Get out of the city and explore some unusual locations that are just a few hours' drive from Mumbai, says Dheera Majumder.
Mumbai can be quite sensational with its pace, sights, sounds and smells. Nonetheless, these few hideouts are a favourite among those who look to sneak out when they wish to relax their nerves. These places offer almost everything from soft adventure activities to quiet beach resorts, however with an edge, giving a different experience to the traveller.
Dissatisfied with a street view of the world and not quite impressed with Google maps' satellite view? Then perhaps it’s time for you to go climb a tree! One of the nicer places to do this is at the treetop residency created by The Machan in Lonavala. Located at Jambulne in the Sahyadri hills of the western ghats of Maharashtra, The Machan offers a view of the mountain top forts of Karai, Ambawane and Tungi from some of its tree houses. The other tree houses give you a soothing view of the tranquil waters of the Pawna and Mulshi lakes. However, if you’re looking for something a tad more plush then the Camp Canopy - the luxury machans with tented accommodation – might meet your requirements.
The Machan is an ideal place for treks along private paths and the resort organises regular guided treks. Since numerous migratory birds frequent its surrounding region, this resort is a paradise for bird watchers who could spot many species from the forest canopies. A clear night creates a perfect ambience for stargazing.
Distance from Mumbai: Approx 110 kms
Getting there: Take the Mumbai-Pune Expressway to Lonavala, head towards Amby Valley and drive down the private access road to The Machan. The resort is 17 kms from Lonavala and 8 kms before Amby Valley.
Costs: The Machan costs Rs 30,000 per night for up to six guests on weekends. The Camp Canopy costs Rs 12,000 per night for two guests on weekends. The costs are inclusive of breakfast and dinner.
Tel: 80877420/ 09594053113
For those who’d like an eco-sensitive holiday, an interesting option is a stay at Karpe’s Wadi, an agro tourist home-stay at Nagaon near Alibaug. Get back to basics with a taste of rural lifestyle as you rediscover time, live in cottages with the basic comfort facilities and lounge in a hammock. The home-stay owners serve local Maharashtrian cuisine cooked with fresh vegetables grown about 20 feet away from the cottage. Karpe’s Wadi is highly recommended by several city slickers who go there looking to experience a slice of rural life.
When there, why not get a little adventurous by trying speed-boating, jet-skiing, paintballing or parasailing organized by the resort at the pristine Nagaon beach. If you visit in April, you’ll also get to see the bullock cart races, a famous local attraction. The owners also conduct orientation camps and trails where you can see and learn to identify around 28 different species of migratory birds, as well as learn about farming – all during your stay and for no extra cost!
Distance from Mumbai: Approx 100 kms
Getting there: The easiest way to get to Karpe’s Wadi is by taking an hour-long ferry ride from Gateway of India to Mandwa jetty and then a 30 minute bus ride from Mandwa to Alibaug. Take a rickshaw from Alibaug to Karpe’s Wadi for Rs 150.
Costs: Packages start from Rs 399 per person for a day package.
Add: Karpe’s Wadi Agrotel, Suruche Ban, Satad Bandar, Nagaon (Palav), Raigad
Tel: 245801, 09822513531
One place to attain luxurious nirvana is at the opulent Ivory Resort at Kihim, near Alibaug. Live in air-conditioned tents and spend the evenings on the beach watching the sunset at this MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) approved resort situated on the beachfront.
This quaint little place is ideal for all who seek absolute silence and do not wish to see or meet too many people. We suggest you go there with your partner or your book. Also, gorge on their north Indian non-vegetarian cuisine, which is probably the best you’ll get in all of Alibaug.
Their personalised, yet non-intrusive service enhances your experience, and soon after returning home, you will start planning your next trip back here. Some of the nearby places of interest include the Fansad Wildlife Sanctuary, Birla Temple, Revdanda Church and the much popular Kashid beach.
Distance from Mumbai: Approx 110 kms
Getting there: By road, it takes approximately three hours via NH-17 and NH-48 to reach the resort. However, the best way to head to this place is by boat, take a ferry ride from Gateway of India to Mandwa Jetty and then take an auto/bus to Ivory Resort.
Costs: Rs 5000 per tent per night for weekends. Rates are inclusive of taxes and breakfast
Add: Kihim Village, Alibaug
Tel: 24918877/ 24926825
High on life
Some of us like to have our feet firmly on the ground while others want to go soaring off into the sky. If you are the latter, you’d probably want to try paragliding at Kamshet, reputed as a ‘paraglider’s paradise’. There are several ways for a quick flight: you can either opt for a tandem paragliding ride just to feel the thrill or learn paragliding in a short two-day introductory course or a three-day taster course. Those wanting to perfect this skill can opt for the five-day elementary pilot courses or club pilot courses organized by Fly Nirvana.
After an action packed day learning to fly high, unwind in a mesmerising view of the Vadivali Lake from your room at the Native Place, which offers comfortable lodgings for ‘highfliers’. You also have a chance to interact with amateur paragliders from across the globe during the barbeque weekend sessions.
Those not inclined to take an aerial view of things could visit remote villages, learn to fish, go trekking or birdwatching or just relax in your terrace with a good book. In-house yoga classes are conducted occasionally. Do visit the ancient Buddhist cave temples with exquisite carvings and magnificent statues of the Buddha at the nearby Karla, Bhaja and Bhedsa temples.
Distance from Mumbai: Approx 127 kilometres
Add: LV41/42, Native Place, Golden Glades, Vadivali Lake, Uksan village, Kamshet, Pune
Costs: A 10-minute Tandem flight costs Rs 2000. The two-day introductory course costs Rs 6500 and the three-day taster course costs Rs 9500. Each course package is inclusive of food, accommodation and transportation.
Tel: 022 2605 3724/ 02114 286287
If these getaways have excited you enough to already plan a trip to one of these places, take help from one of these travel agents in your cities-
Bangalorians can book through SGL Tours & Travels or Thrillophilia Adventure Tours;
Chennaiites plan the break with the help of Classic Tours or Vaanavil Tours;
Delhiites take a respite from the sweltering heat with the help of Diplomatic Travel Point or Oberoi Travels;
Hyderabadis contact Mondial Travel Agency or Golden Travels;
Amdavadis choose to take a break from business, plan the holiday with Shree Balaji Tours & Travels or Aesha Travels
Kolkata add some excitement to your life, contact Travel Maxx or Aparna Travel
Goans can indulge in a sushegaat trip, plan with Raj Travel World or Jet International Travels
Jaipur burrpers go ahead and plan your adventure through Bhatia Van Travels or Nainika Tours & Travels
whereas the folks from Mumbai and Pune can just rent a car and drive down to each of these destinations. Mumbaiites rent it through Shriji Car Rentals and Punekars call Pinewoods Car Rentals or A Car Rental Service.