Monsoon Traveling near Pune – Panchgani and Lonavla

The rain transforms her into a bride

Dressed in a sparkling green ghagra choli

With the white clouds, her chunari,

I say, don’t be coy, please don’t hide

Let me embrace you, and make you mine..

– The hills, my monsoon bride, written by Prachi

I feel grateful to be able to enjoy the rain, the cold wind and play hide and seek with the clouds over two weekends, in the company of friends and family. Thank you Universe, for nature – one of the best things about life.

Panchgani in June

In June, we went on a weekend trip with another family to Panchgani, in Maharashtra. I’ve been here many times, but just like Goa, this place always is gorgeous, especially during the rains. We left on a Friday after breakfast, and the drive took us 2.5 hours. We made a small pit stop at the McDonalds on the way for pee break and to pick up some fries for the kids, and still managed to reach Mapro, right in time for lunch. A trip to Panchgani or Mahabaleshwar is always incomplete without the pizza and the cheese sandwich meal at Mapro 😉

It’s a lot of fun to go on trips with a family who also has a kid the same age as your own. Both the girls managed to entertain themselves, completely lost in the rains, hills and roads, making up stories and taking selfies with their pretend cameras 😀

The next two days went by in a blur. There was a silver lining to the pandemic related lockdown in the sense that all tourist places were closed, which resulted in almost zero traffic and hardly any people/tourists anywhere. We were able to roam around without any worry, and explore unknown hills, roads and jungles. We would only come back to our airbnb for lunch and later for the evening drinks and dinner, because hill stations shut down at 6 pm, irrespective of pandemic. But the routine of waking up early, sleeping early, without the distraction of a television or mobile (because there was hardly any network or wifi there), getting to walk all day long in the rains and then eating freshly cooked home made food, was absolutely therapeutic!

Lonavla in July

If we can, we usually try to get out of the city during my husband’s birthday. Last year we hadn’t been able to go anywhere, but this year, we could plan another weekend getaway in Lonavla. Again, booked a beautiful airbnb which was designed with a mix of antique and modern, near Amby Valley, and travelled there with another set of friends and their dog. Lonavla is pretty close to Pune, so it took us just an hour and a half to reach our airbnb. The drive was simply gorgeous, especially as we went higher up the hill towards Amby valley, with the clouds completely engulfing the road, which made for near zero visibility, but was absolutely breathtaking.

Again, we reached right on time for lunch and were treated to steaming hot home cooked rice, daal, chicken curry and salad. The best part about airbnbs in India (at least the ones we book) is that you have someone to cook for you! After a lunch where we nearly stuffed ourselves to death and explored the poetry inspiring duplex house, we decided to go out for a walk. Sadly, our walk was marred by an incident where another pet dog, who found the door unlocked, ran after my friend’s dog and attacked her. It was utterly heartbreaking to see her hurt and bleed, and that did dampen everyone’s spirits. However, a quick visit to the vet and a lot of love later, their dog was slightly better and we decided to call it a day, since it was starting to get dark.

Again, just like in Panchgani, we spent our time in the hills, walking, exploring some off beaten paths, discovering unexpected waterfalls, finding crystals – which my daughter kept calling ‘treasure’. If only..I wouldn’t have had to work anymore 😀

We would wake up around 7 am and then have a lazy breakfast. Go out exploring the hills nearby and come back for lunch. Go out again, get wet in the rains and the tiny waterfalls and come back by 6 pm. Take a hot bath and settle in for the evening with music, drinks, and great company. Dinner at home again and bed by 10 pm…I had not felt so relaxed in ages, I thought. Again, there was no network in this house so it was a complete digital detox for me. I absolutely revelled in it. Can’t wait to be out in the nature again soon 🙂

Some travel tips from a traveling parent in India 🙂

  • Try and book larger properties with a garden and a cook, if possible. Its easier to keep the kids engaged, especially if there is no wifi
  • If traveling during monsoons, carry rainwear, lots of spare clothes for the kid, rain boots/wellies, and mosquito repellent spray
  • Munchies or lollipops for the children – for those untimely hunger pangs when you’re in the mountains – but please don’t litter. Carry your garbage home
  • Always more fun to travel with another family with kids, especially if you have a single child like us 🙂
  • Colouring books and storybooks, for the evening entertainment

What do you like to do on a vacation – especially if you’re travelling with kids? Do you like short weekend getaways from time to time, or prefer longer vacations?

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