Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mahabaleshwar -Panchgani

We had made the travel and accomodation arrangements for a week's stay in Mahabaleshwar. We boarded the Mumbai - Mahabaleshwar Volvo Bus from Vashi at 12.00 midnight. It was around 5.30 am when we reached the Bus Station situated right in the center of the quaint little market of Mahabaleshwar. The walk to the hotel was just 5 minutes. It was quite dark and cold and people were still asleep.

After a short nap in our cozy little room and a tasty breakfast in the mini garden, we set out. The climate was pleasant and the journey was wonderful. Long beautiful roads with greenery all around greeted us all along our journey. We visited many "Points". Wilson Point, Marjorie Point, Arthur's Seat, Bombay Point, Lodwick Point and Elphiston Point to name a few. Wilson Point is the highest point at 4710 ft above sea level. The view was breathtaking. The Arthur's Seat also offered an amazing view. One could see the barren deep valley of Savitri on the left & shallow green valley on the right. There were some steps nearby and on descending these steps you come across a spring known as Tiger's spring, which is supposed to be the source of the river Savitri. There was an old man at this place, offering the visitors glasses of fresh cold water from the spring.

In the afternoon, we hired two horses and rode deep into the forest to the Chinaman Waterfall. The journey was one of a kind. This was the first time we were riding a horse and the experience was fun.

Venna Lake is another great attraction here. With its picture-postcard sight, boating facilities and stalls for games and snacks, this place is always busy. We went for a boat ride on the calm waters of Venna.

Evening was spent strolling around in the market. There were innumerable tiny shops stacked with different types of chikkis, jams, 'channas', cane walking sticks, straw hats etc. Fruits like strawberries, raspberries, goose berries & mulberries, vegetables like red potatoes, French beans, beets, carrots and radish could be seen everywhere. Almost all the shops were selling varieties of jams, jellies and fruit juices.

The next day we visited Panchgani. Panchgani derives its name from the five hills around it. At an altitude of 1334 m it is just 38 m below Mahabaleshwar which works out to around a 20 km. The main attraction at Panchgani was "Table Land". This flat large expanse of laterite rock is the second longest mountain plateau in Asia. You have the most amazing view of the vast plain below from here. There are some spacious caves that can be seen from here and one of them is Devil's Kitchen. It is believed that the Pandavas stayed here for a while.

We visited "Parsi Point", a windy road situated on the way to Mahabaleshwar which overlooks the Krishna valley and the blue mirror like waters of the Dhom Dam. There were many telescopes put up here, offering a view of the Pratapgad Fort.
The visit to the Pratapgad fort brought back all the history chapters to mind. Pratapgad is one of the most famous forts in the Maratha history. This fort stands 900 meters above sea level and is most well known for the encounter and decisive battle between Shivaji and the Bijapuri general Afzal Khan.

We also visited a strawberry farm on our way back to the hotel. After 4 days in this beautiful town we headed back to Mumbai by the evening bus.

Where we stayed:

Savoy Village
Next to Club,

Its just a couple of minutes walk from the Bus Stand. Located right behind Hotel Rajesh.

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