India is a vast country and is blessed geographically as it has everything from mountains to desserts and beaches. India is known for its hill stations, be it Shimla in the north, Mount Abu in the West or Ooty in the South, people visit these places a lot. There’s one more hill station apart from these which is in the lap of the Sahyadri mountain ranges in the Western Ghats – Panchgani, which is my home away from home, as I studied at a boarding school for close to 4 years.
Panchgani is a very small hill station and barely has about 15,000 people staying. The place has a pleasant climate all around the year except during the months of monsoon when it receives close too 700mm rainfall, and thus we used to get Monsoon vacation in school rather than the usual summer vacations. During winters its pretty cool as temperatures reach 0 degrees at times. Because of the dense vegetation, Panchgani is a great place to visit all around the year. Panchgani has a lot of Silver Oak trees and Eucalyptus and these are not allowed to be cut down. There’s just one main road crossing Panchgani with Pune being distant at one side and Mahabaleshwar on the other. One can reach Panchgani only by road. The nearest railway station, airport is in Pune which is roughly 100-120 Kms.
I was here till 2008 and thoroughly enjoyed every single moment. Panchgani is an educational hub with over 35 residential schools for boys and girls. So you’ll find more students in this town rather than adults ! Some of the most eminent schools in Panchgani are New Era High School, Sanjeevan Vidyalaya, St. Josephs, Billimoria to name a few. There are students not only from India but abroad also. Panchgani has been known for education for quite sometime now with stars like Kajol, Karan Johar having studied there. There were cultural events held on days of national importance like the Republic day where marching contingents from all the schools would participate in the parade on the main street followed by cultural performances. Being at this fantastic place was one of the best things that happened to me.
The city, though small in area, has all the modern facilities including a Petrol Pump, Shopping area, Bus stand (You can get buses to places like Satara,Pune,Kolhapur, Mumbai and even Goa !) and a dedicated vegetable market. Since the whole town has this one main road, most of the shopping places are situated on this place. Some of the famous restaurants include Namaste, Purohit thali,a restaurant beside “Unvallas” (a famous store), Akbar ali (Serves yummy parathas and pav bhaji, MUST VISIT) and even the Bus stand canteen is good too as it serves up some lip smacking vada pav, pohe in the morning.
Panchgani is famous for berries and all types of it. You’ll find strawberries, gooseberries to name a few. The strawberries are fantastic and if you order a strawberry flavored Ice Cream or milkshake, you will get the unexpected – everything would be made from fresh strawberries and taste amazing. Apart from strawberries, Panchgani is home to the famous beverage maker – Mapro. The guy has separate are called Mapro Gardens on the Panchgani Mahabaleshwar road. You’ll find a small garden along with food and some amazing landscape to go with.
Panchgani is a very small town away from the mad crowd in the cities, and is very close to nature. A great place to be with friends, family. I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Panchgani, if you are planning a trip to the fantastic hill station and require and help/suggestion, feel free to get in touch with me !