Panchmari was 'discovered' in the year 1862 by Captain J Forysth.
While exploring the Satpura forest, he found the Panchmari Plateau,
1067 metres above the sea level. The pleasant sight tempted him to
settle down there.What caught the British imagination most was
Panchmari's "Englishness" reminding them of Kent or Windermeter
-- a wee bit of India that would forever transport them back to England.
The British moved in. It became a sanatorium, and quickly thereafter
a pretty little military cantonment. After independence it was further
developed by the Madhya Pradesh government. The late President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad was
fascinated by the beauty of Panchmari and would customarily spend his summers
in Panchmari during his days in office.
After British discovered Panchmari, they felt it was too precious
to be thrown open to the onslaught of the general public. The
new town is therefore a kind of an afterthought
and is hemmed in on all sides by cantonment.
Panchmari still retains its tranquility, its silence, its
gentle shades of green and its soothing forests. The Malls,
fancy shopping arcades, skating rinks, ropeways that clutter Nainital, Simla and Mussoorie don't exist in Panchmari, making it poles apart
from other hill stations. It is a place of solitude.
Panchmari, one feels, has transcended the bounds of time.
How to get there
Indian Airlines flies to Indore, which is the closest airport
to Panchmari, from Bombay, Bhopal and Delhi. It is 931 km from
Delhi, 864 km from Bombay 599 km from Allahabad, 270 km from Nagpur
and 211 km from Bhopal.
Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC) offers a
range of accommodation, from log-huts and tourist villages to
motels, where room tariffs run between Rs 60 and Rs 250.
MPSTDC also runs package tours to Panchmari. Contact the Madhya Pradesh Tourism office in
74, World Trade Centre,
Cuffe Parade, Colaba,
Bombay, tel # 2187603.
204-205 Kanishka Shopping Plaza,
19 Ashoka Road, tel # 3321187, 3324422.
Gangotri, TT Nagar,
tel # 554340, 554341, 554342.
Mor Hindi Bhawan, Jhansi Square,
Sitabuldy, tel # 523374.
The tourist office at Panchmari is located at
Amaltas, near Tehsil, tel # 100
Photographs by Kamlesh Soni