Last minute plans, ironically – but surprisingly are ALWAYS a success! And our Panchgani plan was no less! After having spent a week in South Goa workationing and exploring its pristine beaches and amazing restaurants, my husband and I were undecided on where to head next! And after some back and forth, Pune seemed like a good choice. My husband had a friend in Pune, and well, that helped! More than anything else, it helped save on rent! Haha!
So we spend two days in Pune with him, his wife and their 4 months adorable daughter, Vanisa. And then on one beautiful Tuesday morning in August set out for Panchgani, a stunningly beautiful hill station about 2.5 hours from Pune.
It took us about 3.5 hours to get to our hotel as we stopped in the middle for a scrumptious lunch. Note to all travellers going to Panchgani/Mahabaleshwar from Pune, you will need a liquor permit that would have to be taken earlier to carry liquor. Checking happens at the toll, and if they find liquor, you will have to pay a hefty price against every bottle. So, save money and get the freaking permit in advance!
So on our way, we stopped at this Dhaba, whose name I can’t recollect. Our Pune friends ordered Sol Kadhi, a light pink refreshingly tasty drink made of Kokum. We tried it for the first time, and I just couldn’t stop with the praise. It was definitely one of the best drinks I’d had. Unfortunately, to our dismay we couldn’t really find it anywhere else throughout the rest of the trip. But Solkadhi is a definite must while in Pune. We stuffed our stomaches to some finger licking good Dhaba food and finally made out way to our hotel.
The weather was very pleasant with occasional rains after which the mist would take over, leaving you a spectacle to behold. A drive up with the wipers constantly at work splashing rain water away, good music setting the mood right and some reminiscing of the past while savouring your favourite munchies. We had an amazing start!
We had booked our stay at Miraya Hotel Panchgani, a 3 star property overlooking the majestic Sahyadri hills and the Dhom Lake. The price we had booked it at was Rs.5500/- a night.
The service at Miraya Hotel was good, the views from the balcony were spectacular, the room was spacious and pretty comfortable, wifi was good, and the food was delectable. Oh, and they also had left these Mello Jels fruit gums pack in every room. Oh my, those were quite irresistible. Yeah, so those are the pros.
The property is run by a Jain, so the cafe is pure veg, and the food served is only Veg. So for hardcore non vegetarians, it may be disappointing but you can always order in from the nearby restaurants or head to the market which is quite close. About the balcony, it is not private. Although there are two feet height fences that demark the balcony for each room, everybody can pretty much see what you are up to! So those are the cons.
So we got to the Hotel Miraya Panchgani by noon and I unfortunately had to get to work. And oh boy, working while those majestic valley views continuously scream for your attention, is DEFINITELY distracting. Lol! But soon enough everyone else retired for a power nap, and I got some time to attend to work wholeheartedly.
We all got together for some evening tea, some hot paneer fritters and onion bhajjis. It soon started to drizzle and mist completely took over. It was like nature had just changed course and presented us with a new view, which was unexpectedly again, MAJESTIC!
That evening, we ordered dinner and some beers from the hotel and sat across a comforting bonfire with some soul-soothing ghazals from the 80’s playing in the background. After a couple of hours of intense conversations about life, we finally retired for the day.
Next morning, we again woke up to light rain showers and the mist covered the entire valley view. We all got ready and walked to the Mirayas Resto Cafe for breakfast.
There was a huge breakfast spread – with everything from paratha to poha, pancakes to poori bhaji, and the food was delicious. We stuffed ourselves to exhaustion. The view from the cafe is just stupendous. The mist cleared off very soon and the valley seemed to appear one shade of a lighter green, and 10 shades more beautiful!
Nature had set up an awe-inspiring background for the perfect pictures. So we utilised the most of it and clicked some amazing photographs.
It was soon time for work, so we all started with our daily office chores. We decided to go out for lunch. So we head to this place called ‘Ustaadi restaurant’ and enjoyed some scrumptious Northern Indian cuisine.
So my husband’s friend had a Charcoal grill machine, and he had carried all the necessary equipment for a perfect barbecue experience.
We had already already asked the hotel staff to marinate some Achari paneer, mushrooms and broccoli for the night. So we had everything ready and when we started with the heating process, we realised only later that he had missed to get the barbecue skewers.
So we ordered two skewers from the hotel and one by one, alternating between the panner, mushrooms and broccoli, I pushed them into the skewer at the center.
It was my first time experience and I was honestly overjoyed. Until that day, I had always associated the activity with something that we only see in movies or its something to do with the French. When I experienced it, I was thrilled and wanted every iota of that experience!
The grilling took quite sometime, about 45 odd minutes, but cross my heart when I say this, it was the best barbecue I’d ever had! The hard work paid off! That evening again we spent long hours talking while chilling with some beer before hitting the bed!
The next morning I woke up feeling terrible about having to check out in a couple of hours. It had been a wonderful time. We finished our breakfast, packed our stuff, spend last few moments admiring the stunning Sahyadri hill views and checked out of the hotel. Oh yes, I did remember to purchase a few extra packs of Mello Jels to munch on later.
We decided to head to Mahabaleshwar for lunch before getting back to Pune. After multiple restaurants that appeared to be open according to Google map pack but turned out to be closed courtesy corona, we finally settled at Little Italy. The drive up was just fantastic. It was pouring and the mist had taken over. We were driving through roads with mist covered mountain views on either end and visibility of not more than 10 meters. It was adventurous at the same time whimsical.
On our way back, we stopped at the market to purchase some strawberries and Mulberries from road side vendors, and Chocolate Brownie Fudge and some Mini’s Peanut Chikki, which are infact must buy while in Mahabaleshwar. The chocolate brownie fudge was just plain awesome.
On our way back, we stopped for some delicious tandoori chai and some misal pav. The misal pav was so spicy that I literally teared up. It took me a WHOLE lot of fudge to get back to normal. Pfff! We got home by around 6 in the evening and that was the end to our short and sweet getaway!
By god’s grace, we’ve travelled extensively and all travel experiences have been different in their own ways. Panchgani workation for me, again, was quite unique but in one word was just blissful. Waking up to stunning valley views, spending time in the company of some amazing friends, enjoying some play time with a toddler with the most adorable smile while pushing some great food down your throat. Panchgani vacation was everything I could ever ask for and more!
I’ve been to various hill stations, but Panchgani you have my heart! I’ll come back to you soon!❤️