History in PanchganiEdit This
Two factors contribute to its christening. 'Panch' the former part of its name, comes from the fact that it is surrounded by five hills, and the latter part 'gani' means settlement. Hence, the town came to be known as Panchgani. There is also another origin to the name. The former part 'Panch' refers to the five mountains, but the latter 'gani' originates from the Sanskrit word, "warrior." Thus, in this sense, the name means, "the group of 5 warriors."
The East India Company started exploring the mountains of Sahyadri to find a suitable place for an European settlement, to escape from the harsh and hot climate of India. The warrant officer, who was retired, Mr. Chesson, was convinced that Panchgani was a great place to cultivate the European produce. Based on his recommendation in 1863, Sir Bartle Frere declared it as a Hill Sanatorium for the Europeans.
The story in detail
The climate played a very crucial role in the discovery of this beautiful and scenic location. Panchgani is blessed with an oxygen rich environment, which has curative powers. This, along with the cool climatic conditions, led the British to convert it into their summer retreat. Superintendent John Chesson, has the credit of converting this hill town into a travelers retreat. He was given the charge of this hill town and he did wonders to ascetically beautify this location. He was instrumental in planting silver oaks and other plants and thus contributing to the green environment.
Prior to the British
It is said that the Pandavas, of the great Indian mythological epic, spent some time in Panchgani, during their 'Adyantvasa' or the phase where they had to stay incognito. Panchgani also boasts the presence of the greatest Martha ruler, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Transformation of Panchgani
But, everything said and done, the British, especially Mr. Chesson, had a great role in transforming Panchgani into what it is today. Mr. Chesson brought in hospitals, schools, agriculture, and farming to this area. It is no surprise that, even after his death, the locals hold him at high esteem. He was instrumental in elevating Panchgani, into the luxurious health resort status that it enjoys today.