For people living in Western Maharashtra, possibly the first two weekend getaways that come to mind are the twin hill stations of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. These places are easily accessible by road and are regarded as premium hill stations in Western Maharashtra. At a modest height of about 4500 feet above mean sea level, they are ideal places to unwind, especially during monsoons and winter. These places were developed by the British as summer resorts. During the British regime several premium boarding schools were also established mainly in Panchgani, making it an ideal choice for parents wanting to send their children to boarding school.

You can spend your day boating in the scenic Venna lake, visiting the famous points, temples, the famous table land at Panchgani, shopping on mall road OR you can just while away your time at some of the premium resorts. I have stayed several times at the Brightland resort and I would definitely rate it as one of the best. It is conveniently located between the two hill stations. The rooms are nice and well equipped, the service is efficient, the in-house facilities are worth exploring and most important of all, the location is superb. Most of the rooms overlook a beautiful green valley.

The most important or well known points are Arthur's seat point and Parsi point. There are many more and trust me when I say that the views on offer from some of these points are no less than spectacular.

There are a few old temples in Mahabaleshwar, the most famous of which is the Panchganga temple at Old Mahabaleshwar. This temple is named so because 5 rivers originate from this site.

There also are some very scenic waterfalls in this region. My favourite is the Lingmala falls because you can really go close to it and experience it's sheer force. A small trail through wilderness takes you to this location.

The "Mall road" is the main road in Mahabaleshwar and is full of restaurants, game parlours and of course lots of shops.

Last but not the least, I would like to mention that both these places are very famous for strawberry farming and strawberry related products. Mala, Manama and Mapro are three brands which have been around for ages and sell all kinds of jams, juices and crushes.

However as a result of excessive tourism (read use of plastic) and the presence of several man made reservoirs in that region, the ecology and climate is drastically changing, for the worse. Wonder whether our children would be able to enjoy these places in the same way as we have been able to.