Brimmed with plenty of long weekends, 2018 is offering perfect opportunities to bag wonderful memories with a great vacation. Majority of the tired city dwellers and distressed souls have already started jotting down the ideas for their fun-filled trips; while some are seeking soul-rejuvenating holidays, there are few who are finding destinations to satiate their adventurous selves. Well! if you live in Mumbai, I am sure, searching for your perfect weekend destination would not be a difficult task as the region is blessed with bountiful spots to cater to requirements of every kind of traveller. Even still, if you are facing some trouble in deciding for the most appropriate destination, we bring to you a list of top 10 best places to visit near Mumbai and hoping that you are able to choose one amongst them. So, here goes the list….
Located 650 km. via NH53, Chikhaldara, a scenic hill retreat in Vidarbha region, makes for one of the best vacation destinations near Mumbai that one can travel to over a long weekend. Needless to say, the quaint hill town is blessed with pristine natural bounteousness peppered with torrential waterfalls, serene lakes and aromatic coffee plantations which truly lend it an unmatched tranquil aura where tired souls can come and spend few peaceful days, unwinding and reconnecting themselves with nature. While nature walks, boating, fishing and angling are some of the common activities listed on the itineraries of tourists thronging to this peaceful little hamlet, in case some trekking expedition is also on your minds, a hike to the 300 years old ‘Gavilgad Fort’ will definitely leave you with the best ever experience. And if you are a wildlife enthusiast, needless to say, you would automatically be drawn to the ‘Melghat Tiger Reserve’, Chikhaldara’s prime tourist attraction and home to more than 80 tigers and a variety of other exotic flora and fauna. A jeep safari excursion in the heart of the reserve is truly a must for every wildlife lover and nature photographer and which is sure to leave him with some great memories of an enthralling tiger and leopard spotting experience amidst deep wilderness of the jungle.
Home to countless species of vibrant birds, Karnala Bird Sanctuary is yet another popular weekend getaway that lies perched over the breath-taking Sahayadri Ranges, approximately 65 km. south of Mumbai. Spread across an area of 12.11 square kilometres, the sanctuary is a protected reserve and undoubtedly, a best place to visit if you love being in the company of nature and feathered friends. A number of designated tree-shaded trails dot through the park and provide for a wonderful time to avid bird watchers greeting them with some brilliant sights of resident winged species including those of Malabar Whistling Thrush, Niligiri Woodpigeons, Malabar Grey Hornbills, Racket-Tailed Drongos, Golden Backed Woodpecker, Magpie Robins and Paradise Fly Catchers to name a few. Winters, especially the months of December, January and February is the time when these local residents are joined by the migratory guests, the Ashy Minivets, Blue-Headed Rock Thrush and Red-Breasted Flycatchers; needless to say, during this time, park is bustling with cacophonies of all these jungle beauties truly making it a heaven for birders and ornithologists. While a single day is enough for a trip to this beautiful sanctuary, government runs a couple of rest houses for those who wish to spend an extra day or two in the lap of Mother Nature; so, the coming weekend, do book yourselves a guest house here and combine your birding vacations with a visit to the historic ‘Karnala Fort’ that lies just an hours’ trek from the sanctuary. Not to mention, a cool winter breeze and splendid vistas of the Sahayadris on this trek will surely leave you with an awesome experience.
A stunning holiday destination located in Raigad district of Maharashtra, Alibaug has always lured families and couples alike. Located almost 100 km. from the busy Mumbai, the place soaked in exceptional tropical scenery and dotted with plush mango orchards, swaying paddy fields and gorgeous chikoo-wadis, truly makes for an ideal weekend retreat. Needless to say, the prime attraction of this tropical paradise is its number of serene beaches that provide for a nice laid back time to city dwellers wanting to get away from the roaring noise of metropolitan hubs; one can sit along the long stretches of golden sand on the beaches here for hours, soaking his souls in tranquillity of the place and enjoying the gorgeous vistas of the azure blue sea while also taking in the lovely ocean breeze that completely leaves one rejuvenated and re-energised. The historic ‘Kulaba Fort’ in the vicinity of Alibaug is another great tourist attraction that interests many history buffs and curious travellers visiting the city; while normally ferries run to take tourists from the beach to the fort and vice versa, in case the tide is low, one can also opt to take a walk or a horse cart ride along the sea waters to reach the citadel. For those with religious mind-sets, there is no dearth of temples in Alibaug; the hill temples of ‘Kanakeshwar Devasthan’ and ‘Vikram Vinayak’ are the most popular and leave every devotee blessed with a deep sense of divinity and spirituality.
Also known as a ‘Paraglider’s Paradise’, Kamshet is yet another beautiful destination near Mumbai that makes for a perfect weekend hideout. Off-course, adventure sports of paragliding, hand gliding and thermal soaring are a major draw here that leave every adventure enthusiast with an unmatched gliding experience, in case you are amongst those who are more of an explorer and love going off the beaten track in quest of an unconventional expedition, a number of beautiful and ancient Buddhist rock-cut caves like ‘Karla’, ‘Bhaja’ and ‘Bedse’ dot the region and are sure to give you a splendid treat reconnoitring and scouting them. Located few kilometres ahead of the caves are the historic forts of ‘Lohagad’ and ‘Visapur’; if after a phenomenal cave exploration experience, you are still left with some energy to venture on a trekking journey, a visit to these forts will definitely not leave you disappointed. There is something for laid-back travellers too in Kamshet, the serene ‘Pawana Lake’ steeped in stupendous natural beauty is a place just to relax and unwind yourselves from the shackles of city life; a fun family picnic and a wonderful boat ride on its rippling waters are sure to add some lifelong memories to your holidays in this charming little hill town.
Translated to as ‘the village of tamarind trees’ in English, Morachi Chincholi is an unusual and offbeat place that will leave all the nature and bird lovers in great awe. The serene abode of multi-hued peacocks, it is one destination in India where you will be treated with some mesmerizing sights of these gorgeous beauties perched over tree tops, on the cottage roofs, hiding under tall tamarind trees and dancing in fields & ranches – needless to say, you will literally find them in every nook and cranny. And the best part is, to have their company, you don’t need to plan a visit to a far-off bird sanctuary or a wildlife park; the tiny little hamlet is located just 140 km. from the capital city of Maharashtra and makes for a great place for a memorable family trip, especially if you have kids in tow. So, the coming long weekend, if you are thinking of an interesting holiday idea, do plan a trip to this rustic village and gift your kids an amazing opportunity to observe these shy birds in their natural habitats, up close and personal. And well! That is not all to do in Morachi Chincholi. The village has been designated as one of the best agro-tourism spots in Maharashtra which means, you can spend a full day here reliving the good old bucolic days, enjoying bullock cart and tractor rides, trying hands at Agri-farming ploughing fields and plucking vegetables, watching puppet shows and having fun time playing plenty of rural games. And when you are here in February, do not miss to be a part of the famous ‘Hurda Party’ which is a great hit amongst Mumbaikers and Puneites offering them a unique opportunity to taste the delectable meal of first ripe of Jawar crop roasted over burning coals and served with delicious dry coconut and garlic chutney.
Nestled on the shores of beautiful Pravara River in Maharashtra, Bhandardara is again a tranquil holiday spot where one can head to from Mumbai for a long weekend vacation. Blessed with nature’s bounty of glistening waterfalls, serene lakes and charming hills, needless to say, this quaint holiday resort will surely provide you with the much needed peaceful time to simply relax, rejuvenate and forget all the worries. When here, you can spend few wonderful days picnicking at the serene ‘Arthur Lake’, reconnecting with nature at the splendid ‘Umbrella Falls’ or satiating your adventurous selves by venturing on an enticing trek to ‘Mt. Kalsubai’, the highest peak of the beautiful Sahayadris. If some religious excursion is also on your minds during your trip to Bhandardara, hop on to a hypnotizing boat ride over shimmering waters of the Arthur Lake and visit the 1200 years old ‘Amruteshwar Temple’; its exquisitely calm ambience and a spectacular Hemadpanthi architecture will instantly take your breaths away. On your way back, stop by at the ‘Agatsya Rishi Ashram’ that finds its reference in the holy epic of Ramayana and where the great sage is believed to have presented Lord Ram and Laxman with the arrow to defeat Ravana.
If you are up for some pulsating water adventure the coming weekend, you would surely love to take a trip to Kolad, the hub of adventure sports in Maharashtra where thrill and excitement never ends. The place is located close to 4 hours’ drive from Mumbai and sits on the edge of the beautiful Kundalika River that truly lends it a picturesque natural charm; the region’s verdant forests and majestic hills further add to its charismatic beauty which magnetize countless nature lovers and holiday seekers from neighbouring towns. While white water rafting is the major draw of this undulating little town, tourists can also indulge in never ending fun of kayaking, boat riding, river rappelling, waterfall rappelling and paragliding. Camping is yet another great attraction here which brings in a lot of nature enthusiasts seeking to spend few wonderful days amidst serene wilderness of nature filled with soul-rejuvenating aroma of fresh unpolluted air and sweet music of chirping birds. Needless to say, the quaint town is also a paradise for hikers and trekkers and hides in its store, a wealth of scenic trekking trails that leave them with a fascinating time exploring them. For those who are into cave explorations, a visit to the ‘Kuda Caves’ in the proximity of Kolad definitely makes for a must and is sure to leave them with an overwhelming experience.
For those seeking an unmatched spiritual expedition for a long time should definitely take the coming long weekend as an opportunity to satiate their quests by heading to the famous pilgrimage destination of Bhimashankar. Cuddled amidst the beautiful Western Ghats, 200 km. from Mumbai via Mumbai-Pune Highway, the pilgrim town is known for enshrining one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and which needless to say, brings in swarms of devotees here throughout the year. The entrancing scenic aura of this little town filled with echoing sounds of the temple bells, chanting of mantras and sights of colourful birds, lend it such an idyllic ambience that truly makes every visitor fall in love with the place. During your holidays here, while first and foremost focus would definitely be to seek blessings of Lord Shiva at the sacred 13th century old ‘Bhimashankar Temple’, if you are a nature enthusiast, an adventure freak or a wildlife buff, you are sure to have a memorable time in Bhimashankar engaging yourselves in number of other exciting outdoor activities too; be it a wildlife safari expedition amidst thick woods of ‘Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary’, an eye-opening trek to the historic ‘Shivneri Fort’ or an enthralling cave exploration experience at the rock-cut ‘Junnar Caves’, you are sure to get back home taking along some fun-filled and interesting memories to cherish throughout your lives.
Situated in the Dang district of Gujarat, Saputara is yet another idyllic destination near Mumbai (located just 250 km.) that can be well-planned for a family holiday over a long weekend. Needless to say, the place is blessed with an outworldly scenic splendour and holds in its store, a number of sightseeing attractions that keeps all the visitors busy during their stay here. A conventional itinerary in this tourist town includes witnessing some enticing vistas of the region’s serene valleys enveloped by the lush Dang forests from the famous ‘Echo Point’, an interesting cable card ride up to the ‘Sunset Point’, a soul-soothing boating trip in the beautiful ‘Saputara Lake’ and a hair-raising wildlife excursion amidst the thick of the ‘Vansda National Park’. Besides these, the most unique attraction of Saputara and which definitely warrants a visit is the lovely ‘Artist Village’ that leaves everyone with a deep insight into distinct cultures and traditions of Bhil, Kunbi, Gamit and Warli tribes, the prime residents of the region. Take a walk through this rustic village and get awed with the beautiful and benevolent work of these artistic people; the vibrant colours of Warli Paintings, excellent craftsmanship of hand-woven fabrics and spectacular designs of jewellery & trinkets created from Bamboo would surely convince you to buy some. The village also provides for few accommodation options for the visitors, if you wish to experience a unique stay, do book a cottage here and contribute to upliftment of these underprivileged tribes.
Also known as the wine capital of India, Nasik is another enchanting destination near Mumbai that makes for a memorable long weekend trip. While the ‘Sula Vineyards’ in this prominent city of Maharashtra provide for a captivating time to wine lovers offering them an intoxicating retreat amidst expansive vine spreads full of hanging grapes and colourful flowering plants, there is much for cavers and spiritually inclined too in Nasik. ‘Panchvati’, a small holy site soaked in interesting tales of exile of Rama, Sita and Laxmana from the Hindu epic Ramayana, provide for an absorbing experience to ardent devotees of Lord Rama. ‘Sita Gufa’, a mystical cave believed to be the spot from where Sita was abducted by demon king Ravana, is located just nearby and makes for yet another interesting site to visit. If only religious excursion is on your minds during your holidays in Nasik, do make it a point to list ‘Trimbakeshwar Temple’, ‘Kapileshwara Temple’ and ‘Kalaram Temple’ too on your itineraries. And when in Nasik, regardless of whether you are on a religious trip or not, you just cannot miss taking a hike to the entrancing ‘Saptashrungi Temple’ perched at a cliff 1230 metres above sea level. Dedicated to Goddess Kali, the temple is one of the 51 Shaktipeethas and blesses every visitor with an eternal well-being. Needless to say, the temple’s milky white architecture standing tall against the contrasting green of the surrounding hills, provide for a spectacular visual treat that gets etched in your memories forever.
Small weekend vacations and holiday trips play a significant role in re-establishing a bond with your kids, families and friends. Moreover, they also give you the much needed break to get away from the monotonous routines and reconnect with your inner selves and nature around. So, when this long weekend, you are getting 3 days off, do make best use of the opportunity and plan for an outing either with your friends or family. And if you are falling short of holiday ideas, do scroll through the list of places listed above; you might hit a destination you are eagerly looking for.