Continuing our list of places to escape to from Mumbai, here are the rest of our picks.
6. Matheran – The only town in India that doesn’t allow motorized vehicles ensuring that you spend your stay in peace and get plenty of fresh air as you walk around sight-seeing or shopping. The toy train that brings many picnickers to the town is the only exception to the rule. One activity you have to try is the Valley Crossing – you are strapped into a harness attached to rope spanning the valley. As you zip across, hold your breath at the awe-inspiring experience and view.
7. Karnala – Just 60 km away, it cannot be any easier to plan a quick vacation. The main draw of this place is the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. With the picturesque Sahyadris surrounding it, the many colourful denizens of the forest will delight you with their symphony here. Within the Sanctuary is the strategically placed Karnala Fort. Overlooking Bor Pass, which connected the Konkan coast to the interior of Maharashtra, it was an important trade route for the region.
8. Khandala & Lonavala – Easily accessible from the smooth Mumbai-Pune Expressway, this twin hill retreats are a favourite with Mumbaites. Stock up on some chocolate fudge and a variety of chikkis. There are enough places to see and things to do to keep you coming back for more. Go to view points on top of cliffs for stunning scenery, or go under to Karla or Bhaja Caves. If you need to get away from the tourist traps, go hiking up the Duke’s Nose – a great way to bond with family and friends while getting a healthy dose of oxygen.
9. Panshet – Located in an idyllic setting between Panshet Dam and Varasgaon Dam, Panshet is a haven for the water babies – kayaking, windsurfing, rides in speedboats and on water scooters will keep your thirst for adventure at bay. Land lubbers don’t fret – visit the forts of Sinhagad, Torna, and Raigad, then try to spot some wildlife at Sinhagad National Park. Gorge on some authentic coastal food while you are here.
10. Malshej Ghat – Let the beauty of the Western Ghats enthral you, while you listen to the music provided by the avian residents such as cuckoos and flamingos among others. If you venture deeper into the forests, be prepared to have an encounter with tigers and leopards from the safety of your vehicle. If you visit during the rains or just after, the cascading waterfalls will delight you no end. Close by is Shivneri Fort, which is the birthplace of the legendary Shivaji.
Now that you know your options, there’s nothing stopping you from ditching the mall scene and heading for greener pastures.