Mumbai is the snazzy city on the west coast of India, popularized by Bollywood or the Hindi film industry, but if you want to escape the frenetic activity and drama, there are some cool destinations nearby for a day trip.
1. Alibag beach
The sunny coastal town of Alibag lies a two hour ferry ride from the Gateway of India in Mumbai city. The town is famous for some great coastal cuisine like shrimps and the beach here is sunny and relaxed compared to other Mumbai beaches. The beaches are known for white sands and after some sunbathing, one can head off to cool restaurants for a great brunch. There is also the historic Colaba fort and the Revdanda fort that reminds one of colonial heritage.
Address: Raigad district, Maharashtra
Mumbai does not have many hills and if you want to hike in a hilly landscape close to the city, head off to Harishchandragad, a three hour drive from Mumbai city. This is a nature destination compared to the concrete in Mumbai and there are also spicy tea drinks available in stalls here to charge oneself up for the hike along the hills. There is also a temple of Lord Shiva located within few caves that gives a spiritual aspect to the hiking endeavor. There are hiking guides available and the town can be reached on the way to the popular Malshej Ghat nature area.
Address: Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra
3. Sula Vineyards
If you want to experience European style vineyard in India, where else to go but the Sula Vineyards a three hour drive from Mumbai city. The vineyards offer lot of open space and there are some great package tours of the vineyards besides the wine tasting and stomping on grapes. There is also the Gangapur dam in the area that lies in the backwaters and offers a scenic spot for peaceful meditation. The Sula Vineyards group also hosts a three day annual music festival and the Sula Fest, an annual wine festival. There is also a Vaitarna dam nearby and the place ranks as a picnic day trip destination from Mumbai.
Address: Gat 36/2, Govardhan Village, Off Gangapur-Savargaon Road, Nashik, Maharashtra 422222
Website: Sula Wines
This is like a Bollywood dream hill station near Mumbai where there are no motorized vehicles, just nature and frolicking and there is even a toy train to take one through the forest. The town is reached by a two hour train ride from Mumbai and offers fresh air, greenery and absolutely no pollution. There is a Charlotte Lake and Honeymoon Point and popular pastimes in the area include bird watching, trekking around the forest and observing wildlife. The area offers some great adventure near Mumbai in a day trip with hills, forests and valleys, all unadulterated.
Address: Raigad district, Maharashtra
5. Karnala Bird Sanctuary
A peaceful picnic spot close to Mumbai about one hour drive from the city and is home to lot of bird species and is a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers. There is also a Nature Interpretation Center and a trek to the Karnala fort that lies amidst the sanctuary. Lot of wildlife is seen in the sanctuary along with birds and this is definitely a naturalist paradise providing rock cut steps to the fort and naturalist inspiration. One can trek in the forest, watch birds, read the inscriptions in the fort or just eat in a corrugated roof shelter like a local.
Karnala Bird Sanctuary
Address: Panvel Taluka, Raigad district, Maharashtra
Website: Karnala Bird Sanctuary
6. Elephanta Caves
This is a cave temple complex near Mumbai on an island reached by ferry within an hour from the city. There are temples for Lord Shiva as the destroyer, creator and preserver of the universe and one can even spot Hindu monks that show style like Bollywood stars. The Ajanta and Ellora caves are similar cave temple destinations near Mumbai, but Elephanta is especially popular for its closeness to Mumbai. The rock cut temples and shrines give a spiritual twist to Mumbai city aside from the regular Bollywood fare. The island derives its name from a rock-cut elephant statue that was said to have been found in the island.
Address: Gharapuri Island, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400094
Website: Elephanta Caves
7. Naneghat Pass
Trekking destination close to Mumbai that is in ruins and offers a haunted trekking experience like a creepy B grade Bollywood film. The trekking route is cut through the mountains and one can even reach the town of Pune by the trek that lies down the mountains. Local tea or chai is definitely appreciated after some heavy duty trek and the tea is also served in a cave in the hills. One should be careful of the trek during monsoons as rain water can create slippery surface but if you are up for mountain climbing close to Mumbai city, you should definitely try this destination as a day trip.
Address: Western Ghats, Junnar, Pune district, Maharashtra
Website: Naneghat Pass
8. Sinhagad Fort
Literally meaning the fort of lion, this place can be reached easily from Mumbai in a day trip and lies very close to Pune. The fort is associated with Maratha leader Shivaji and his exploits in the area. The surrounding landscape of the fort is also ideal for trekking and this is a great outdoor destination with scenic green hills, black rocks and yellow hay grasslands. Lying more than 4,000 feet above sea level, the fort is definitely in a nature paradise that gets waterfalls after the monsoons and thick foliage. The area lies in the Sahyadri mountains and there is also a tranquil lake with a dam.
Address: Sinhagad Ghat Road, Pune, Maharashtra 411025
Igatpuri is famous for the Vipassana meditation center and is a fascinating day trip from Mumbai city. The landscape is dotted with dense forests, ancient temples, ruins and one can even trek away in the wilderness in the hills of the Sahyadri mountains. There are also pretty resorts in the area along with the ruins of forts and for relaxation, there are some soothing spas and holistic treatment centers
Address: Nashik district, Maharashtra
10. Malshej Ghat
This is a popular hill station close to Mumbai and a perfect day trip for relaxing and rejuvenating in the scenery of green hills and many waterfalls. Perfect for the nature enthusiast, the place offers trekking, hiking and bird watching and there are also resorts there that cater to these.
Address: Kalyan Ahmednagar Highway, Near Khubi Village, Kalyan, Maharashtra 421401
Website: Malshej Ghat
Want to experience Mumbai beyond Bollywood and the city lights?
Head off to cool and exciting destinations nearby to experience waterfalls, hill treks, caves or just simple Vipassana meditation in a commune.
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