Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Going to Panchgani

There are several ways to go to Panchgani; my favourite has always been a train ride to Poona, past the beautiful Khandala ghats, and then take a cab (preferably no sharing and all to myself) all the way to Panchgani. 

The very thought excites me; get up really early to catch the 5.45 am Indrayani Express from Bombay VT, breeze past the central suburbs in high speed, arrive Karjat station whilst the morning is still crisp, take in the scent of freshly fried wadas though I never used to eat them despite being such a big hit with passengers that the Central Railway used to make all the vendors stand in a decent line doting all across the large Platform No 1 - enough number of them to cater to all the compartments of the train - get off at Karjat station momentarily, to watch the two engines get attached to the train at the end, that would push the train up the ghats, then enjoy the beautiful ghats of Khandala and the multiple waterfalls that you get to see from your window and as you enter Khandala, go past it and the Marzban Parsi sanatorium and enter Lonavala station. Then, as soon as the Indrayani Express reaches Poona, scramble to get out with all my luggage and rush for the Panchgani taxi stand; it was Rs 300 or so for a single seat and around Rs 1,100 for the entire taxi, in those days. I do not know how much it costs now. 

This time, I took TPH-Neeta Volvo bus from Plaza Cinema, Dadar at 6.30 am. I was in for a pleasant surprise. Instead of the Volvo bus that is also a great way to travel in, I got a minty-fresh Mercedes-Benz bus. The bus was fantastic and since it was a new bus, the interiors were very swanky and damm neat! No jerks and it was the best bus journey I have ever had. And since we bypassed Poona, we reached Panchgani at around 13.00 hrs. The bus staff told me that the company has recently procured five such buses and will soon procure a few more. I think that is great news for passengers. The service was great and the ride was the smoothest you can ever get. At Rs 500 (peak season rates), it could come across as a bit steep, but what the heck! 
If you're travelling, better to travel in comfort. TPH-Neeta has come a long way; good for them and good for their clients. 

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