This time when I visited Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar, I chose to stay in a rented bungalow rather than a hotel as I wanted to relive the charm and ethos of Panchgani with its spacious bungalows and colonial boarding schools, walking trails and juicy strawberries. The bungalow ideally suited for large families or groups has 3 bedrooms with a hall. While the care taker took care of our grocery requirements, a local lady was the in house chef. She cooked finger licking home cooked fresh food. As I enjoyed authentic Maharashtrian meals and lazed around, I felt relaxed and rejuvenated. The bungalow itself is in a quiet lane so you have your privacy yet it is a short distance from the Panchgani market.
After strolling around in the market, it was time for checking out the view from Harrisons Folly where paragliding is done on occasion, Sydney Point and Parsi Point. Kids find Tableland which is Asia’s second longest mountain plateau exciting as they can do horse riding and feed monkeys tomatoes which are sold there.
The next day we drove to Mahabaleshwar’s 15 viewing points, the most picturesque ones being Arthur’s Seat, Hunting Point, Wilson Point, Kate’s Point, Echo Point, Needle Hole Point, Tiger Spring Point, Monkey Point, Lodwick Point and Elphinstone Point. Devotees also visit the Panchganga Temple in old Mahabaleshwar for darshan as it has the origins of 5 rivers namely Krishna, Savitri, Koyna, Gayatri and Venna within it. There is an ancient swayambhu Shiva Temple near the Panchganga Temple as well.
Venna Lake is a popular spot for boating specially in the evenings while the Mahabaleshwar market is visited for its footwear, strawberries, mulberries, chikki and chana. The wax museum sells varied candles made by visually impaired while the wax statues have been crafted by physically impaired.
A visit to Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar is incomplete without buying Pure Berry’s range of jams, preserves, syrups, crushes and toppings. Preserves are made with whole fruit so you get the entire fruit in each bite be it strawberry, mulberry or peach and apricot preserve. I liked the three berry jam which is made from the three local fruits of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar ie strawberries, mulberries and raspberries.
Blue passion which is a mix of orange, lime and sweet lime and lime mock made with lime and sweet lime are hot favourites for making mocktails, cocktails and floats and a group of aspiring mixologists’ had come to purchase these. For summer, white rose syrup made from white rose extract makes for a great cooling drink and helps to treat acidity while Jeera masala aids digestion. Almost 30-40% of raspberry margarita and litchi syrups are made using fruit pulp making them comparatively healthier than other syrups.
A friend had recommended Cakes ‘N’ Cream which is next to Pure Berry’s so we decided to try it out. Farida Mala, the founder of Cakes ‘N’ Cream is the cake and cheesecake queen of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. Don’t miss the blueberry cheesecake and strawberry cheesecake. She even makes a gulab jamun cheese cake. Shrewsbury biscuits, donuts, cupcakes, pastries and chocolate croissants are the other bakery munchies on offer.
For bungalow reservations, Husain Mala- 9422600552