Weekends are about wide open spaces. Yes, even if you live in Mumbai or Pune. For, within a radius of 200km, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has set about promoting getaways that’ll make you wonder why you didn’t hit the road earlier. Now that the skies are still overcast and the wind cool, it’s time to tank up and step on the accelerator for...
Bhandardara: Around 180km from Mumbai and 191km from Pune (via Ghoti), this
popular winter destination is spectacularly beautiful in the monsoon. With its towering hills, gushing waterfalls and lush greenery, Bhandardara is a sight for city-sore eyes. From the largest earthen dam in India (dating back to 1910), to the highest peak in Maharashtra (Mt Kalsubai, 1,646m) and the mythology-famous Agastya Rishi Ashram, this spot has something for everyone—especially history fiends and trekkers.
Rain-soaked: Bhandardara has the largest earthen dam in India, and the highest peak in Maharashtra.
Malshej Ghat: Flamingos flock here, so do trekkers. Imagine low-lying clouds, fields of wild flowers, an important fort or two, ancient Buddhist caves and some of the best hiking trails in the state—and you’ll probably have just an iota of an idea why the 154km distance from Mumbai (164km from Pune) to Malshej Ghat in the Western Ghats flies by on wings of speed.
Lonavala-Khandala: The twin hill stations may be something of a cliché, but as with most cliches, they have a kernel of truth—and no, we aren’t talking about the chikkis. Trekking, cycling, hiking are just some of the ways in which you can discover the quieter side of these hills: Look out for the rock-cut Karla caves, among the finest extant examples of Buddhist architecture in India. Apart from a representation of the Buddha, there’s an aisle with 37 pillars and carved elephant heads.
Amboli: Fair enough, it’s all of 549km by road from Mumbai (390km from Pune), but the last elevations of the Sahyadris are so worth the drive, we couldn’t resist sneaking them into this list. Umpteen lookouts provide vistas of the lush hills and fertile plains of Maharashtra; the aptly named Seaview Point, on clear days, showcases the entire stretch to the Konkan coast. Try your hand at angling at Hiranyakeshi, or plan a picnic at Nagatta Falls. Or trek to the bauxite mines, 10km away.
Top angle: The peaks of Amboli offer panoramic views of the lush valley.
MTDC accommodation available at each place, ranging from Rs650 to Rs3,300 for double, triple or group occupancy, valid till 30 September. For bookings, call 18002335050/ 022-22845678, or log on to www.maharashtratourism.gov.in -
Photographs by MTDC
A break on I-Day
Though Independence Day this year doesn’t really make for an extended weekend, here are a few deals that might change your mind about staying put in the Capital. Leisure Hotels, with properties all over Uttarakhand, has special weekend packages
for 14-16 August. Our top picks:
A roaring good time: The Riverview Retreat at Corbett National Park provides horse safaris and walks. Photograph by Leisure Hotels
• At Fort Unchagaon, an hour away from Bulandshahr and 110km from Delhi, a couple would pay between Rs6,400 and Rs7,600 for two nights and three days that combine chilling out in the orchard with horse-riding and bullock-cart rides.
•The Riverview Retreat, Corbett National Park, offers a getaway in every sense of the term, with jeep, elephant and horse safaris, a swimming pool, nature walks and evening bonfires. The two-night and three-day package costs between Rs11,999 and Rs13,999 per couple.
• A little further away, in Kausani, the Sun n Snow Inn package throws in guided walks through a tea estate, a forest walk to the locally venerated Rudradhari temple, and the promise of panoramic views of Himalayan peaks, including Nanda Devi, Trishul, Nandakot, Panchchuli and Chaukhamba. Expect to pay Rs7,999 per couple for two nights and three days.
For more details or to make bookings, visit www.leisurehotels.co.in or call 011-46520000.