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View of Panchgani Hills
|Elevation||1,293 m (4,242 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
Paachgani, also called Panchgani, is a hill station and municipal council in Satara district in Maharashtra, India. Paachgani attracts many tourists throughout the year. It is also renowned for many premier residential educational institutions.
Paachgani was developed by the British during the British Raj as a summer resort under the supervision of Lord John Chesson in the 1860s. Paachgani was developed as a retirement place because it remained pleasant throughout the year. He surveyed the hills of this region with Rustomji Dubash, and finally decided on this nameless area around the five villages: Dandeghar, Godavali, Ambral, Khingar, and Taighat. The place was aptly named Paachgani, 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 Paachgani . The area below the bazaar was allotted to them, and is now known as the gaothan. He is credited with planting plant species from the western world in Paachgani , including silver oak and poinsettia, which have flourished since then in Paachgani . 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 Paachgani .
A number of schools were started in the 19th century across different communities, and Paachgani started flourishing as an educational town.
In the 1890s, Kimmins High School was started for European boys and girls. 1902, the boys' section separated to become European Boys High School, now known as St. Peter's School, Panchgani, and Kimmins became an exclusive girls school. In 1895, the Roman Catholic order of nuns known as "Daughters of The Cross" started St. Joseph's Convent School, Paachgani . All three boarding schools were modeled on the English Public Schools of that time, and were affiliated to Cambridge University. The board exams would be held in December, the question papers being sent from England by sea. The answer papers sent back by sea, and the results declared in June.
Shortly afterward, other communities started their schools. These schools were affiliated to matriculation examination of the Bombay Presidency. The Parsi School, the first of these schools, later became the Billimoria School. The Muslim School became the Union High School, and is now known as Anjuman-I-Islam School. Both these schools were modelled on the English Public Schools. Hindu High School was started, now known as the Sanjeewan Vidyalaya. This was modelled on Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan. The Baháʼí Faith community started a Baháʼí school, open to students of all religions, and was renamed the New Era High School. A retired teacher from the Parsi High School, Mr. S. M. Batha started the S. M. Batha High School.
The fresh air and invigorating climate of Paachgani made it a good place for convalescence. A well-known tuberculosis specialist from Bombay, Dr. Rustomji Bomanji Billimoria set up the Bel Air sanatorium, in the 1940s, as a centre for the treatment of TB. Till the advent of antibiotics, Dalkieth was the premier place for the treatment of tuberculosis in the Bombay Presidency.
Paachgani is nestled in the middle of five hills in the Sahyādri mountain ranges. There are five villages around Paachgani named Dandeghar, Khingar, Godavali, Ambral & Taighat. The Krishnā River flows in the valley on which the Dhom Dam has been built approximately 9 km from Wai. The east of the Panchgani is Wai, Bavdhan & Nagewadi dam, at west is Gureghar, at the south is Khingar & Rajpuri & on the north is Dhom Dam.
The five hills surrounding Paachgani are topped by a volcanic plateau, which is the second highest in Asia after the Tibet Plateau. These plateaus, alternatively known as "table land", are a part of the Deccan Plateau, they were raised by pressure between the earth plates. The area has high seismic activity, with an epicenter near Koynānagar where the Koynanagar Dam and a hydroelectric power plant have been built.
In recent times, Paachgani has been facing ecological problems because of poorly controlled commercial activities, excessive traffic, and temperature inversion (because of humidity) from the new dams which have been built in the vicinity for water storage.
The temperature in Paachgani is around 12 degrees Celsius during winter, and sometimes reaches 34 degrees Celsius during summer; humidity level is very low except in the Monsoon. Monsoon rainy season spans between June and September.
|Climate data for Panchgani|
|Average high °C (°F)||23.9
|Average low °C (°F)||14.2
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||4.1
|Source: Government of Maharashtra|
As per Census India 2011, Paachgani town has a population of 13,393 of which 6,974 are males and 6,419 are females. Males constituted 52.07% of the population, and females, 47.93%. The population of children between age 0-6 is 1,368 which is 10.21% of total. The sex-ratio of Paachgani is around 920 compared to 929 which is average of Maharashtra state. Literacy rate of Paachgani is 80.56% out of which 84.6% males are literate and 76.16% females are literate. There are 9.62% Scheduled Caste (SC) and 2.75% Scheduled Tribe (ST) of total population in Paachgani .
Panchgani is known for its boarding schools established since the late 19th century. They attract students from the nearby cities of Mumbai and Pune. The schools in Panchgani are:
- Kimmins High School
- St. Peter's School, Paachgani 
- St. Joseph's Convent School, Paachgani 
- Billimoria School
- Anjuman-I-Islam School
- Sanjeewan Vidyalaya
- New Era High School
- S. M. Batha High School
The global charity Initiatives of Change opened "a centre for introspection and dialogue", a 68-acre campus called Asia Plateau at Paachgani in 1967. Over the past four decades Asia Plateau has been used for holding training programmes and conferences of Initiatives of Change, particularly to address issues of corruption and governance within companies and public institutions. On certain occasions, the centre is used for programmes of like-minded institutions. It is also running a model farm and rural training centre called Grampari, aiming at propagating good practices in the Indian villages, to foster hygiene, local democracy and economic development.
- Strawberry festival: The Strawberry Festival is held every year in summer in Paachgani .
- I Love Paachgani festival: The I Love Paachgani festival takes place every winter in Paachgani . Schools and local businesses participate in the festival.
- Table Land: Table Land is the second longest mountain plateau in Asia. It is capped with laterite rock. It is located at a height of 1387 m above MSL. There is a small lake within this table land. Horse riding is popular here.
- Sydney Point: This point is situated on a hillock facing the Krishna Valley, and overlooks the waters of the Dhom Dam, and Pāndavgad and Mandhārdeo. Sydney's point is about 2 km from Panchgani bus stand.
- Parsi Point: This point is situated toward Mahabaleshwar, and overlooks the Krishna valley and the waters of the Dhom Dam.
- Devil's Kitchen: Situated at the south of the table land, the Devil's Kitchen has a mythology associated with it: It is believed that the Pāndavas of the Mahābhārat epic had stayed here for a while. Pāndavgad Caves (near Wāi) are said to be built by them then.
- Mapro Garden: Mapro Gardens is a garden park known for their strawberry produce. It is located in village of Gureghar on the way to Mahabaleshwar and developed and maintained by Mapro, a food processing company.
In popular culture
The "Table Land" is a popular shooting spot for Hindi film. Films like Raja Hindustani, Mela, Taare Zameen Par, Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam and Agent Vinod were shot at this place. Paachgani is also a popular shooting spot for television series. Series like Pyaar Kii Ye Ek Kahaani were shot here.
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- Joshi, Hrishikesh (14 May 2010). "Mahabaleshwar strawberry gets GI status". Business Standard. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
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