Mumbai is perhaps the busiest city in the country and the hectic lifestyle here can leave you pretty overwhelmed at times. Thankfully, there are also quite a few hill stations within easy reach of this great city which will provide you respite from its chaos and traffic. While most Mumbaikars do not always get the time to go on a long vacation, these hill stations around the city are perfect for a weekend getaway and a trip to these places every now and then will leave you refreshed to come back to the city and take up your work again. Being situated close to the Western Ghats only helps. Here are some of the hill stations around Mumbai which you must definitely try out:
Lonavla is the most popular hill station near Mumbai and it is mostly due its close proximity to the city. The landscape is beautiful and there are forts to see, caves to explore and temples to visit. This small hill station actually attracts tourists from all over India but mostly from Maharashtra and Karnataka. It is also known as the Jewel of the Sahyadri. You can go on leisurely nature walks, and the waterfalls here are great backdrops for stunning photographs. Do not miss out the Buddhist caves and the inscriptions are a joy to see. It is also easily accessible by taking a train directly to Lonavla railway junction. The best time to visit is from October to June.
Distance from Mumbai: 95 km
Matheran is not only close to Mumbai but it is also an eco- friendly hill station which makes for a great weekend getaway. The name literally translates to Forest on the Forehead and it is the only automobile free hill station in Asia, as declared by the Ministry of Environment and Forests because it is an eco- sensitive region. The nearest railway station is Neral which is about 21 km from Matheran. Remember that you will not be allowed to enter Matheran in a vehicle so if you have your own car, then you have to park it at the parking zone before entering the region. You can go for horse riding here and also enjoy long and leisurely nature walks on the trail here. The best time to visit is from November to June.
Distance from Mumbai: 110 km
For some reason, it is known as the oldest hill station in the world and coming will indeed make time stop for you. The place is so named because of the five rolling hillocks surrounding the region and the lakes here are crystal clear. It is a great getaway for the family and you can also camp outdoors in the rolling meadows when the weather is conducive. The Krishna River flows through the region and it has carved out interesting rock formations here. The table top hill is a splendid place to catch a view of the hills around. The weather here is pleasant throughout the year but the best time to visit is between September to May.
Distance from Mumbai: 250 km via Expressway
This is supposed to be the biggest hill station in Maharashtra and also one of the most popular ones. Even the celebrities in Mumbai come here from time to time to relax and take in the beauty of the region. The third longest river in India, the Krishna, also starts near the Mahadev Temple in Old Mahabaleshwar. The hills here look straight out of a picture postcard and there are a large variety of flora and fauna to be seen here. There are lush green hills and waterfalls and you time will flow just gazing at them as you walk though the many trails in and around the hills. You can also enjoy boating in the Venna Lake here. There are a number of viewing points here like the Connaught Peak, Kate’s Point, Wilson Point and Elephant Point. The best time to visit is between October to June
Distance from Mumbai: 270 km via Expressway.
Apart from being a renowned Mumbai hill station, this also happens to be one of the best coffee plantations of Maharashtra. It is largely unexplored so you would not get the cacophony of tourists here, leaving you to enjoy the perfect tranquility of the place by yourself. It is said that this is where Bheema killed Keechaka in a ferocious hand to hand combat. This region is full of deep valleys and there are high majestic trees here, which is a very welcome sight coming from a concrete jungle like Mumbai. You can get here by taking a train to Badnera which is 110 km from Chikhaldara and then take a cab from there. You must visit the nearby Wildlife Sanctuary and the Melghat Tiger Reserve in the vicinity. The Bhimkund Shakkar Lake, the Kalapani Dam and the Wan Sanctuary are other notable places here which will keep you engaged through the weekend. The main viewing points here are Hariken Point, Sunset Point and Panchbol Point and they offer majestic views of the hills around.
Distance from Mumbai: 672 km via Expressway.
This is a new addition to the list of hill stations around Mumbai but it is quickly climbing the ranks to give the other hill station a run for their money. It is a planned hill station which is being developed in the reflection of the Italian city of Portofino. It has five planned townships and is stretched across seven hills. Because of the good roads, this has also become a popular destination for bikers who wind their way through the hills on their heavy duty motorcycles. The Varasgaon Dam is a very pleasant spot and there are provisions for quite a few water sports and adventure activities. A musical fountain and a laser animation show is also held in the evenings which the children enjoy thoroughly.
Distance from Mumbai: 185 km from Mumbai
This happens to be the smallest city in Maharashtra and yet it packs in a punch. The historic Panhala Fort is located here and there are a number of other medieval forts here as well, which are a joy to explore. Explore the Parashara Caves and enjoy the scenic beauty around Andhar Bay. There are a number of water tanks here, the Someshwar Tank being the most well known of them, and you can see a number of birds and butterflies around them. The Teen Darwaza, the Sajja Kothi and the Nayakini Sajja add to the historic significance of the place. An extended weekend is what you need to fully explore the place. The nature walks in and around the fort will leave you mesmerized. The best time to visit is between October to June.
Distance from Mumbai: 375 km from Mumbai
Karjat hill station is mostly famous for its caves and they extend over the Bhorghat, and the Sahyadri. Most of the caves are situated in the basin of the Ulhas River and there are a number of adventure activities to be enjoyed here as well like river rafting, trekking, hiking, and rock climbing and rappelling. You must also visit and explore the Peth Fort and the Kondana Caves. The ND Studio of Art by Nitin Chandrakant Desai is located here as well.
Distance from Mumbai: 67 km from Mumbai railway station.
Igatpuri happens to be the home of the world’s largest Vipassana meditation center and it is a very peaceful hill station as well. The place offers physical and mental well being all at once and the hills around the region are great places for a hike. The scenery here is so beautiful that many films are also regularly shot here. Do try out a meditation session at the Vipassana Center and the Dhammagiri Meditation Center. If you are visiting in the summers, a shower under the waterfalls would be most refreshing. The Bhatsa River Valley and the Camel Valley has some very scenic spots and the Tringalwadi fort will give you a little glimpse into history. There are two well known temples here- the Ghantadevi Temple and the Amruteshwar Temple and both of them attract a steady flow of tourists from surrounding villages round the year.
Distance from Mumbai: 130 km
Jawahar is often missed by tourists, mostly because it is small and quaint but that is what makes it so special. It is located in the Thane district of Maharashtra and nature is at its best here. There are rocky hills and dense forests, wild waterfalls and pleasant farms and you will have a great time coming across one beautiful aspect of nature after another. Jawahar is also culturally rich, as it is home to the popular Warli paintings, made by the indigenous tribes of the region. There are many centers here from where you may buy these paintings and they make for great items of home décor or gift items for your friends back home. There are a couple of historical monuments here as well like the Jai Vilas Palace and the Jawahar Fort. Do visit the Sunset Point and the Hanuman Point for a great view of the surrounding landscape. The Dabdaba Falls is a picaresque location and ideal spot for a picnic.
Distance from Mumbai: 141 km via NH 48
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