Fatema Kothari, a 39-year-old housewife and tuition teacher, tutors 11 schoolchildren through the week and is usually exhausted by Saturday. So, she spends her weekends spending time with her husband, a businessman, cooking while her two sons play videogames, taking long afternoon naps and, in the evenings, watching TV with the family.
“My boys are busy with school and classes during the week, so on the weekend they prefer staying indoors,” says the Mazagaon resident. “Before we know it, the weekend is over.”
Last month, some relatives invited Kothari and her family to join them on a weekend in Kashid, Raigad district. The group drove down, stayed in a budget resort, spent two leisurely afternoons by the sea and even made a little bonfire on the beach at night.
“My sons were never fond of Mumbai’s unclean beaches, but in Kashid they had a great time wading in the water and making sandcastles. We did not even realise on Day 1 that there was no TV in the hotel,” says Kothari, who now goes on family weekend trips at least once every two months, to rejuvenate.
While Kashid, Alibaug, Janjira and hill stations such as Lonavala and Matheran have been popular holiday destinations for a long time, Mumbai is situated close to several other less-frequented destinations that are just as idyllic, if not more so.
From scenic forts to serene beaches, breezy vineyards to rural camps, you can choose a holiday suited to your specific tastes, all less than a five-hour drive from the bustling city.
“If you spend two days outside the city, without TV and gadgets, you will realise how much nature has to offer,” says Sushil Bhasin, a retired brigadier who runs the Empower Activity Camps at Kolad, Raigad, 120 km away, where the entire family is welcome to go parasailing, river-rafting, rappelling, raft-making, cycling and trekking.
For a fancier weekend, Narayangaon offers tours and wine-tastings at the Chateau Indage vineyards.
“I went to Narayangaon with friends. It is a truly beautiful place. At the vineyard restaurant, waiters helped us match the wine with our meal. We had a great time,” says Carol Lobo, 45, a freelance writer who made the trip last year.
If you are willing to take on something more strenuous, head to the 3,000-year-old Sudhagadh fort, 120 km away, where Mumbai-based tourism company Life Away From Life organised occasional camps. On January 28-29, you can sign up for a three-hour trek from the base of the hill to the fort at its summit, where you will pitch your own tent, light a fire with dry wood and cook your own meals on it. “Learning how to pitch a tent and make kettle tea on an open fire was fun,” says Jiten Mhatre, 32, a software engineer who has made the trip. “A team member also carried a guitar to the camp so we had some song and music at night.”
For scenic beauty closer home, head to Manori or Dahanu. Manori is actually within the city, though you would never think it, given the virgin beach, and its seafacing resorts dotted with hammocks lazily swaying in the breeze.
A sleepy fishing village makes for a scenic walk. You can also walk to the water’s edge early morning or evening to take a ride in a fishing boat, for just a few hundred rupees. The local population comprises mainly Kolis and East Indian Catholics, whose culture have been captured in Mobai Bhavan, the local museum.
Take a ferry from the Marve jetty in Malad across the creek. Room rates there range from Rs 1,200 to Rs 5,000.