Scenic Indian Roads: NH48-Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar
‘Indian Scenic Roads’ series is going to be my personal favorite. In this episode I am going to write about NH48-Panchgani-Mahabaleswar road.
It runs through the beautiful Western Ghat Mountain range(Also known as the Sahyadri Mountain range). Western Ghat looks different in different parts of the year. If you are going for a hiking trip then monsoon is the best time I guess but if your going for a road trip with family & friends then the best time is March-June. I went in the first week of November and fortunately there was no fog although it was very cold outside. During March-June the sky remains clean most of the time so for the picture lovers the road trip offers a lot of opportunities. If you are coming from Mumbai-Thane-Pune bypass road, then from Pune, Mahabaleshwar is 150 KMs away.
Drive through the NH48-Wai Susur road to reach Panchgani. This place is famous for India’s Sugarcane and Strawberry production. The well known Company ‘Mapro’ has its factory here and is a good place to buy jam, jelly, sauce etc because here you will get 10% discount on the market price. The Factory provides a half an hour tour to the visitors but you have to buy a ticket. A complementary drink or a scoop of delicious ice crème, whichever you like, will be offered to you at the end of the tour. This place is good for having a lunch. There is separate food stall for the drivers too. After taking lunch you can head towards Mahabaleshwar and on the way enjoy the side scenes.
Just opposite to the Mapro factory you can see local Panchgani farmers selling mouth watering strawberries and Mulberries. For just 150 rupees you would get a big basket of these delicious local fruits. But be aware if you are wearing a light colour shirt or pant because the mulberry juice can spoil them very easily.
There is more from the locals – fresh Sugarcane juice. The juice is awesome, I loved the taste; I could even feel the smell of the rich soil and drank three glasses of Juice. You can buy it from the roadside farmers. I think that Panchgani is the largest producer of sugarcane in India but I am not sure.
Time has come to enter Mahabaleshwar and to go for some side scenes. In fact I visited 6-8 points in Mahabaleshwar after my visit to Mapro factory and before my checking in to the hotel Sumanraj located very near to the Venna Lake. I spent that night in the hotel.
The next day I started with the Venna Lake after checking out from my hotel. On my way back to Mumbai, in Panchgani, I visited the ‘Table Land Point’ to get a marvelous view of the blue sky and to get a feel of the edge of the world.