People keep asking me, “I’m in Mumbai this weekend, what are the places near me, where can I go?”. This is generally not the kind of article we would write, but here we are. Where CAN one go? Well, where there is peace and less crowds, a good atmosphere, a nice place to stay and good food.
Like any city, Mumbai has plenty to visit. And I won’t mention the overdone Lonavala/Khandala.
For starters, one can try Kamshet . Kamshet, a small village about 110 km from Mumbai, is located next to the Indrayani River and a few lakes nearby. Kamshet has paragliding companies and is generally a sleepy place to relax. It also has an arts and theater festival. There are places where you can stay to write your book, because there are few distractions. Just look it all up.
Pune itself is now a big city, with a lot of traffic, but it is very close to my heart. I find the town very charming, with its old bungalows, large cafes, many restaurants and quaint streets. Pune is worth a visit just for eating out.
Near Pune, is Saswad . beautiful grasslands, home to the critically endangered Indian Gray Wolf and the Chinkara, Saswad has one or two decent places to stay, but the scenery is worth a visit. Try monsoons are winters here.
Bhigwan is further from Pune, but it has a wonderful birding spot and is listed as an Important Bird Area. I had visited many years ago where there was no place to stay. I think another visit is underway.
Mulshi – Pavana : Another good place to visit is the area around the lakes Mulshi and Pavana. Over time, many homestays and resorts have been added. Mulshi, also about 170 km from Mumbai, is hot in the summer, brilliant in the monsoons and cool in the winter. Drive through Mulshi towards Tamhini Ghat in the monsoons for an excellent experience of waterfalls, jungles and fog.
For someone who wants to go a little further, I would suggest Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, although they are a good 280km from Mumbai and take about 6-7 hours to reach, avoiding weekends. The twin towns of Panchgani – Mahabaleshwar are considered ‘hill stations’ and have cool winters, very heavy monsoons (last year Mahabaleshwar had heavier rains than Cherrapunjee), but plenty of places to stay and some decent places to walk. You have to be very careful when choosing where to stay as most places are mediocre. The food is generally bad. The weather could be better.
About 130 km from Mumbai, through a 70% dreadful route is Malshej Ghato . Malshej Ghat, a beautiful village in the Sahyadri Mountains, surrounded by hills and forests, blows most of the year. It has a large lake nearby, the Pimpalgaon Joga, and has plenty of hiking trails nearby. The food is mediocre.
Not far from Malshej Ghat is Junnar . Near Junnar are the Shivneri Hills, where the great Shivaji Maharaj was born. Another reason that draws us to Junnar is the forests and that Junnar has one of the highest densities of leopards. There are some good agritourism lodging options available here, although we haven’t stayed there yet. It seems the food is nice there.
Bhimashankar is a beautiful dense forest about 210 km from Mumbai. Bhimashankar, a notified nature reserve, is worth a stay and a trek. Spend a few good days trekking through the jungle, exploring nature and getting your mind off things. Choice of stay is not great but the place is great.
Somewhere in this area loves Matheran, an old ‘hill station’. The unique thing about Matheran is that no vehicles are allowed into the city. You can walk alone or use horse-drawn carriages or horses. (Maybe this is the reason I haven’t visited Matheran in the last 14 years). It has numerous old bungalows that have been converted into hotels, resorts and homestays. Depending on where you stay, the food can be great. There is a toy train that can take you to Matheran or you can drive your car and leave it in the communal car park (a feeling that doesn’t sit well with me, I love my car way too much). But the forest walks and views are amazing. Matheran is great all year round, although the summers can be hot in the sun and monsoons, it can rain too much.
Go to the Karnala Bird Sanctuary , which is so close to Mumbai. An important bird area, it has a fortress to draw to. There aren’t many great places to stay, but it’s barely 75km from Mumbai.
Around a similar distance is Nashik . On the banks of the river Godavari, which is considered a holy city, Nashik is also called Dakshin Kashi. (In fact, the river Godavari starts from a place called Trimbakeshwar on the outskirts of Nashik) . Apart from many religious sites, Nashik is the wine capital of India with numerous vineyards and their lodgings that have recently mushroomed. Aside from the vineyards, Nashik has a good vibe, a place to relax and unwind. The food is generally tasty. Very close to Nashik is Deolali , an old Cantonment town with many old sanatoriums and bungalows to view. Worth a visit.
In the same direction as Nashik is Bhandardara , a small hilltop village. It is located on the shores of Lake Arthur, one of the largest lakes in Maharashtra. An ancient temple of Amruteshwara is worth a visit in the forests of Kalsubai Wildlife Sanctuary which surrounds Bhandardara. There are numerous hiking trails here. Food is mediocre. Views are breathtaking.
Towards the coast, which is known as Kokan, there are many places worth mentioning. Alibag start with. But it’s very well known here and I won’t go into details.
Ergens langs dit stuk zijn plaatsen zoals Eenzame, Chiplun, Roha enz. die hier en daar een fatsoenlijke plek hebben om te verblijven. Om nog maar te zwijgen over individuele gastgezinnen in dit artikel.
Ga een beetje naar het zuiden van Alibag en je bereikt Kashid. Een prachtig strand aan de ene kant en het Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary aan de andere, Kashid is een bezoek waard. Ook in de buurt van Kashid is het enorme paleis van Murud Janjira. Bezoek het geweldige fort Padma Durga, gebouwd op een eiland in de Arabische Zee bij Murud Janjira. Het eten in dit stuk kan meestal teleurstellend zijn, tenzij je iets heel authentieks vindt en dan kunnen de smaken je versteld doen staan. Er zijn een aantal fatsoenlijke plekken om hier te verblijven. Zoek rond.
Verder naar beneden van Kashid ligt de tempelstad Harihareshwar. De oude tempel gewijd aan Lord harihareshwar, of Shiva, is prachtig en zeker een bezoek waard. Het is nu erg populair geworden, maar bijna 18 jaar geleden, als student, fotografeerden we iets in de buurt en waren we in de tempel gebleven. Toen was het veel minder druk. Harihareshwar heeft een prachtige rotsachtige kust vol met vele vele krabben. En aan weerszijden van deze tempelstad zijn twee badplaatsen van duiker en Shrivardhan. Zowel mooie stadjes als goede stranden. Vind hier een fatsoenlijk verblijf en eet lokaal eten. Het lokale eten in Diveagar dat we hadden was geweldig. Vermijd elk menu dat niet-lokaal is.
Er zijn veel kleine en mooie stranden langs dit stuk, zoals Harnai, Velas, Ganapatiphule, Ratnagiri enz., maar ze raken steeds verder van Mumbai en misschien niet bepaald voor een artikel met de titel “plaatsen om te bezoeken bij mij in de buurt”.