Mumbai the financial capital of India is also known as the ‘City that Never Sleeps’! Pulsating with a frenetic pace of life, Mumbai formerly known as Bombay is certainly a city that keeps you on edge and weekends are usually looked forward to with palpable thrill.
You’ve a number of options to choose from, mainly the hills and beaches forming the perfect getaway.
Among a number of hill-stations on the Western Ghats (Sahyadris), around Mumbai are the city dweller’s favourite Lonavla & Khandala and can be covered in one go!
Lonavala and Khandala
With the proximity to Mumbai city, the twin hill resorts are popular with those whose lives are dictated with
the tick of the clock. Both lie within 5 kilometres of each other. Far from the maddening din of Mumbai, Lonavala is a quiet haven. With a crisp air even in summer, it’s an ideal hill resort where you could amble along with your group or loved ones, inhaling the fresh misty breeze.
A number of old-world bungalows and picturesque cottages offer restful accommodation.
Lonavala’s Bushy Dam in monsoon overflows unbridled and is a favourite among the young and the restless. The Lonavala Lake comes alive with pedal boats strewn across its placid waters.
Khandala is the more pastoral of the two and equally pleasant with its pretty villas that offer cozy comfort. The Rye Forest and the Bhangerwadi areas are known for their scenic villas. The Duke’s Nose Hill with its peculiar shape never fails to attract photographers both the novice and the ace! With the monsoon cloaking the hills in an emerald green cover over which ride a whiff of mist clothed in white, the places suffuses your senses with a quiet peace! Silver cascades wind through these verdant greens in monsoon completing the picture that makes for a perfect frame!
A mere 108 kilometres away from Mumbai is Matheran whose accessibility is further enhanced by a toy train from its nearest railway station Neral. Matheran’s unpolluted atmosphere is attributed to the government’s ban on vehicles on this misty hill-retreat. Your weekend here will take you back to times when the wheels weren’t perhaps invented. But horses come to your rescue! Even before daybreak, ponies take tourists for a ride into the deep woods, onto the shimmering lakes and upon the hills. It is a delight to stroll around the market place without having to dodge auto mobiles. The markets are glutted with pretty handicrafts and haggling can be fun. Matheran again is an all-season retreat; it is like a revisit to a terrain shrouded in mystery!
During the monsoon months from August to October, the plateau of Kaas breaks into a riot of vibrant colors of red, pink, purple, yellow, white and blue! With 175 species of wild flowers abounding Kaas, the valley offers an exhilarating treat for your senses! UNESCO has recently included Kaas plateau as Biodiversity World Heritage Site and needless to say, your camera will be flooded with pictures of resplendent blossoms!
The 285 kilometres between Mumbai and Kaas can be bridged cleverly if you start your journey on Friday night. But beware of Monday morning blues when you return to the city!
Closet beaches are Manori, Madh, Marve, Juhu, Chowpati and Gorai hugging the island city of Mumbai, but the mode idyllic ones are undoubtedly Alibaug, Kihim, Ganpatiphule and Harihareshwar.
Alibaugh can be reached via a jetty that ferries people at regular intervals from Mumbai. The clean, white sandy beaches of Alibaug and Kihim are a favourite weekend haunt. A number of inns offer snug comfort to vacationers serving authentic Maharashtrian cuisine. Lodging in one of the resorts nestled within green foliage with hammocks suspended between trees, Alibaug is an ideal getaway indulging your need for quiet languor.
Murud Janjira Fort standing right in the midst of the Arabian Sea with waves lashing at its formidable walls is a sight to behold. Ferries take you right to the entrance of the fort where you step onto the waters and into the fort! Kihim that’s close by is another resort whose coconut fringed beaches vie for attention, with its woods that are a home to colorful butterflies.
With an added attraction of Swayambu temple, the beach-resort of Ganpatiphule doubles up as pilgrimage destination too. The mangroves and coconut fringed sea makes it a picture-perfect getaway notwithstanding the 356 kilometres distance spanning Mumbai and Ganpatiphule. The sleepy hamlets around Ganpatiphule offer an escape lulling you into a surreal bliss!
This Konkan shoreline of Harihareshwar merely 193 kilometres from Mumbai is a tranquil sanctuary dotted with ancient temples beckoning the weary soul. The spectacular sculptures showcase the artistic brilliance of sculptors of a bygone era. Flanked by the Bankot creek and the Arabian Sea, and surrounded by four holy hills, Harihareshwar town has a truly heavenly feel to it.