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Distance from Mumbai | 80 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | October – May
This Asia’s only automobile-free hill station is also India’s smallest. Matheran is a popular weekend getaway with Mumbaikars for whenever they feel the need to disconnect. An eco sensitive area, the whole of Matheran is a luxuriant green, covered in dense evergreen trees and its lakes, parks and numerous view points are best explored walking. It is not uncommon to see butterflies everywhere or spot a wide variety of wildlife from the Matheran Giant Squirrel to Golden Langurs. Getting here by the hundred and ten year old narrow gauge heritage Matheran Hill Railway from Neral will only add to the experience.
2. Malshej Ghat
Distance from Mumbai | 135 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | October – March
Malshej Ghat is one destination that you can choose to go either in the monsoons for its glorious waterfalls or in the winter for the flamingoes that dot the horizon. Though the drive through this beautiful mountain pass in the verdant western ghats is a good enough reason to take this trip, there are quite a few things to do here. Walk along waterfalls or go birdwatching at the Pimpalgaon Joga Dam on the Pushpawati River. One can even take a short detour to visit the Shivneri Fort where the great Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was born.
Distance from Mumbai | 165 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | August – December
Trek routes and forts abound in Bhandardara, but it is the pre monsoon fireflies camping that has pushed Bhandardara to the top of the weekend getaway list for the folks in Mumbai – Pune. Sitting on the banks of the River Pravara near Igatpuri, this verdant village has enough lakes, dams and waterfalls for one looking to unwind outdoors in the lap of nature. Maharastha’s most popular trek route, to the state’s highest peak, the Kalsubai Peak also starts here, from the nearby village of Bari.
Distance from Mumbai | 235 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | December – June
Once the summer capital of the British in the Bombay province, this hill station in the Sahayadris is one of the few evergreen forests in India. Also the starting point of the River Krishna that flows through Maharashtra and three of its adjoining southern states, there is an eight hundred year old temple dedicated to it in Old Mahabaleshwar. With its vast strawberry fields, panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and the gorgeous waterfalls that dot them, Mahabaleshwar makes for the perfect monsoon road trip.
5. Kaas Plateau
Distance from Mumbai | 270 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | September – October
Literally meaning Plateau of Flowers, the Kaas Plateau is a rocky plateau near Satara that could be compared to the Valley of Flowers in the Himalayas. For between the months of August and September, here bloom a legion of wild flowers, quite a few of which are not even found anywhere else. A biodiversity hotspot with over eight hundred and fifty varieties of flowering plants, it is a treasure trove of butterflies too. Kaas Plateau is two hundred and seventy kilometres from Mumbai.
Distance from Mumbai | 585 Kilometers
Best Time to Visit | November – March
The Portuguese called it the Rome of the East, one of may agree or disagree but one cannot take away from the fact that Goa sure is the coolest place in India. From the balmy beaches to the weekly flea markets, from the wild parties to the exciting food options, all of which makes Goa so sought after, is something that is deeply ingrained in popular culture and needs no mention. But there is so much more of Goa take in. Its seventeenth centuries convents and churches, the fishing villages and spice plantations, all just waiting to be explored, slowly.