Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani are hill stations just 3 hours from Pune city. They are both situated in the lush green Western ghats of Maharashtra. Both these hill stations are very close to each other and can be covered together. These are great options for the people from nearby places especially Pune.
The route to these hill stations is paved through ghats and fields of sugarcane, marigolds, tumeric and many different crops.
During the monsoons clouds descend on the hill, making the road quite difficult to see yet mesmerizing. I have been here during the spring as well as monsoon and loved it both the times.
Panchgani is famous for its lovely plateau called Tableland. This place has been used for shooting many Bollywood and Tollywood(South Indian) movies. During spring the entire plateau is full of flowers and looks like a never-ending green carpet. This fact is smartly used by the guides making you to rent their horses. They even give you a free 1 km test ride.
There are 2 caves here known as the tiger cave and Pandawa cave. As the name suggests the former cave was home to a tiger many years ago, but deforestation and tourist influx in addition to other factors probably made the magnificent creature search for another home. The second cave however is believed to be used by the pandawas (Hindu mythology ) during their years in exile.
Both these caves are presently occupied by small restaurants selling tea, maggi and some earthen ware. I loved the sitting in the cave watching the green hilly forest sipping on the hot tea. Although it was sunny and hot outside the caves were very cool and gave a welcome respite from the heat.
There are many vantage points to watch the lovely green hills which combine with the blue waters of the Dhom dam below to provide a captivating site.
Mahabaleshwar is famous for it’s strawberries. Mapro is perhaps the most famous agro business in Mahabaleshwar . Here one can get samples of their jams, frozen shakes, toffees and different snacks at the restaurant and tasting centre. The entire place is nicely decorated and kids love it here. Products from Malas are also sold here. I would recommend buying the ‘zero sugar Jamun jam’. It’s tasty and healthy, which makes it an excellent choice for diabetic people.
Other than Mapro there are a lot of strawberry farms where one gets fresh strawberry shakes and ice cream. If you are lucky the farm owners will allow you to pick some from their farm either for a fee or free. This is true especially towards the end of the harvest season.
Mahabaleshwar has its share of vantage points, echo point and Elphinston point are some of them. The Elephant point is a more famous one, where the rock is cut in such a way that it looks like the an elephants head.
The market in Mahabaleshwar has a wide range of fruits, vegetables and various articles made of bamboos.
Both these hill stations together form a lovely weekend getaway with their pleasant weather, breathtaking views and a lot of holiday resorts. So if you want to go away from the hustle and bustle of the city and breath the clean hilly air, head to Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.