Another long weekend is here and you can see how antsy everyone is, just waiting for this day to get over. It sure feels like a drag but what awaits is 72 hours of no work and only fun — well for most of us. But more often than not, we forget to make plans due to our super busy lives. Sure, it’s always there at the back of our minds, but we keep delaying, thinking we have time. But then, here comes Friday and we are still sitting at work cursing ourselves for not planning ahead. All you can do, then, is laze around in pyjamas with tubs of ice-cream. On most days, this would be the ideal plan, but a long weekend demands travel.
That’s where I come in as your saviour with a list of places near Mumbai you go visit without much planning. When you come back, you will be ready to face the insane Ganpati-led traffic but with a renewed burst of energy! Also, in time to make it to your relatives’ houses for darshan. Pack your bag and leave as soon as you’re done reading this.
45 minutes away by a ferry from the Gateway of India, this place is a popular destination for beach lovers. If you want some peace with blissful walks along the shoreline, head there now. Lined with shacks, you will get delicious seafood that will satisfy your taste buds too. You can indulge in some adventure water sports or head out for a walk around the Murud-Janjira fort. There is a little something for everybody!
How to get there: It’s a 3 hour drive from the city but TBH, the roads are terrible, so just hop on to the ferry and reach the beach in less than an hour. The ticket prices range from Rs 100 – Rs 500.
This serene little place near Igatpuri can make an overnight stay quite memorable. Dreamy hills surrounding a lake makes for the most picturesque scenery. A picnic under one of the trees or a boat ride will keep you busy all day. But the best of this hamlet is seen after the sun goes down. The whole sky lights up with a million stars and, on any given night, you are bound to see at least a few shooting stars. Star gaze all you want while you enjoy a scrumptious barbecue meal or some maggi, maybe? Be sure to carry your jackets as the temperatures drop by a few degrees post nightfall.
How to get there: A 2-hour drive from Mumbai, the road is nice and smooth. Or you can go to Igatpuri by train and then take an auto from there.
Where to stay: There are MIDC guest houses in Bhandardhara, but the real fun is in camping. Grab your tents or just lay down on a mat and you will not want the night to end.
There’s no better time to visit this little town along the Konkan coastline, named after the Hindu God Ganpati himself. This place is famous for Swayambhu, the temple where there is a 400-year-old Ganesh idol. There is much folklore that revolves around this 100-house town and the locals are a chatty bunch, so you are sure to hear a ton of interesting stories. Now coming to the beaches, they are mesmerising and surprisingly clean. Hog on typical Konkani thalis while lazing under the sun with a gorgeous view of the lighthouse in front of you.
How to get there: Based in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, the best way to reach this place is to make a road trip out of it. A 7-hour drive with a halt at Khed or Chiplun for a quick bite is ideal. You will get scenic views of the sea on the way, so it is definitely worth it.
Where to stay: There are various resorts and homestays here, but I think the best out of the lot would be the Blue Ocean Resort & Spa that is bang on the beach.
Home of the Warli culture, Silvassa stands between Mumbai and Gujarat. Having been a Portuguese settlement, you can still find traces of the community in a few nooks and corners here. If you are someone who loves history, take a walk inside the Silvassa Tribal Museum to know more about the natives. For the nature lovers, there’s a deer park that is tourist-friendly. Shop at the local market and take home some local, handmade stuff.
How to get there: There are 50-minute flights to Surat from Mumbai and then it’s a 2-hour drive. Or a better and certainly cheaper option would be to drive for 4-hours from the city itself. Plus, the scenery on the way is just mind-blowing!
Where to stay: Being the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, there are many authentic homestay options and beautiful forest villas near the deer park that will make your weekend a lot happier.
The hill station that treats a major part of our country with yummy strawberries is a must-visit in any season, really. After you have stocked up on the amazing Mapro produce, go ahead and enjoy a walk around one of the strawberry farms. A place full of sunset points, it ensures that your evenings are magical. Head to Echo Point and shout out loud to hear your voice coming back to you multiple times. You can also go down to Panchgani to strike off one more destination off your list.
How to get there: There are buses that travel frequently to the hill station. The drive is around 5-hours long and you can also stop in the village of Wai on the way, whose residents cook the most delicious Maharashtrian meals.
Where to stay: Enjoy a luxurious stay experience at the Glenogle bungalow, which is situated in an off-beat spot in the hills.
If you don’t want to spend most of your weekend travelling, you can make a day trip to Matheran and come back the same day. A small town in the hills, what people go there for is the trek up. You can either walk or take a horse, which, although a little scary, is quite the adventure. Or another option is to board the toy train, which is slow, but the views are stunning. Once up, explore the town by foot, watch the sunset at Monkey Point and get back chikkis as little treats. It’s the most beautiful during the monsoons, as there are so many natural waterfalls cascading down the hills. Plus, a romantic walk in the rain is always a good idea.
How to get there: The best way again would be to go by road. The roads can be a little harsh but the magnificent ghats will keep you amazed. You can also catch the train from Neral or cab it up from there for Rs 70 a person.
Where to stay: If you are planning to stay, then it has to be at the Woodside. Tried and tested, their food is just yum!