This summer, look beyond Aksa and Alibaug and sample the calm of these off-the-tourist-map destinations, just a drive away from the din of the city.
Life is a beach
Srivardhan and Harihareshwar : Perfect for a family holiday
It is summer – the time to head to the beaches. But instead of going on a hackneyed Goa trip, how about sampling some sandy shores closer to home with your entire family and taking a drive along the Konkan coastline? Hardly four hours drive from Mumbai, hugged by golden beaches, lies the quiet town of Shrivardhan– a perfect place to go beach-hopping, gorge on Konkan-style fish curry and rice, and spot some dolphins, all on one day.
If you have another day to spare, drive down to Diveagar and spend the evening riding quad bikes, speed boats, banana boats and water scooters with the kids. The 30-minute cliff side drive that joins the two beach towns, runs parallel to the coastline, offering panoramic views of the sea. There are tiny fishing villages strewn along the way, the most interesting of these being the one in Jivana Bandar, a small fishing port and auction centre near Diveagar. Stop by to pick up some juicy lobsters and fresh pomfrets or just to get a feel of a busy rural market if you have an appetite for either.
From Diveagar, you can either drive further north up to Kihim via Revdanda, and round off the trip with a visit to the majestic Murud-Janjira fort, or head to Harihareshwar.
This town, known as Kashi of the South, is famous for its temples, and the most ancient of these is that of Kalbhairav. Even if you are not a very religious person, a parikrama (which is more of a trek) of this pilgrimage site can be a delightful experience. The long winding path cuts between two hillocks studded with beautiful rock sculptures and small natural caves and niches, before reaching the sea. And if you still want more, a 15-minute ferry ride from Harihareshwar, is the ruins of Bankot fort.
The secluded, small, square-shaped fort almost juts out to the sea offering a breathtakingly beautiful 180-degree view of the Savitri River meeting the Arabian Sea beneath. The sunset here is absolutely stunning, but keep track of time. The last ferry leaves before sunset, and that means if the sun has disappeared, so has your boat.
Places to stay: There are many resorts, homestays and BnBs in and around Srivardhan and Diveagar, but if you are staying in Harihareshwar, the MTDC resort is your best bet.
Of rafts and rapids
Kolad: An ideal trip for friends looking for some adrenaline rush
If your gang needs some adventure on the weekend and rafting through wild rapids is your thing, this might be the place for you. About 112 km (two hours by road) from Mumbai is the best white-water rafting destination in Maharashtra, Kolad. Situated on the Sahyadri mountain range in Raigad district, its known for waterfalls and dams, and is slowly waking up to tourists thanks to various adventure sports opportunities. Apart from rafting, zip-line crossing, kayaking and canoeing on the pristine Kundalika River, you can also opt for paragliding, trekking, snorkelling, rock climbing, mountain biking and waterfall rappelling.
Although it has the rare distinction of being the only year-round rafting destination of the country, Kolad looks its best during the monsoon with its billowing waterfalls and stream-strewn lush green landscape. For those who just want a weekend’s break to rejuvenate, simply sitting at the balcony of one of the resorts here, admiring the beauty of nature, can do the trick. In the evening you can drive to the nearby Sukeli, Vardayini or Valse waterfalls or opt for an old-school picnic at the Bhira dam. And if you still have a day to spare, head to the Kuda caves. Situated 37 km from Kolad on the Janjeera hills, these Buddhist caves built between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD, offer a wide angle view of the valley below. Situated merely 37 km from Kolad on the Janjeera hills, these group of 26 rock-cut Buddhist caves give a glimpse into the history of India between 1st century BC - 3rd century AD, along with a wide angle view of the valley below
In the land of the Lotus-eaters
Jadhavgadh: When you are in the mood to just laze around and enjoy the good things in life
If you want to indulge in some royal pampering on a weekend, your destination lies just two-and-a-half hours away from Mumbai. Fort Jadhavgadh is a 300-year-old fortress spread over 25 acres built by Pilaji Jadhavrao, the Maratha chieftain of Chhatrapati Shahuji, grandson Chhatrapati Shivaji. Today it is a heritage hotel with five-star ratings and offers services designed to make you feel like royalty. Imagine being welcomed to the sound of trumpets! There is a spa, a temperature-controlled pool and in-house restaurants that serve up platters fit for the kings. You can also check out the museum inside the property.
The best room is the Maharja Suite, which has a terrace of its own. Once you are satiated, you can go birdwatching or just take a leisurely stroll through the adjoining farmlands or even trek to the nearby mountains. If you are lucky you might spot a few deer en route.
Since this property is half-an-hour’s drive from Pune, you can also take a day trip to the erstwhile capital of the Maratha empire and visit the ruins of Shaniwar wada, the seat of the Peshwa rulers, or Shinde Chhatri, mausoleum of Mahadaji Shinde, who was one of the three pillar of Maratha Resurrection that happened after the third battle of Panipat. And if that is too much of history lesson for one day, head to the Osho Ashram for some inner peace, and those famous colourful Osho chappals.
Places to stay: Fortjadhavgadh.com.
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From HT Brunch, March 27
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