Devrai Home Stay
Pic credits: Mandakini Mathur
An artistic spot tucked away on a two acre land in Panchgani. Surrounded by hills, its the perfect place to feel one with nature. Devrai means a sacred grove. Thus, when the owner , Mandakini Mathur, shifted from Mumbai to Panchgani twelve years back and set up this bungalow, she made sure it looked like a grove. Today the homestay has over 250 distinct species of trees, bamboos, shrubs and creepers. Make sure to spot the sunbird’s nest in the verandah.
Mandakini runs the Devrai Art village, which is an NGO that works with adivasi tribal craftsmen and helps revive their art. Thus, Devrai Home Stay was an attempt at inviting artists, designers, writers, filmmakers, nature lovers etc.. so that they get involved in the promotion of tribal art. Which is why the homestay is an excellent way of spending time with artists and learning various art forms in the various workshops organized here.
The homestay currently has just one room for guests but is a cozy set up that offers great views of the scenic landscape.
The homestay serves only breakfast which has many ingredients from their organically grown garden- herbs, honey etc. Mandakini is always experimenting with recipes to make the breakfast interesting and unique.
For lunch and dinner, one can choose from the numerous restaurants that are at a walking distance from the homestay. Besides the room is equipped with an attached kitchenette where you can rustle up a meal.
Getting There: Devrai Homestay is a 5 minute drive (2.1 km) from the Panchgani market and situated behind Sanjeevan school playground.
Pic credits: Homestay People
Situated in the Nandanvan society, between Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, the ‘Homestay People’ amongst the many cluster of bungalows stands out for its homely feel and the picturesque views. It was started by Jahanafrin Khan when ten years back she was the local guardian for many a children studying in the schools in panchgani. The parents would stay with her and it was on their request that she built the bungalow.
Choose between their bungalows and cottages that provide bedrooms from two to seven rooms. The homestay has two cooks- Seema and Ravi. While Seema specialises in Maharashtrian food, both veg as well as non-veg, Ravi looks after the barbeque requests. If it gets too cold, sit huddled near a bonfire that can be arranged on their premises. The host has been voted the best on AirBnb in Panchgani.
Getting there: The homestay is a 10 minute drive (4.5 km) from Panchgani market. The homestay is situated at 107-C, Nandanvan Colony, Opposite Anjuman Islam School Bus Stop.
Prospect Hotel, Panchgani
The Javanmardis family run one of the most popular homestays in Panchgani and Prospect is one of them. Built in 1912, the hotel is more than 100 years old and blends Victorian architectural elegance with Indian hospitality. Nestled amongst trees and greens that dot the path that lead to this hotel, Prospect is perched at the highest points, just below the famous ‘Table Top’. The abundance of flora- jackfruit, silver oak, mulberry, grapefruit, jamun trees ensure you wake up to this greenery every morning. The hotel is a group of cottages , finely built with wood and topped with modern amenities- television, air conditioner etc. The lawn in front of the cottages is well manicured and dotted with flowers.
As is with most Parsi homestays, a package here is inclusive of a pre-set meals. A delicious Parsi spread- chicken farcha, dhansak, egg patties along with the regular spread both vegetarian and non-vegetarian- mutter masala, roasted chicken, bhindi, paneer balls, roasted chicken are things you can partake in. Make sure you have enough space for the desserts which is a generous helping of caramel custard or sometimes the strawberry pudding.
Getting there: Prospect Hotel is a ten minute walk (600 m) from the Panchgani market via Shirinbai Davierwalla Marg.
Redstone Eco-centre and organic farm
Pic credits: Redstone Eco center and organic farm
If you have never holidayed in the midst of an organic farm, this could be your chance. The rustic interiors made of a wooden flooring and red stone walls coupled with a living room adorned with earthy pots and old fashioned pottery pieces, give you a feeling of living in the countryside.
You could spend hours reading a book lying on the hammock in the garden or sit huddled by the fireplace when it gets chilly at night. The two acre farm is open to experiments in organic farming. Guests can learn about ecological and sustainable living, medicinal plants, nature cure and farming activities. The owners also arrange excursions for wilderness walks, visits to the nearby plateaus and temples. Food arrangements are in order with a kitchen that dishes out home cooked food from the veggies and herbs that are grown on the farm. There is also an option for Jain food, non-vegetarian delicacies and vegan food.
Getting there: The homestay is a 12 minute drive (5.6 km) from the Panchgani market. It is located right opposite Velocity Entertainmentz on Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar Road.
Pic credits: Belscott bungalow
Belscott is a private bungalow in Panchgani located in Nandanvan society on the Panchgani Mahabaleshwar road. The bungalow combines old world charm- high ceiling and fire place- with new age comforts. The bungalow has three spacious tastefully furnished bed rooms with a fireplace in the living room. The lawn in front of the bungalow is an ideal place for the family to enjoy the evening tea.
The bungalow has an inhouse cook who prepares a great Maharashtrian spread- think kolhapuri mutton masala to something as basic as kanda pohe.
Take the help of the owners to go para sailing in the lake nearby.
Getting there: The bungalow is a ten minute drive from the Panchgani market (4.2 km).
Tranquil interiors in the midst of nature best describes this cozy bungalow that is situated by a stream. The homestay is equipped with three rooms that can accommodate ten to twelve people. Though the rooms are not air conditioned, the location works to their advantage. The rooms are well maintained and the homestay is blessed with a view of the forest, so that you wake up to great views of the forest. The bungalow allows camp fires and indoor board games. There is an inhouse cook who specialises in batata wada, mutton rasa and chicken prepared in a kolhapuri style.
Getting there: The homestay is a 14 minute drive (5.7 km) from Panchgani market and is located next to Panchgani Health Resorts, Dawood Estate.
Pic credits: Il Palazzo
Built in 1925, IL Palazzo is perhaps one of the oldest heritage homestays of Panchgani. Built in the colonial era, the rooms are spread over three acres, surrounded by silver oaks and eucalyptus trees.
What strikes you about the place is that though its an old property, the rooms are immaculately done up. Another striking feature is the wooden furniture that dates back to the colonial times – thanks to the copious use of teawood for bed frames, tabletops and almirahs. However, it perfectly blends the old with the new. For instance, the basketball court, swimming pool and gym are available.
Home style cooking takes centre stage at this homestay. The hotel offers a variety of cuisines to choose from- indian, parsi, continental and oriental. Their must try Parsi specialities include sali and eeda dishes, patri na macchi and lagan nu custard. Its only worth mentioning that the British Deputy High Commissioner had visited the homestay in 1980. Aamir Khan , too had hosted his wedding wedding reception here, a few years back.
Getting there: IL Palazzo is a 4 minute walk (300 m) from Panchgani market.
Mazda Bungalow / Hotel Mayfair
This hotel was originally a Parsi bungalow called Mazda bungalow that was converted into a hotel. It is a charming cozy place that combines many cottage type old bungalows. A beautiful lawn sits pretty in front of the cottages dotted with pink and white flowers and is a great place to sit back and relax. During the monsoons the place is covered in fog and looks pristine. A choice of indoor board games makes it a fun place for family get togethers.
The set menu is a combination of vegetarian and non-vegetarian style homely food. Whether it is the omlettes for breakfast or the paneer tikkas and Dhansak for lunch , the hotel whips up a sumptuous spread for its guests.
Getting there: The hotel is at a five minutes drive from the market and is situated at Near Aaram Chowk, L.C. D’souza Road