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Old 25th July 2012, 18:37   #1
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Lightbulb A Beautiful new Road to Panchgani

This is a travelogue of a completely new route to Panchgani. Picturesque, empty, peaceful!

Like ever before, a strong urge to run away from daily routine, work and responsibility popped its head in the middle of the week. So, any chance to run away and freak out this weekend? Sadly - no. Me and wife had patients till late Saturday night. No chance! But surprise-surprise! None on Monday! My wife’s eyes twinkled! Ditching work on a Monday? Can we let such a rare occasion just pass by? Search for a decent crash pad began. Destination? The BAAP of all destinations – Mahabaleshwar!

But with any impulsive plan, comes uncertainty. MTDC is full. Most other hotels, in spite of Off-season seemed overpriced. So why not Panchgani?

“There is nothing to do there!!,” wife exclaimed!

“Anyways we just need a place to sleep at night. So we’ll stay in Panchgani and hang out in M’war!”

Home minister thinks for a minute and then nods (Translation – I hate it when you have a point!) Found a decent MTDC leased 5 Hills hotel for 750 bucks a night (really!!), booked it for Sunday night and waited as the days crept by at snails place.

But wait! This means driving there on a Sunday. (Translation – Tremendous crowds, drunk merry makers, bad drivers and senseless jay walkers!) My heart sank. But as I searched GOOGLE MAPS, I saw a new yellow line appear as I zoomed in. It emerged from NH4, completely bypassed Wai, ran through unknown villages and mountains and confluenced with the M’war-Panchgani road just 3 km ahead of Panchgani! Can this be our savior?

https://maps.google.co.in/maps?hl=en

I searched up and down the net and Team-BHP, but found no info. So I consulted fellow BHPian – Mr. Ashsish Pallod, but he too said, he doesn’t know of it. He advised to stay away from unknown roads, especially in the rains. My dad said it will be a narrow, pot-holed village road. But my mind kept going back to it.

Sunday arrives. Packing done. Time to leave! I had decided to go upto Pachwad (the exit for the said road), enquire about the condition and then take a decision. NH4 is the usual affair - bit of traffic, smooth cruise on the straights and the spirited apex to apex drive on the awesome curves in Khambatki. Weather is cool, a bit of drizzle here and there. Feels good.

Minutes later we reached Pachwad, took the exit to the right and inquired with locals about the road. All of them replied that it was a good road and directly leads to Panchgani! We’r happy as a couple of 9 year olds who’ve just found a chocolate bar in the fridge

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The road was a typical small country road, but of excellent quality. It winds through small villages and settlements, farms and plantations. There are beautiful village schools that look so inviting, you feel like wearing an unkempt white shirt, khakhi half pant, white Gandhi topi and those white and blue slippers, and running around the playground like the kids who don’t understand words like ‘stress management’, ‘money management’ and ‘patient management’.

The rain made the drive even more breath taking. The heart settled down into a slow even rhythm. Eyes mesmerized by greenery, the crisp air and mind at utmost peace.

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There are loads of sign boards for Panchgani making navigation a breeze. This road is called the ‘Sartale Road’. Sartale being a major village the road crosses. Within a few kms, Ruhagar Mahu dam comes into view. Its just a small mud dam with barely any water as the rain Gods havn’t really opened up their hearts to us.

But as the road passes the dam, it suddenly becomes an off-road adventure. It’s just a mud track which goes on for 200 meters (No Pics taken. Too busy negotiating mud). Driving on it isn’t very difficult, but surely not for a rookie. Which isn’t a problem for our community, is it? Some repair work was going on over this patch, so hopefully by now it won’t be as bad. The grey matter reemerges from under the dirt and the ghat begins. This road is now called ‘Ruhaghar-Mahu Dam Road’.

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The Dam
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View from Dam
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The twists and turns start to unfold and suddenly you can see the typical houses we see on the slopes of Panchgani. At first you think, ‘No. It can’t be that close’. But actually, Panchgani is just 25 km from Pachwad. So the drive on the “road that I discovered(!!)’’ got over a bit too quickly. The last couple of kms have bad roads, but not too much of a worry.

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This road passes the “On Wheels Amusement Park” and joins the main M’war road where there is small toll collection booth just after Panchgani, which most of us simply drive past without stopping.

We then went over to the hotel, checked in and wife gave me a glare for booking us into “not up to my standards” hotel. We checked out most of the rooms and finally found a room that looked the cleanest. The rooms weren’t dirty or unhygienic, but just not what you’d call speck clean. Just typical MTDC, livable. But being MTDC property, at least it was a pretty big room and the campus was huge and had lots of trees and area to walk around.

We dumped our bags and headed towards M’war. The glorious Panchgani-M’war road was a pleasure to drive on as usual. I have to say it is one of my favouritest roads to drive on. The rain really picked up and within minutes the fog rolled in! Panchgani did not have too much fog or rain, but Mahabaleshwar had torrential rain and awesome fog! And lack of tourists made the whole package out of the world!

First signs of fog!
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We did the customary stops at Bagicha and Market. Then we went to Sunset point. And after just pointlessly driving around the beautiful foggy small lanes, started back as I thought it safer to return to Panchgani before dark. Some snacks on the way we returned completely drenched in spite of jackets and umbrellas! After a much needed hot bath, a nice nap and masala tea we drove to Hotel Basilica, which has the best food in town! We strolled around in the chill, played Table Tennis and had an amazing dinner of hot soup, chicken malai kabab and chicken steak sizzler! Yum!

Bagicha
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On the way to Sunset Point
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Chillies!
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Unnecessary attempt at artsy photography!
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A notice at the urinal at Mapro!!!
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To be continued...
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Old 25th July 2012, 19:02   #2
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Default Re: A Beautiful new Road to Panchgani

We retired for the night. Next morning we checked out at 9.30 and again drove down to M’war. Had breakfast and tea on the way. Today rain was much less but the fog was in abundace! Venna lake simple looked beautiful with the fog and the rain. The other side of the lake was completely hidden! Then we took the road to Lodwick point was breath taking with barely 5-6 meters of vision! The new 100/90 bulbs I got especially for this trip did their job well. The stock 60/55’s are pathetic.

Unused Go-Kart Track. Looks very inviting
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Breath-Taking Fog!
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Lodwik Point Parking
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Beautiful Venna Lake
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So after a similar amazing day spent there we commenced our return journey. I had decided earlier to go back via Wai, but the beautiful new Sartale road lulled me back. The drive was as beautiful as the ever. I drove at not more than 40 kmph here just to enjoy the view and even on NH4 kept a contant 60-70. I never drive this slow! I was feeling so peaceful and joyous after this trip, I just didn’t want it to end. A tension-free slow cruise felt really therapeutic. I’v been to M’war atleast a million times, but it simply never loses its charm. Choose the right weather, the right time and as it turns out, the right road; and it never fails to amaze!

On the way back.
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What the muddy patch did to the car!
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No rain once out of the mountains. :(
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Car smiling after a nice wash back home!!
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Cheers. Hope you enjoyed it. Drive safe!

P.S. – This road is perfect for Bike rides. I kept missing my beloved Thunderbird every minute of the journey! I just can’t wait to go back there on my bike. Will be doing that shortly. Any others interested? If there are a few bikers out there, PM me. If there are good numbers, I’ll start a separate thread for it as an official Team-BHP meet / bike ride. It will be killer in the rain.
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Old 25th July 2012, 19:28   #3
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Default Re: A Beautiful new Road to Panchgani

Has anybody tried Kaas to Mahabaleshwar road ? I am planing for Kaas in sept-oct via mahabaleshwar , any update will be helpful.
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Old 25th July 2012, 22:04   #4
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Default Re: A Beautiful new Road to Panchgani

Nice little travelog there. Thanks for sharing. BTW, The link for the road in google maps is not working. Can you please post it again?
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Old 25th July 2012, 22:38   #5
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Awesome pics dude. Loved it. Short crisp writing.
Its like a place in heaven
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Old 26th July 2012, 00:25   #6
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Default Re: A Beautiful new Road to Panchgani

Brilliant! And very nice pictures.

You got the perfect car for those roads. We have a ZXi in our garage. I love driving it.

And I terribly miss the rain here this monsoon.
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Old 26th July 2012, 02:14   #7
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Default Re: A Beautiful new Road to Panchgani

@ thumping heart
Great find and your pics got my heart thumping alright. Thanks for sharing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandeep joshi View Post
Has anybody tried Kaas to Mahabaleshwar road ? I am planing for Kaas in sept-oct via mahabaleshwar , any update will be helpful.
I have not but a friend of mine has and was praising the spectacular views it offers.
I'd advise you to use the road while descending to make it most enjoyable.
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Old 26th July 2012, 10:13   #8
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Quote:
Nice little travelog there. Thanks for sharing. BTW, The link for the road in google maps is not working. Can you please post it again?
Thank you so much kaushik. I tried but i'm not able to post the direct link. Sorry. I'l see what I can do. You can type "Pune to Panchgani" in Maps and look for "BAMNOLI" just south of Wai. You will easily see the road i'v described. Just alter the route to this road and it will give you all the details. The road doesn't go through Bamnoli, but that is the closest name you can use to locate the road. I hope I was helpful. I'l try and learn how to post a proper link.

Quote:
Awesome pics dude. Loved it. Short crisp writing.
Its like a place in heaven
Thank you so much Vivek. It is extremely beautiful!

Quote:
Brilliant! And very nice pictures.

You got the perfect car for those roads. We have a ZXi in our garage. I love driving it.

And I terribly miss the rain here this monsoon.
Thank you deetjohn! Certainly that car is a hoot to drive

Quote:
Great find and your pics got my heart thumping alright. Thanks for sharing.
Hehe. Thank you Off Roadie.

Last edited by thumpingheart : 26th July 2012 at 10:17.
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Old 26th July 2012, 10:17   #9
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Default Re: A Beautiful new Road to Panchgani

Fantastic travelogue.
If the car looks dirty at the end of a drive, it usually means the driver had a lot of fun.
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Old 26th July 2012, 10:47   #10
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Default Re: A Beautiful new Road to Panchgani

Awesome pictures, never thought it would look so lovely in the rains. When we went there it was ending of summer and beginning of rainy season. We wanted to do it before the rains so as rains would spoil the trip. Now i realize what we missed.

It looks like rains made the whole place much more beautiful. Keep more pictures coming.
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Old 26th July 2012, 10:54   #11
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Default Re: A Beautiful new Road to Panchgani

Hello Thumpingheart,

This is indeed a discovery. The road seems very scenic & good to drive on.

Infact our company has a guest house at Panchgani & I was avoiding booking the same because I did not wanted through normal Mahabaleshwar road, which as said is full of crazy drivers & Volvo buses. This route will be really helpful to me.

Thanks a lot for the piece of very useful information. I shall I look to visiting Panchgani soon.

Thanks,
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Old 26th July 2012, 11:14   #12
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That was one excellent triplog,well complimented with breathtaking photographs,wish i was in India right now,i would have left to panchgani right away the roads look so darn tempting,missing the moonsoons very badly.
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Old 26th July 2012, 11:21   #13
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I recently visited panchgani after a gap of 7years.I was in a boarding school there for 4years so pretty much know most of the roads there.Now from mumbai there are two main routes of getting there.
The most common one that most people take is the mahad route via mahabaleshwar.The second route is via wai-panchgani road.This is the fastest to the top.Amazing curves and bends in the road along with breathtaking views make this drive amazing.Though its quite short.
I prefer panchgani to mahableshwar anyday because mahabaleshwar has become too commercial.Panchgani has its own charm.It too has many attraction points.
Now too get to panchgani there is another route a longer one but fun to drive on.This ones via mahad through mahableshwar.There is is road exactly opposite the panchgani hill which over looks the krishna river.Basically its on the other side of the river.You pass almost touching dhom dam.Ill try and upload google images later on.
When you'll visit panchgani dont forget to visit sydney point,harrisons folly,table land,v point,devils kitchen etc.There are numerous caves too that can be visited but are mostly known by the locals.For instance adjacent to the road leading to sydney point theres a road which leads to a small cluster of village houses after which from there you have to walk for sround ten minutes and there is a huge cave there with a temple in.
There are many more just be friendly with the locals and they will reveal the secrets.
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Old 26th July 2012, 12:06   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
If the car looks dirty at the end of a drive, it usually means the driver had a lot of fun.
Couldn't agree more bblost.

And you really had a great time thumpingheart, photos speak.

Oh yes, my Thunderbird is waiting to be unleashed; soaring on those mountain roads. Lets plan that.
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Old 26th July 2012, 19:15   #15
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Couldn't agree more bblost.

And you really had a great time thumpingheart, photos speak.

Oh yes, my Thunderbird is waiting to be unleashed; soaring on those mountain roads. Lets plan that.
Hey Advait. Good to hear Its in the pipelines! I a weekend or two! Set. I'm PM you. I seriously we can get together a nice bikers group in T-BHP. And meeting fellow thumpers is always a joy!
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