DAY TRIPS AROUND MUMBAI, Mumbai
Out of the many treks in the Sahyadri region, Rajmachi is one of the most beautiful places to visit. I had been reading about treks near Mumbai for some time and finally along with 7 friends decided to go for this trek as it is relatively easy and recommended for beginners.
There are two routes to reach the top, One from Lonavala which is a 15km walk, but almost flat and boring; and the other from Karjat which is a gradual climb of 4 kms. We decided to choose the tougher among the two
We left Mumbai at 6:30 am and reached the base of the trek at Karjat(approx 100kms from Mumbai) around 9am. It is recommended to take help from a local if this is your first trek, but since we had a few experienced trekkers in our group we started ascending on our own.
After climbing and taking numerous stops(what do you expect from beginners :P) we finally reached the base of the forts (after about 3.5 hours). It was beautiful with greenery everywhere and such fresh air. It took us another 30 mins to climb up to the fort and believe me it was totally worth it.
The view was breathtaking, and when it started raining the raindrops were almost horizontal and the air current was so strong that sitting at the edge of the fort it sometimes felt that the drops were coming up instead of falling down. That feeling cannot be explained in words.
After spending an hour at the top, We went down and spent some time at the village near the base of the forts. We ate local food at a village house and took some rest there
It was time to go back. But, since the way we used to ascend was steep and it was already raining we decided to use the second route. This route was a little boring as it was mostly flat but on both sides was natural untouched beauty, greenery, small streams and waterfalls.
It was a very beautiful experience and I would totally recommend people to go for this trek and specially during or after the monsoons.
800kms on bike, 2 days, 4 locations, scenic roads, lots of driving and unlimited fun!
The trip started with the idea of doing a day bike trip to Diveagar and Harihareshwar. I had read that the beaches are secluded, clean and the route from Diveagar -> Harihareshwar is beautiful. So I left Mumbai on Saturday at 6:00am looking forward to explore some nice beaches, and drive on the meandering mountain roads.Here's my review of the places and the bike ride -
Divegar -> Harihareshwar: The route is really scenic, with mountains on one side and ocean on the other. Biking here is real fun as the roads are iwell maintained, the weather is good and there are very few vehicles on this track .
Harihareshwar-> Mahabaleshwar: By the time we were around 40kms away from Mahabaleshwar, it was already pitch dark. The mountain roads have no street lights and it starts getting a little chilly at night. While driving on the hilly track you can clearly see numerous stars in the sky and distant lights coming from villages in the valley. It is breathtaking, but you have to be cautious and drive safe
Mahabaleshwar->Panchgani : Traffic, Noise, People, pollution. I couldn't believe it, I had come all this way to find peace, calm and to be away from the rush of the city. But it seems, everyone in Mumbai decided to do the same.The hill stations are really crowded on weekends, and although the view is great, It wasn't the thing I was looking for.
Pune->Mumbai: The highway is really the ideal place for people who love speed. My bike flew @ 125km/hr.
I didn't find anything extra ordinary about the beaches at Diveagar and Harihareshwar. They are no doubt secluded and there's hardly anyone there, but I liked the beaches of Kashid more.
All in all, this trip was totally worth it. I would really like to do another trip on this circuit, but this time during/after the monsoons when the place becomes greener and more beautiful.
Sula Vineyards is near Nashik, around 180 kms from Mumbai. The Expressway is excellent, and driving is pure fun. It would normally take around 3 hrs to Reach Sula, but there are a few stops that you can take on your way. The road through Kasara is really beautiful and looks fantastic in early morning/late evenings. It is recommended to go a li'l offroute and take a stop at Vaitarna Dam, near Igatpuri. The road is in a pretty bad shape but you would not regret taking that path.
The water at igatpuri is very clean, and the place is so very quiet, peaceful and lovely.
Wine tasting and grape stomping are both worth travelling the distance from Mumbai. Sula Vineyards also hosts an annual wine festival called the SulaFest.
The trip to Mumbai is incomplete without paying a visit to Mumbadevi temple, the goddess of the city. Although the Mumbadevi Temple is not as striking as others are in the city, its resident deity, Mumbadevi, is the city's patron Goddess. The structure is about six centuries old, believed to be the handiwork of Mumbaraka, a sadistic giant who frequently plundered the city at the time. Terrorized by these unwelcome visits, the locals pleaded with Lord Brahma, Creator of all things to protect them. Brahma then "pulled out of his own body", an eight armed goddess who vanquished the brute. Predictably brought to his knees, Mumbaraka implored Her Holiness to take his name and built a temple in her honour. She still stands there, an orange faced goddess on an altar strewn with marigolds: devotees believe that those who seek her divine favour are never disappointed.
Elephanta Island is situated about 10 km northeast of Gateway of India. The island is about 1050 hectares big and has a population of 1600 inhabitants. Elephanta Island is famous for the rock cut Hindu temples and has been an Unesco World Heritage Site since 1987. In the main cave you can see impressive stone carvings; statues, shrines and pillars.
The temples were created in AD 450 - 750. At that time the island was known as Gharapuri, which means the town of Ghari priests, or is it place of caves. Well. I have come across both meanings and don’t know which is the correct one. In 1534, when the Portuguese came they saw a big stone elephant near the shore of the island and thus renamed it Elephanta Island. This statue can now be seen in Jijamata Garden in Mumbai (a place which I didn’t visit).
If you have visited Ajanta and Ellora and don’t have too much time in Mumbai I don’t think it is necessary to go to Elephanta Island as the caves there are not as impressive as the ones in Ellora and Ajanta. Well, the main cave is, but the rest is not.
It takes about an hour to go by boat to Elephanta Island (see my transportation tip for more information). When you arrive to the island the boat stops at the end of a long pier. After the pier you will walk past souvenir stalls and food stalls, and have about 120 steps to climb to the entrance where you pay the admission. Admission for foreigners in June 2010 was Rs 250. The caves are open Tuesday - Sunday between 9 - 17.
There's only one reason to come this far north: the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Borivali, open 7.30a.m. to 6.30p.m. Tuesday to Sunday admission Rs.20/-),One of Asia's busiest national parks,with around two millions visitors a year.
The park's two lakes- Vihar and Tulsi supply Mumbai with water. The park's forest is a mix of decidous and semi evergreen and contains a great diversity of wildlife, including tigers, leopards, lions, pythons, cobras, spotted deer, black napped hares, barking deer, porcupines and around 5000 diffrent kinds of insects.
Basilica of mount mary
area: mount marry road, bandra west
it is perched up on the hill alongside the mount mary's road and is commonly reffered to as the mount mary church.
it is the most popular church around this area, especially during the annual mount mary fair held in the month of september.
during this time thousands of devotees visit this church and the adjoining bandra reclamation area
Located at prabhadevi this splendid temple made of white marble is dedicated to lord ganesha. this is probably the most popular temple of mumbai and people from all over the city make a beeline from wee hours of the morning especially on tuesday, considered an auspicious day amongst hindus
Mumbadevi and other temples
area: mumbadevi road, near zaveri bazaar
this temple is names after the same goddess as the city mumbai.
it is probably the biggest temple amongst the sea of colourful hindu temples in the bylanes of bhuleshwar and kalbadevi.
the other temples that adorn this area are dwarkadheesh temple which has a row of monkey statues outlining its facade, ram temple dedicated to lord ram and the nar narayan temple.
area: navy nagar, colaba
The church of st john the Evangelist better known as the afghan church is a presbyterain cherch built by the british to commemorate the dead soldiers of the first afghan war of 1838.
this wat was a complete debacle from the british point of view where they suffered heavy casualities. the church began as a small chapel in what was then known as the " sick bungalows" (now the inhs asvini, the indian naval hospital)
this awesome structure has wide gothic arches and beautiful stained glass window.
the area around walkeshwar and banganga is line with 30 temples that give an extremely serene feel to the entire place.
the biggest of these is the walkeshwar temple dedicated to lord shiva. walkeshwar or sand god gets its name from the sand shivalingam established inside the temple. limgam is the male phallus and hindus worship lord shiva's lingam and its depiction if considered holy
Designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, Elephanta Island is home to cave temples dating from 450 AD to 750 AD. These caves were first carved by Buddhists, but as Buddhism declined in the region, Hindus continued to carve and use them. Locally, the island is known as Gharapuri, meaning "Place of Caves". The name Elephanta was assigned by the Portuguese, who took possession of the island in 1534 AD, and was derived from a large monolithic elephant statue that was once on the island (now located in Victoria Gardens in Bombay). The Main Cave on Elephanta Island ranks among the best cave temples in all of India. Elephanta Island is located in the Bombay/Mumbai Harbour, about 10km NW of the Gateway of India. It is a perfect day trip from the city and offers a respite from its traffic and pollution. A visit to the caves also provides an opportunity for a better understanding of Hinduism and its history. The hour-long boat ride begins at Apollo Bunder, next to the Gateway of India. For a more detailed description, check out my Elephanta Island page.
Elephanta Island is located about 10km north-east of the Gateway of India and is reached by taking a ferry from the Gateway. The island is home to some marvellous cave temples which are thought to have been created between the 5th and 8th centuries and are today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island, originally known as Gharapuri (Place of Caves), derives its name from a massive stone statue of an elephant that is now displayed in the Victoria Gardens in Mumbai. The island was named Elephanta by the Portuguese who found the statue.
There are three rock-cut temples caves on the island of which the main large one is of particular interest as it's dedicated to Shiva. This is the first cave you'll come to on your right after passing through the ticket booth. It dates from the mid 7th century and comprises of a pillared hall in which a small shrine with four entrances are flanked with huge guardians either side. The halls main sculpture is located in the central panel of the back wall. It features a huge triple-headed Shiva statue known as Mahesamurti. The three faces represent Shiva in his different manifestations - Preserver, Creator and Destroyer. The hall also features further incarnations of Shiva. The island makes for a good half-day trip from Mumbai. More info and photo's can be found on my Elephanta Island page below.
Open: 9am-5pm Tues-Sun. Closed Mondays. Admission: Rs250 for foreigners.
The island about 10kms from the south east coast of Mumbai and be reached by ferry from the Gateway of India. Elephanta Island was named by the 17th century Portuguese after the sculpture of an elephant head on the island by the landing area. The sculpture has now been relocated to Victoria Gardens (now Mumbai’s Zoo) In earlier times the island was called Gharapuri “The Place of Caves”. The island is well known for the cave temples and elephant caves which are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Bandstand in Bandra is a great place to visit. Great views of the Arabian Sea are abundant. Barista and Cafe Coffee Day are both great places to grab a coffee or cold drink before a strole down Bandstand. It is most busy at night and is a relaxing place to sit or walk and take great pictures. Just a short distance from Hill road.