weekend Gateway from Mumbai-Pune!
I recently went to Mahabaleshwar & Panchgani with my best buddies. Obviously trip would be awesome because of them. even though in this kind of trip where location doesn’t matter, doesn’t mean the place was ordinary. I would rate this trip as my best monsoon trip so far. Our plan was to reach Panchgani on Friday and come back to Mumbai on Sunday evening or night.
It was a typical rainy day. As soon as we left my friend’s place from Mumbai, it started raining.The weather was really chilly because of that. Thank god we were in the car rather than on the bike. We started at 4am to avoid Mumbai traffic but because of some google map blunders and early morning unexpected traffic, we reached to Mumbai-Pune Express Way bit late at around 6 in the morning. From there, traffic reduced drastically. We had our first halt at Lonavala, where we freshen up and had tea and Idly in breakfast.
It was almost 9am. We wanted to reach to Panchgani at least by 12 noon and still we had to travel 200+kms which include 20+km of ghat section, which would be time-consuming. So we resumed our journey. It was 6 Lane Highway and very well maintained so in no time we reached the place from where we had to take a diversion for Panchgani. Well, After this diversion due to rain and narrow roads, it took a bit more time for us to reach to Panchgani. But as we 5 are friends from more than 15 years, we didn't get bored. we had many funny conversations and relived many old memories.
Our first adventure was to find a decent hotel with good view and reasonable tariff. We spent almost 2 hours in search of a hotel. As the one, which my friend had booked was not good at all. Finally, our struggle got over and we found a “Mount Castle Resort” Hotel. We got a Valley view from our Balcony and it was a Villa of 2 Rooms, hence we all can stay together.
Panchgani has mainly 3 Points to visit.
1. Table View Point, which was near the main market
2. Sydney Point, which was at the entrance of Panchgani if you came from Pune
3. Parsi Point, which was at the exit of Panchgani on the way to Mahabaleshwar
As it was almost evening and we skipped our lunch due to mission hotel search, we were damn hungry. we found one decent evening snacks place, where we had “missal Pav – A Famous Marathi Dish and Pav Bhaji – Another Famous Mumbai dish”, Meggi which is again safe to eat and an Oreo Shake which was far better then Bornvita ordered by my friends. I love to try famous local cosine on a trip and Missal Pav and Pav Bhajji didn’t disappoint me. After much needed evening snacks, we decided to visit Table view Point and Parsi Point. Due to constant drizzling, there was mud everywhere at Table View-Point. There was a lot of fog, we could barely saw any view from there. Though feeling of fog around you was incredible! We spent some half an hour there and left. During that time I tried out few tricks on my Nikon.
Next, we went to Parsi Point which was really scenic. We could able to see lake and mountains from there. The place was cleaner than the previous one with no mud around. There was a restaurant/Café at that place and the view from there was breathtaking. especially, In the evening, the climate became very chilly and foggy. Best time to be in that Cafe according to me. If one will visit Parsi Point, they should visit this café. Here, we too spent rest of the evening. There was one rifle shooting sport which generally you will find in "Village Fair", with which you have to shoot balloon. For every missed shot, we made fun of the shooter and laughed loudly. It was like, we were praying for shooter to miss so that we could make fun of him and laugh :P
It was almost 7pm so we left the place. While coming back, we saw a board where you can play snooker and as I and my friend play snooker a lot, we went there. The place was at bit remote location and was under construction. Even though we couldn't able to play, I was glad we visited it. On the way, we came across very dense fog where we could barely able to see the road. I missed my bike because driving in such weather would be a thrilling experience. Yes, there wasn’t much to do in Panchgani but we had fun roaming there. We saw a road and we drove on it until we reached to the dead-end and then on another road. We kind of explored it completely. After this, we headed towards our hotel. There was a TT table so we played TT for some time. We ordered Dinner and had it with Playing Cards, before calling it a Day.
The best part of the day was that walk in Drizzling and Fogy Panchgani weather while we were searching the hotel and ofcourse road trip around Panchgani in same weather with unlimited funny conversations.
Next morning we left at 9 and thought of doing breakfast on the way. Just after we left Panchgani town we saw Vittal Kamath pure Veg Hotel which is famous one that was what my friend said so we did breakfast there. We ordered Mishal Pav , Pav bhaji , Veg Thali , Uttapam & Paper Dosa with Tea and Coffee. Everything was tasty. By the way, I had never seen such a huge paper dosa even though I spent 5 years in Karnataka ( A region famous for Dosa ).
We found a gaming zone on the way to Mahabaleshwar. They had Go-Carting, Paint Ball (which was not working back then), Archery and Shooting. We played last two. While playing mainly our target was to tease others on their bad shots or you can say humiliate them. We are childhood friends so this behavior was expected and acceptable :P . There was one incident happened where One of my friends hit a shot but as the board was kept at a distance and bulls eye was marked in black color, we thought he missed it completely and to make it worst our instructor too, told us that he missed it. As of now none of us had missed the target. So on this, we laughed a lot and humiliated him. But then we saw the board closely and came to know he actually hit a bulls eye. Damn, we all were embarrassed by that.
Well, after that we directly reached to Mahabaleshwar town and we asked few people for the points one should visit and directions of those points. Mahabaleshwar has 48 points and we had just a day to visit it. So we decided to visit few of them. We went to elephant’s head point which had few more points near by. the place was a km away from parking. When we reached there it was drizzling so we were confused about visiting it or not but then we went there. As soon as we started walking, the rain became heavier. We were completely wet and severing because of that. Just then we saw one tea stall. In such a rainy and chilly weather getting a hot tea at kind of remote place was a blessing for us. We just ran there. We stood in front of the fire for some time and had tea. Meanwhile, rain stopped and we moved ahead. The entire route was scenic, covered with green tree and heavy fog around the place. I enjoyed it. We couldn't able to see any view at the destination but it might be due to heavy fog. But roaming in such a fog was completely different and awesome experience. I will choose to roam in this kind of weather at the cost of some viewpoints on any day.
Our next destination was Echo Point. The route was 15+ km from the current location. Undoubtedly it was the best 15kms of the day. Just see the below pic and decide by urself.
After an amazing hour+ journey we reached to Echo Point and Arther Point, Which were the last points of Mahabaleshwar. On the way, we visited few other places like Savithri view point etc as well. Of course, at any of these points, we could barely saw any views due to heavy fog but it was ok. it was a different experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Obviously, if you are with your childhood friend you have to do mad stuff. So at Echo point, we decided to shout as loud and as much as we can “Well of course for testing purpose! Ha ha ;)” After that went to suicide point which was some 20 meters ahead and came back to the entrance where stall of Pakodas, Vada pav and hot Tea was there. Well, In such a weather this combination would definitely work for most of us. After nice evening snacks, we headed back towards Panchgani.
I must share this funny incident, which happened in the afternoon at Mahabaleshwar City. We were asking route and as roads there, were very narrow and we were kind of in the middle of the road, some vehicle from behind started honking. seeing that, my friend gave them single to move ahead and I didn't know why in another second he too, moved his car ahead. We almost hit the car behind us. Seeing that, the guy from behind became mad at us and started bashing window of my side. and all my friends who were sitting behind were laughing on this mistake at the same time, which weren't helping either. I opened the window and directly apologized for my friends mistake. Thankfully, that guy left without doing more drama. Well after this incident on entire rest of the day, my poor friend received taunts from us."Bhai jo be driver ke baju me bethe hai, Please get ready to say sorry at any time. As anyone can bash your window at any time :P"
On the entrance of Mahabaleshwar from Panchgani, one huge lake was there where you can do horse riding , boating etc. boating in such a fog would be an awesome experience. But as it was almost 7pm we skipped it. We bought chikkis, chocolates while returning as this place is famous for It. After reaching to our hotel again we played cards and TT.
The only thing left was to visit was the Sydney viewpoint which was nearest to our hotel before saying Farewell to Panchgani and only weather condition we didn’t experience was the sunshine. Both things happened on next morning. As we liked Vittal Kamath restaurant a lot, even though it was in opposite direction, We went there for breakfast. Then we went to Sydney point. The place had one of the best views and trust me! you won't find a better view than this in entire Panchgani. We took few nautanki snaps as a memory. Then We sat there silently for some time and admired the beauty of the place, It was very peaceful. I felt like sitting there forever! That’s it, It was time for me to say Farewell to Panchgani and to my friends.