We left from our current residence at Pench National Park, in the wee hours of the morning. The excitement was at its peak. The bags were packed and we were all set to go. Feb mornings in the jungles is quite chilly and freezing. Clad in our warm jackets, caps and gloves we began our journey- a much needed break from our busy hospitality schedule.
Our driver, Sunil, was a sweet young boy. Pench- Panchmarhi a distance of about 250 kms, we expected to cover it in 5 hours. A drive through the beautiful Teak forest, covered in fog, spotted deer herds grazing on the fresh new leaves, with these spectacular sights, we soon exited the surroundings of the Pench National Park, and hit the highway. The road was surprisingly in pretty good condition, barring a few toll stops, we drove smoothly and reached Chindwara. Chindwara, district headquater, falls under the Jabalpur Division.
Since there are not many good places to eat/ Dhabas roadside on the Madhya Pradesh roads, so we had decided to pack some veg sandwiches along with us.
We stopped on a small tea kiosk- recommendation by our driver Sunil. The kiosk seemed to be quite popular among the locals, various men gathered around gorging on samosas, kachoris, local sweets and masala chai. We ordered masala tea, which we had with our sandwiches. No doubt the tea was very good.
We continued our journey. Soon after crossing Chindwara, we drove though the breakthtaking Satpura Hills, with dense jungle on both sides. The roads were great and a good speed could be maintained. The last 30 kms before reaching Panchmari were steep and serpentine, and those who have problem of driving/ mountain sickness, please be prepared with prior medications.
Panchmarhi welcomed us with its quaint cantonment charm. Set at a height of 1100 meters above sea level, it has been one of the oldest Cantonemet since British Raj in India. Panchmarhi apart from being a hill destination sort after among honeymooners, school trips, and weekenders, is famous for its caves, temples, waterfalls and sunset points.
Crossing the busy market, we drove towards our Hotel- an old British Bungalow now run by Madhya Pradesh Toursim- Hotel Rock End Manor. We were welcomed by a lady receptionist, who was always smiling and the junior staff consisting of mostly locals.
Our room and bathroom had the old British charm, tall ceilings, long hanging fans, huge bathroom, heritage closets, writing desks and lamps. The room was over looking a valley and surrounded by hills.
Our package, like most of the hotels in Panchmarhi offered a all meals included package. The food was delicious and homely. We had our first meal, lunch, in their small dining style restaurant. Paneer Butter Masala and yellow dal was simply amazing.
Since the objective of this trip was mostly relaxation, we spend most of our time in our room balcony, having beer in the day, birdwatching and listening to good music. I must say, for a bird enthusiast, this place is a delight.
In the evening, we drove to the local market, bustling with tourists of all age groups, mostly students and honeymooners. We packed a pastry for our anniversary, from a small local bakery shop, basic taste but good. Like we are paan freaks, tried a local masala pan from a small kiosk- delicious!
Our evening was spent enjoying the cold weather- sipping on some rum and lovely Chicken tikka from the hotel kitchen.
Our dinner was Kadai Panner, Alloo Gobhi & Yellow dal again( on our request). Since we were the only guests staying at that time, the hotel asked our preference for all meals and menu.
We spent the next day sightseening. Bee falls- a long trek but worth it. Jatashankar temple- famous for its caves and has a great belief among Hindus. DhoopGarh- Sunset point, also the highest point in the Satpura Range.
The evening was spent in the similar fashion, just relaxing and hogging on the delicious food from our hotel.
The next morning, after a basic breakfast of Aloo Paranthas and Omlette bread, we set out back home, an end to our trip.
The journey back is however, a part of the holiday and as enjoyable for us always.
Its always s hard feeling to come back home from a trip- but only to plan another soon. And for travel krazy people like us, we are always ready- planning our next…….