When in Mumbai, take a break from the concrete jungle while exploring the vast greens of the surrounding towns for a quick escapade.
Mumbai is gorgeous but even the city of dreams has its shortcomings. While the city is buzzing with destinations and events that are a day-long engagement, it may get tedious every once in a while. During such trying times it is best to escape and find solace in the surrounding towns, be it a hill station (Lonavala) or a private city (Lavasa).
Here are the top five weekend getaways around Mumbai with your family.
This hill station is surrounded by green valleys and is also blessed with an abundance of tourist destinations. One popular tourist point is the Tiger’s Leap popular among tourists for its magnificent view and echo point. The name was given owing to the resemblance of the shape of the place with that of a leaping tiger. Located 8 kilometres (kms) from Lonavala, the cliff top comes with a drop of over 650 m, thus offering a detailed view of the hills and the western ghats. Another relaxing spot is the Bhushi Dam which also couples as a picnic destination. The masonry dam on the Indrayani River is especially a joy during the monsoons when the rover water overflows and wets the steps and surrounding rocky terrains.
Tourists can also engage in a religious retreat at the Karla Caves and the Bhaja Caves, which are ancient Buddhist shrines carved out of the rock.
A trip to Lonavala is incomplete without the adventurous turns along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway which is also lined with dhabas (roadside restaurants) offering mouth-watering delicacies. The luscious scenery and dent-less rides, make this one of the most famous and short getaways to head towards for the weekend with your family members at tow.
Lonavala is also a major trekking destination for organised trekkers, wherein regular trekking expeditions are held for the adventurous tourist.
Being immortalised in a popular Hindi song starring Bollywood stars Aamir Khan and Rani Mukerji only added to the charm and popularity of the place. Khandala located 72 kms away from Mumbai is an ecotourism spot and is one of the most popular hill stations in Maharashtra.
One of Khandala’s vantage points includes the Sunset Point for the shutterbugs to freeze the perfect sunrise and sunset while immersing in the tranquillity that the region has to offer. During summers, tourists especially enjoy the Kune Falls, a 3-tiered waterfall set in a picturesque valley. Other popular tourist spots include the Rajmachi Point, with views of Rajmachi Fort and the Ekvira Temple, which is an ancient Hindu temple with scenic views.
Alibaug in the Raigad district is a seaside destination that provides the perfect respite from the city madness. With the Alibaug Beach and the Varsoli Beach, the destination helps to rejuvenate the soul and body with the golden sand underneath the feet. A romantic stroll along the beach with your beloved at dawn is a recommended activity.
Another interesting destination is the Portuguese fortification in the town of Korlai, Maharashtra. The Korlai Fort which is now in ruins gives a strategic view of the Arabian Sea which it overlooks. Visitors are often enamored with the surrounding hill slopes. Other similar places of interest in Alibaug is the Murud-Janjira, the 15th-century island fortress; Kolaba Fort, an old military fortification in India along the seashores and Underi, a fortified island near the mouth of Mumbai harbour south of Prong’s Lighthouse.
Shielded from the hustle-bustle of the forever energetic city, Matheran is a two-hour ride from Mumbai and is a haven for photographers. Providing for over 40 look-out points, Matheran in the Raigad boasts of Louisa Point, Panorama Point, Monkey Point, Porcupine Point, Echo Point, to name a few. The romanticism and rustic charm of Matheran bowls over the tourists, coming back to enjoy the colonial architecture amidst a luscious landscape.
A popular spot is the Charlotte Lake which is often flocked by myriad domestic and migratory birds. Adjacent to the lake, there is a temple revered by Hindus, dedicated to the Hindu god, Lord Shiva. This popular hub is more enjoyable when it pours down as water spills out of the lake creating a waterfall.
Trekking enthusiasts can follow the trekking trail known as Shivaji’s Ladder that leads one from One Tree Hill Point down to the valley. The hills surrounding Matheran are covered in thick evergreen and deciduous forest, home to animals including monkeys, and birds such as cuckoos and bulbuls.
This densely populated tourist spot is widely acclaimed for its ancient forts. Its Karnala Bird Sanctuary is revered by bird lovers and watchers however the ancient fort site of Karnala is also another interesting option for bird watching.
Another interesting stop is Kalavantin Durg which is an ancient hill fort that towers over 2300-ft. high and can be accessed by a steep trail. Once you manage to brave the trail and reach the top 360-degree view of the city of Mumbai awaits you.