Tuesday, 6 September 2011

By – Dr Anuradha Prasad

 While the rain played a lilting music on my window panes……adventure beckoned my free spirit! To give it a much defined experience I wanted to go to the hills….. to touch the clouds  while I walked, taste the fresh rain drops  while I  trekked, to feel the cold breeze in my  hair……..  And to simply soak and get wet! For that experience, I wasted no time planning for a wonderful weekend getaway to the nearby hills and I zeroed in on Panchagani a small but pristine hill station encased between five mountains in the Krishna valley.


Tucked away in the Satara district of Maharashtra, Panchgani is a well-known hill station of Maharashtra on the highway to Mahabaleshwar from Pune. It derives its name from the five hills around it. Panch  –five, Gan-Mountains.
 As it is aptly named after the five hills in the lap of which it is located Panchgani is a major hill station in India that draws in thousands of visitors every year. Apart from it the pleasant climate and untouched natural beauty, contribute to the feelings of pure ‘nature experience’ to the visitors. Besides Panchagani is properly connected with all modes of transport, thereby making is easily accessible. At an altitude of 1,334m, it is just 38m below Mahabaleshwar. These 38m translate themselves into a breathtaking 18-km approach, offering heart-stopping views of the River Krishna on one side while the coastal plains on the other. It is far from the noise of Pune , endless hustle-bustle and pollution of Mumbai metropolis. It is the first hill town one reaches from Mahabaleshwar on the Pune road.
What you can do there…….
While in Panchgani, you can visit various beautiful places. If one wants to be on his own he can be or there are several tours operating in the vicinity for sightseeing. Mostly I explored its natural beauty and some of the places I visited were.
 Mapro Garden
  • Table Land
  • Parsi Point
  • Sydney Point
  • Devil’s kitchen
  • Malas restaurant and gardens
Apart from this I also tried my hand in adventure sports like Para-gliding horse riding, go carting  or just chilling ( so very rare to a city life) .On other times  I went for long nature walks  ( While I wrote mental poetry) through the woods  thickly canopied by lush trees and vegetation while it drizzled. The view of river Krishna is breath taking as it snakes though tiny hamlets, farms and ravines, hundreds of meters below the mountains. I also visited a place in the mountains called as table land (a flat mountain peak) and feasted my eyes on the coastal plains, looking like miniature watercolors.

The Buys-

Shopping is also a major activity, in this small hill town. What really strikes you is the market’s plush with fresh fruit and fruit preparations not to speak about the juice corners that churn freshest quality strawberry, raspberry, cranberry (Or any kind of Berry you have heard or unheard of) juices, milk shakes, fruit crush sand ice-cream preparations which are so very rare to Mumbaikars, because of the fresh quality to them. Needless to say my backpack overflowed with, some of the major buys from the shops like fruit juices and mock- tails, candies, Mapro's  – Strawberry or Litchi Crush, Jam, and honey. To note- Madhusagar Honey, Channa, Kholapuri Chappals and Mala’s Jam are  the buy  from the shops.

The Face Tells it All!
 At one of the places I visited in Panchagani a young man sporting a tika looking intently into my eyes started speaking! First I was aghast at his audacity as he started to describe my each feature with expert confidence and then suddenly….. Woken up from my drunken nature watch state I realized that he was not a loafer but an expertly confident face reader!  Presto I realized I had the   luxury of a future teller at my disposal at the most unexpected places. Vow! Natures walk with a face reader? Looked good!  I wasted no time in asking all that I wanted to about my future, nodded in agreement as each prediction seemed convincing. After a while curiosity took the better of me and could not help asking the young fellow about this unusual professional choice.
 He said his name was Rohit and he studied for five years at the Shiridi School of ‘Face Reading’ which is known by the name of Sai Dham Ashram. On further probe he revealed some of the tricks of his trade. According to Rohit (the Face Reader) every face is judged on the number of angles it has. Each angle signifies a characteristic. For example sharp eyes signify alertness…..wide forehead wisdom etc. In the face readers language these angles are called as carats. Not the ones that we eat, but like the metal gold, that is judged on its purity because, it is of 22 carats or 18 carats… so on so forth.  A regular face has 27 carats.  According to Rohit the art of face reading was a boon from his Guru .He boosts of hundred percent accurate predictions. However prediction for the same person might change if the facial angles change too! 
Interesting indeed! I was absolutely thrilled and made a few phone calls to friends and near ones to relate about my amazing experiences in this wonderful hill town. On the hindsight I wondered why I had never taken a chance to visit such an ethereal location …..Though it was so very near to my home town. Apart from the above experiences I spent a good amount of time bird watching and found ….fleets of them flying in the natural geometrical designs… towards sunset or just lazing in the shades  after lunch…..like I mostly did! Indeed I was reminded of the famous   proverb – ‘the birds of a similar feather flock together!’  As I packed my bags to go home…. to gather with my own clan (similar feathers) I mused that my experience was nothing better than mediation in its purest form ! Till my next venture into the hills I will carry it in my heart with adventure!

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