It is 7 a.m. on a casual Monday morning. If you were in your home city you would be in a rush to work. In contrast, here you are lethargically experiencing the smell of fresh leaves, the sight of aesthetic hills overlapping each other, the taste of strong mint tea, the touch of the cold breeze on your skin, the sound of bustling nature surrounding you, at the land of ravishing nature, Panchgani.
Arousing the five or “panch” senses is the best way to describe what you experience at this hill station located in the godly state of Maharashtra. This divine hilltop is a favorite of Mumbaikars and Pune-vasis, located just a five-hour drive from Mumbai and a two-hour drive from Pune.
Snuggled amid five hills of the Sahyadri mountain range, with the gushing Krishna River in the vicinity, this luscious abode is a dream haven if you are a mountain lover. The best time to visit this charming highland is from September to May during which this region experiences a moderate climate with intermittent cool breezy weather. One trivial fact to make this hill station more alluring is that it is located near Asia’s second-largest volcanic plateau. Although there are many tempting attractions across Panchgani, the search for the best view would lead you to the Sydney point.
This tiny cliff offers the most ideal perspective of the Dhom dam, Krishna valley and the city of Wai. The Krishna valley offers a lush green refreshing view from this point. Standing on this edge visitors can witness the Panchgani tabletop and the Krishna River flowing below, which is a sight you do not want to miss. This cliff is easy to reach via cab. Located just 2 km away from the Panchgani Bus stop, nature lovers can trek or walk to this point as well. It is located conveniently at the starting point of Panchgani entering from the Wai side.
Some tourists prefer meditating at this hill spot. Others look at the breathtaking vistas to inspire their creative juices. The common notion is the refreshment one feels after visiting and taking in the sights of this viewpoint.
It is an interesting fact to note that Sydney Point is a popular destination for ace photographers and wedding photography. The beautiful valley backdrop and the sculpted greenery add a great canvas for scenic pictures. If you are a morning person, the sunrise is something you will enjoy to the fullest. The sunset covers the entire valley with a gleaming golden light, which is something to look forward to in the evenings. Also, not to miss are the picturesque ranges of Pandavgad and Mandhadeo hill.
Surrounded by a volcanic plateau, crowned by the gorgeous Krishna River, views of the lush green valley, Sydney point is a whole package to cover everything scenic. The best time to immerse in the panoramic view is early morning (sunrise) and evening (sunset).
They say ‘the best views come after the hardest climb’. This is true at Sydney’s point as well. To reach the top, you must climb a few steps to the top, which are steep but not very exhausting. The view is worth the climb.
As for transportation, if you are traveling by private vehicle there is ample parking space. And if you happen to be a nature enthusiast, it is suggested you take the nature walk from Wai or Panchgani Main Area which are at a distance of 1 km and 3 km respectively. Some prefer to rent a cycle to reach this point. The journey through the winding roads along the river to reach this point is mind-boggling.
One travel tip when you reach this place is to look for the ‘telescope bhaiya’ as locals call him and look at all the other locations nearby Panchgani through a telescope for a mere Rs.60. Another interesting fact which makes this place more fascinating is that it has the maximum wind speeds compared to the other places in Panchgani.
The food and refreshments are available at stalls and kiosks near the parking area. If you want to enjoy the beautiful views with a cup of tea, it will be available in the vicinity. Although the luxury of these stalls is mostly at the peak hours of visit, if you are planning to visit in the late morning or afternoon it is suggested to carry light snacks and water bottles based on your preference. If you are planning to stay back after the sun is set, especially in the months of November-January, it is advised to take a light jacket or sweater as it can get chilly around this point.
After you are done cherishing the Sydney point, there are other places of interest in the proximity. Here are the places to visit categorized by the distance from Sydney point within a walkable distance of 5 km:
This tabletop plateau is a must-visit if you’re visiting Panchgani. Located at about 4500 feet above sea level, it is a vast expanse of land (about 95 acres) located on a mountain top offering majestic views. Horseback riding is one of the most famous attractions available at this plateau. It is a family-friendly place with a variety of recreational activities for kids such as the merry-go-round, arcade games, mini train, and of course a line up of food stalls. After visiting Sydney Point if you thought the views could not get better, wait till you see the scenery from Tableland. A few unobstructed views of the sky are guaranteed from the Tableland. Both sunrise and sunset views are to die for!
Located on the main road to Mahabaleshwar, this lush viewpoint offers a different view of the Krishna Valley and Dhom Dam from the one at Sydney point. It gets its name from the famed Parsi community, whose favorite picnic spot used to be this picturesque vista. Camel rides are a unique feature available here. There is also a huge kid’s play area and parking facility. Plenty of food stalls are also available here. It tends to get crowded during peak hours so it is advisable to visit a little before the peak hour starts.
This spot is for art enthusiasts and art collectors in general. But anyone curious about the ancient tribal artifacts and urban art frames can give this place a go. This place is filled with amazing archaic elements such as bronze sculptures, tribal handcrafted works and intricate metal works, which is bound to leave you in awe. Visitors can also observe the workmanship live at the work shed nearby, and even interact with the artists. This is a place worth exploring as it showcases the local “Adivasi” culture through the arts.
What is a summer vacation without an amusement park, right? This is a popular amusement park with amazing rides that make this place a must-visit if you are traveling with little ones.
Dhom Dam is the most famous picnic spot in Panchgani. This place doesn’t just offer a beautiful view but also keeps you engaged. Various water activities on the Krishna River are available here. Venna Lake is also a stunning place for picnics in the neighborhood. Tourists can experience a panoramic 360 view of the mountains from this point. During the peak season, the water activities, especially the boat ride tends to be crowded with long queues. Also, there is horse riding available. With its serene and dense surroundings and calming Krishna River, the Dhom Dam is a must-visit.
For all the stargazers and dreamers out there, Natskies Observatory is a must-visit. It is India’s first open to all observatory and offers a range of events. It also encompasses a space museum recognized by NASA. If you wish to participate and witness an exclusive stargazing event during the night event time, advanced booking is required. During the day time, visitors can observe and roam around the building for free. The event and booking details are available on the official website. This is a very unique opportunity for students and enthusiasts to visit an observatory without any restriction and this definitely should not be missed.
With so many exciting places in proximity, Sydney point in Panchgani is a dream tourist destination for solo travelers, family vacationers as well as for honeymooning couples. It pretty much comprises of all the elements that add up to fulfilling vacation spot.
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