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Tourist Places To Visit In Panchgani
Around 1860s, the wilderness of Panchgani assumed the role of a summer resort and a retirement home for the British, who found the table land between the five hills, a picturesque all season landscape. A superintendent called John Chesson was placed in charge of developing the hill into a summer resort and he ended up importing plant species like Poinsettias and Silver Oaks to be planted in Panchgani and modelled the hill into a simple hill township with greengrocers, tailors, weavers and building contractors to settle down near the marketplace.
Panchgani is renowned for its boarding schools established since the late 19th century and for its convalescence homes, for the pure invigorating air over the hills and the virgin landcape saw the growth of a number of health resorts, like the Bel Air Sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis, founded by Dr. Rustom Billimoria.There are an assortment of places you can visit in Panchgani like the view points, the dams, temples and the caves. Situated quite a short drive away from Panchgani is the beautiful hill station of Mahabaleshwar and the temple town of Wai, on the banks of the Krishna River.
We will give you a list of some of the most significant places you can visit in and near Panchgani.
The Rajpuri are four ancient caves or cave temples that are believed to have been used for doing meditation by Lord Kartikeya, the divine son of Shiva. Legends say that these caves were also used by the Pandavas when they were in exile. One of the caves that are located at a distance from the others has an image of Kartikeya. The main cave has a statue of Kartikeya said to have been moulded out of the sand collected from the cave.
The other caves have inscriptions and idols of Nandi. They are linked by underground tunnels and are surrounded by kunds, whose waters are believed to have curative properties. The Rajpuri Caves are about 7 km from the Panchgani bus station. Thaipoosam festival for Kartikeya that is celebrated in winter, sees a lot of pilgrims and tourists visit the temple in the caves.
Kate’s Point is a charming peak point on way to Mahabaleshwar. It was named after the daughter of the then British Governor Sir John Malcolm. Kate’s Point which was also known as Nake Khind during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, is at an altitude of 1290 m. Luxuriantly beautiful during monsoons and winters, Kate’s Point offers a panoramic view of Dhom Dam and Balkavadi Dam, the Krishna valley and the forts of Pandavgad, Kamalgad and Mandardeo.
Close to Kate’s Point is the Elephant’s Head Point that is a naturally formed precipice that looks like an elephant’s head and trunk. The wide gap in the middle of the rocks has also earned the name Needle Hole Point. Kate’s Point is a sought after place where tourists can watch the glorious colours of sun rise and sun set. Kate’s Point is about 7 km from Mahabaleshwar bus station and 16 km from Panchgani.
A 98 acre wide flat plateau, Table Land is Panchgani’s highest point at an altitude of 4550 ft. The Table Land is a vast stretch of plain land made of red laterite soil and patches of wild flowers. It’s a part of the wider Deccan plateau and offers an unobstructed view of the Krishna Valley and Krishna River and the undulating mountain peaks of the Sahyadri at the backdrop.
Sunrise and sunset look amazingly great from the Table Land and if you do travel to Panchgani during winter, you can spend some time there taking a stroll along the plateau or going off on a ride on a horse. If you are travelling in groups, hire a horse buggy to take you round the area. Check out the mountain lake, Pandav’s footprint and the Devil’s Kitchen on the southern end of Table Land, that was mythologically a place which the Pandavas used as their kitchen.
Pandavgad Fort is one of the most interesting places to visit near Panchgani. It is bound to be an appealing sightseeing point for adventure seekers, history buffs and people who are passionate about nature. Pandavgad Fort was built during the reign of the Shilar Dynasty by king Bhoj 11. Upon later unheavals, the fort passed through the reigns of the Adilshahi, the Marathas under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and the Mughals under Aurangzeb.
The square shaped fort lies on the peak of sixty feet high slopes and has an amazing line of defence with masonry ramparts, a 6 ft high steep rock and lofty walls. There were about 18 rock cut water tanks, though most of them are covered with rubble and only a few hold water. The fort is partially in ruins, except for a small temple for Pandjai Devi. The Pandavgad fort is at an elevation of about 4170 ft and it’s a moderately hard trek up the hill, but there are stone carved steps at the altitudes. The fort is about 23 km from Panchgani.
Yet another view point, Parsi Point that is encircled by fertile mountain slopes gives a charming view of the Krishna River and the Dhom Dam. The place does get a little crowded during peak tourist seasons because of its easy accessibility. Early mornings when you can watch the sun rise is the best time of the day you could get to spend in Parsi Point. Incidentally, it is said that Paris Point got to be so called because it was the favourite place where the Parsi people who lived in the vicinity spent their time.
Parsi Point is located just as soon as you leave Panchgani towards Mahabaleshwar. If you are staying in Panchgani you could even hike to Parsi Point. There are snack shops close by where you could get a bite to eat. Check out the fruit shops that sell the seasonal fruits that are grown locally. Parsi Point is about 2 km from Panchgani.
Sydney Point gets its name from Sir Thomas Sydney Beckwith, the commander-in-chief of the Bombay Army during British rule. Sydney Point is one of the most preferred points that provide an ample view of the Krishna Valley, the Krishna River that meanders its way through the plains, the town of Wai and the mountain peaks over the yonder horizon.
On a breezy cool winter day, Sydney Point makes for a beautiful picture perfect setting for photography. There is a hanging bridge that you can cross over to reach the tip of the view point. Head off to Sydney Point in the evenings to watch the sun set between the mountain peaks in summer. The place is chilly, yet spectacular in winter evenings. Sydney Point is about 2 km from the Panchgani bus station and lies on the Wai Panchgani route.
Maha Ganpati Temple
Maha Ganpati or Dholya Ganpati temple is one of the most prominent temples of the town of Wai, that is renowned for its numerous temples and Ghats. Maha Ganpati temple is a small shrine that houses a huge 10 ft tall and 8 ft wide brightly painted idol of Ganesha that is said to have been sculpted out of a single black stone. Opposite to the Maha Ganpati temple is the Kashi Vishweshwara Temple whose Nandi is also said to have been made of the same stone.
The Maha Ganpati Temple was built by Ganpati rao Bhikaji Raste in the year 1762 on the banks of the Krishna River. The back of the temple is streamlined so when the Krishna River is in spate, the waters would not enter the temple, but would be made to flow away on either side. The Maha Ganpati temple is about a short distance away from the Wai bus stand and is about 13 km from Panchgani on the Wai Panchgani road.
This is a charming view point that’s actually a small table land that can be accessed directly by car. Harrison’s Folly is the first view point that one can reach enroute Wai to Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. It gives a spectacular view of Panchgani on one side and the town of Wai on the other, with rugged peaks and undulating luxuriant valleys with wild flowers in between.
Harrison’s Folly is usually a quiet, less visited place during off season months and you can have a good time, taking a stroll or indulging in photography. It’s also an ideal place to watch the sun set, when the weather is good and the skies are clear. Tourists might prefer to do some star gazing as night falls. Harroson’s Folly is just about 5 km from Panchgani on the Wai Panchgani route.
Nana Phadnavis Wada
Nana Phadnavis Wada in Wai was built by Nana Phadnavis in 1780 in the village of Menavali that was gifted to him by Raghunath Ganshyam Mantri and Bhavan Rao Trymbak Pant Prathinidhi of Aundh in 1768. Nana Phadnavis was a powerful statesman and minister when the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire ruled over Pune.
The Wada is a large quadrangle structure, simple yet traditional built with intricately carved teakwood ceilings and broad courtyards in the upper rooms cordoned off with railings. A narrow fleet of steps leads to Nana Phadnavis’ durbar room in the upper storey which has a bedroom next to it, with a large old fashioned four poster bed with a punkah on top. The Wada’s rear entrance leads down to a ghat of the Krishna River. Close by are small temples to Meneshwar or Shiva and Vishnu. Nana Phadnavis Wada is in Menavali village, about 3 km from Wai and about 17 km from Panchgani.
Kalubhai Mandhardevi Temple
Kalubhai Mandhardevi temple for Lord Mandeshwara and Kaleshwari Devi sits atop a hill that’s about 4650 ft above msl. The temple that is said to have been built during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, sees a lot of footfall during weekends and the annual Kalubai Jatra that is celebrated for 10 days in the month of January.
A drive to the temple is by itself a charming one, with a hilly Ghat section called Mandhardevi Ghat leading up to the hill temple. There are about a 100 steps that need to be climbed up to reach the temple. The hill top gives a picturesque view of the surroundings including Purandhar Fort and the hill town of Panchgani. As climbing up the steps might be exhausting, choose a cool day in winter to visit the temple. Mandhardevi temple is near Wai and is about 14 km from Panchgani.