Address : southeast of Mumbai
City/District : southeast of Mumbai
State : Maharashtra
Panchgani is a hill station southeast of Mumbai in India’s Maharashtra state. It’s known for the Table Land, a huge volcanic plateau. Lookouts like Sydney Point and Parsi Point offer views of Dhom Dam lake and Kamalgad Fort, used as a prison by the British in the early 19th century. To the southeast, the Rajpuri Caves are surrounded by sacred ponds and contain a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Kartikeya.
Panchgani was discovered by the British during the British Raj as a summer resort. Panchgani was founded by John Chesson in the 1860s. Mahabaleshwar was the summer resort of choice for the British, but it was uninhabitable during the monsoons. Panchgani was developed as a retirement place for the British because it remained pleasant throughout the year. John Chesson was deputed to find a suitable place. He surveyed the hills in this region in the company of Rustomji Dubash, and finally decided on this nameless area in the vicinity of the five villages: Dandeghar, Godavali, Ambral, Khingar, and Taighat. The place was aptly named Panchgani, meaning "land between five villages", and Chesson was made superintendent.
To develop the infrastructure, Chesson encouraged various professionals - tailors, dhobis, butchers, vegetable vendors, building contractors - to also settle in Panchgani. The area below the bazaar was allotted to them, and is now known as the gaothan. He is credited with planting many plant species from the western world in Panchgani, including silver oak and poinsettia, which have flourished since then in Panchgani. Chesson is buried in the graveyard of St. Peter's Church. In 1971 or '72, his death centenary was observed in a big way when for the first time, the town folk and the schools participated together in a ceremony to remember the founder of Panchgani.
A number of schools were started in the 19th century across different communities, and Panchgani has since flourished as an educational town.
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