Though this national park is far away from the other "touristy" places in Mumbai, one should take the time out and spend some time in and around the "lungs of the city".
it's a great place to visit in the monsoons, when the place is amazingly green and dense with foliage, and an great variety of fauna. It is a bird watcher's paradise. There are some old caves to explore: the Kanheri Caves -
it is the biggest Buddhist monastic establishment on the Konkan coast. It is situated in the heart of the National Park and is one of the better-known sites in Mumbai.
The Film City is also in the area covered by the national Park. One could spend the day there, rubbing shoulders with the stars! Or maybe just being lucky enough to be part of the movie, in the background!!!
There is a Lion Safari, which is not really worth a try, unless you want to end up feeling sorry for the few straggly, starving lions who look at you through empty eyes.
It's a different view of the city. Who could imagine such a forested area in the middle of the concrete jungle???
This is a secluded part of Mumbai. It is ideal for a short getaway from the madness of the city. The beach is clean and pretty quiet on weekdays – but be ready for a surge over weekends. The waters here are not safe for swimming due to strong currents. Every year many people die here due to drowning so it is best avoided. There are a couple of nice places to stay there. To get there, take a train to Malad station and either a bus or an autorickshaw to Manori pier. Better yet take a taxi to the pier from anywhere. Take the ferry across and then a horse buggy or autorickshaw.
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.
Kashid is definitely one of the best beaches on the Konkan coastal strip of Maharashtra. It has pure white sand and the surf that breaks here is excellent.
HOW TO GET THERE : Kashid is around 20 km south of Alibag and is on the way to Murud. From Alibag, take the road to Revdanda. This road will pass over a long bridge over the ocean. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right for Kashid. Instead of turning right, if you turn left and go for about a kilometre, you will reach the Vikram Vinayak Mandir (Birla Temple). This is a beautiful temple built of marble The scenery, as the road progresses further south from Korlai, sometimes hugging the shoreline, sometimes climbing up thickly wooded slopes and then climbing down again offering stunning glimpses of Kashid’s beach, rates a perfect ten.
WHERE TO STAY 1 PRAKRUTI/ KASHID BEACH RESORT
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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.
Visit the famous Elephanta Caves or Gharapuri as they are also known as in the local tongue Marathi, situated at about 10 kms away from the Gateway of India and approachable by boat from there as well as from Ferry Wharf too!! The island houses the mystifying rock cut temples which date back to the 7th century AD. The chief attraction is the huge 3-headed bust of the Lord Shiva also popularly known as 'Trimurti'. These rock temples in the caves are a fine example of hindu architecture at it's best!!! Boats do not always operate during the monsoon season due the choppy seas!!! Tickets are Rs10 for Indians and $5 (Rs250) for foreigners. The ride to Elehanta Islands is Rs100 by boat and it takes about an hour to traverse the 9 kilometer distance!!! On the way to the islands you will see a lot of ships anchored at sea and also a few of the smaller islands as well as the nuclear reactors and the petroleum refineries!!! No night stay is possible on the island and everything is very expensive on the island so be prepared for higher rates even for a bottle of mineral water!!!
Take a 15 minute Ferry trip from the Gateway of India to the Elephanta Caves .
The 'City of Caves', on an island in the Sea of Oman close to Bombay, contains a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave.
The island was the capital of the powerful coastal kingdom and the excavations of the caves in the 6th century added to the glory of the kingdom. Later the Portuguese took possession of the island and as they first found a monolith elephant the island was named Elephanta.
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.
Just through the ticket box for the caves is the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) Site Museum. UNESCO provided initial funding to the ASI to improve the Elephanta Island site. The museum is small but worth a few minutes either upon arriving or entering the caves site.
Location : Elephanta Island
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.
For a few dollars you can have yourself carried in a Palanquin (sedan chair) up the steep stone staircase that leads to the entrance of the caves… or you can do as most, and walk it yourself, often stopping to catch your breath. No I didn't try it. It would have been fun, if not a little hair-raising, but I just couldn't do it. It seemed that no one else was brave enough or less self-concious to try it either when I was there.
Location: Elephanta Island
At the other end of the pier are a few stalls selling handcrafts, souvenirs and refreshments as well as a few cafe’s for something more substantial. You will then see the stone stairs which meanders fairly steeply up to the top of the hill to where the caves are.
On the way up the stairs you have a good excuse not to reveal how unfit you are by stopping to look at the stalls that line either side. The whole staircase is bathed in blue from the bright canopy’s above it. You can find anything here from jewellery, bags, books, sandstone tricket boxes, painted leaves to carvings and t’shirts.
Location : Elephanta Island
Enroute up the stairs or at least at the top you will come across monkeys. Even blue ones if they are sitting under the shade cloth. Be careful of them as they will whip things out of your hand before you know it, especially drinks or food. Also beware of women with metal canisters on their head posing by the gates at the top. If you take their photos, they will expect payment.
Location : Elephanta Island