InOnIt Guides: Summer Weekend Getaways
2013. I think I’ll always remember this year as the one that got by the fastest. It’s mid May already and the sun is persistent in its effort to boil us to misery. I can see summer vacations waving out to us, saying goodbye, getting smaller as they move farther away. Let this magical time not escape you, because what will follow will be the most dreaded of Mumbai’s seasons, the monsoons. Trips to the beach will be forgotten and all your heart would desire would be to have coffee, to emerge victorious from the train battle and to keep the insides of your shoe soles dry! So, here are 11 magnificent getaways for you to get in on while it’s still summer. Go make hay while the sun shines, quite literally!
Kolad is God’s gift to us for going through infinite deadlines, Mondays and spaced out weekends. A holiday destination with a purpose, this one is perfect for those who seem to have lost the will to keep it together in a city but hate wasting a good weekend on seemingly mindless tasks. Located in Raigad district, in Roha taluka, it is a mutli-functional getaway. It has forts, caves, dams, lakes, waterfalls and rivers. But the main attraction continues to be river rafting on Kundalika river and adventure sports such as rafting, rappelling, jungle camping, kayaking, parasailing and other outdoor activities.
* Campfire and Barbeque are a must if you wish to enjoy the forests and the outdoors.
For the nature lovers amongst us, Malshej, with its beautiful waterfalls is like a dream come true! Home to hundreds of varieties of fauna and flora, this site is also famous for its dark woods where tigers, leopards, peacocks and rabbits dwell. Another major attraction is the nearby Harishchandragad or the Harishchandra Fort, perfect for those who love the exhausting thrill of going up and down a mountain (read: trekking).
* Be camera-ready at all times as you might get to see the pretty mating dance of the pink-legged Flamingo birds.
* Do not expect posh restaurants and malls, although there is a resort run by MTDC called Flamingo Hill.
Does the idea of a fort that stood undefeated by the Dutch, Maratha and English ruffle your patriotic feathers? If so, this getaway is for you! The fort, which stands tall by the Arabian Sea coast near the port town of Murud, has 19 round bastions still intact. Prominent Ashoka Chakras on all the major gates of the fort, images of elephants and lions and the still undamaged palace of the Nawabs is enough to attract an army of tourists here. But what we were most fascinated by was the presence of secret gates and tunnels to hide and escape. Sounds pretty ninja-esque, right? Well, that’s just how cool our warriors were!
* Don’t miss the largest cannon called Kalak Bangadi weighing over 12 tonnes when you visit this site.
White sand, blue seas, mountains, rivulets and paddy fields. Sounds like your perfect idea of paradise, doesn’t it? Ours too. This paradise has now come down on earth in the form of a beach town by the shores of the Arabian Sea. As majority of Kashid is privately owned, there are only a few small hotels. While surfing is possible on the beaches of Kashid, it isn’t recommended during the monsoon months of June to September as the waves reach dangerously dizzying heights.
* Kashid is better accessible by road than by rail as it is 30 km from Alibaug and regular buses ply between Thane and Murud, halting at Kashid.
* Instead of putting up at hotels, try and look for cottages built by the locals as you will then get to enjoy brilliant Konkan food.
‘Come walk with me along the beach, where sunsets seem within reach, we’ll search for treasures in the sand, as we walk hand in hand.’ Enough said? Well, if you have to know, Kihim at 12 km from Alibaug, is a rocky, black sand beach. Get the ferry to reach here most quickly and be in thrall of the Khaderi and Underi Forts that make up the coastline and cast a shadow on the horizon. With main attractions such as the 250 year old Kankeshwar Temple with the silver plated idol and water sports such as parasailing, this getaway is an amalgamation of the old and new forms of ‘chilling’.
* Apart from the summer months, try and also visit Kihim during the lunar month of ‘Shravan’ as a shivling mysteriously appears only to disappear and reappear, the next year.
Bordi makes an appearance as one of those rare beaches that are absolutely family oriented, calm, clean and uncluttered. As the water of the beach does not rise above waist level, this site is relatively safe for little children. Because of its proximity to Mumbai, white beaches and delicious Chikoos, Bordi is now one of the hottest destinations for Mumbaikars, to ironically beat the heat.
* Do not forget to indulge in some hearty Parsi fare as the Bordi community consists mostly of Parsis.
* Udwada, an important place of worship for the Zoroastrians is also a must-visit site as it has a large, beautiful temple that houses their sacred fire, which has been kept alive for more than a century.
* Tourists can also shop for homemade chips, pickles, chikki and powder made of dried Chikoo.
“What are men to rocks and mountains?” is one of my absolute favourite quotes. And with good reason too. After all, aren’t mountains, brookes and fruits the things that make you realise what a tiny speck you are in this vast, vivid world? Durshet has all of this and more. Nestled in the lap of Sahyadris, with River Amba flowing through it, Durshet is truly spectacular. With unique tree top rooms, tiled huts, dorms and other forms of lodging along with the option to go trekking and trudging, Durshet has something for everyone.
* Don’t miss watching butterflies lay their eggs on their favourite plants or get intoxicated on nectar.
* For those in love with adrenaline rushes, there are also activities such as rock-climbing, rappelling and river crossing that take place here. Do check before you arrive!
Daman is the underdog of weekend getaways. We all know it’s there, but rarely does it crop up in conversations about vacations. Mostly known for the inexpensive alcohol that you get there, there is definitely more to Daman than meets the eye. A Union Territory, which lies more in Gujarat than it does in Maharashtra, it is 4 hours away from Mumbai, taking into consideration Vapi, its closest railway station (7km). From there on, there will be autos that you need to take to reach Daman. Once there though, the thought of Mumbai will scarcely ever cross your mind. With pristine sands, beaches, colonial architecture and Portugese Churches, Daman has an old world charm that will wrap its way around your heart.
* Shops and stores are few and far apart that also close down comparatively early. So buy your supplies well in advance.
Velas, a village in Ratnagiri district, deserves a special mention amongst all the other places. Full of delightful quirks, the villagers here have taken it upon themselves to honour and preserve their heritage and wildlife. Close to Harihareshwar, Velas is famous for its beaches no doubt. It is also famous for its scenic beauty and tranquillity that is so novel to us Mumbaiites. But what fascinated us the most was the Turtle Festival that the Kasav Mitra Mandal from Velas holds. You will get to witness the miracle of nature from a close range as turtles make a dash for the ocean as soon as their eggs are hatched. Sounds enthralling, doesn’t it?
* Don’t miss out on visiting the Marine Turtle Knowledge and Information Center as well as the Marine Turtle Research and Conservation Center while at Velas to know some amazing facts about Sea Turtles.
* Lodge with the locals for a truly gratifying experience as you get to enjoy simple home-cooked food, and humbling living conditions.
Lakes, dams and parks make up the most of what Silvassa has to offer. A scenic, non-manic town, this getaway will have you going back in time with its Portuguese Churches and museums. Its lakes have boating facilities that have enchanted millions with the lure of simply watching time go by while you sit idle in the middle of a vast expanse of water, as birds fly and the sun sets. For lovers of architecture and religion, there also are several temples here dedicated to Lord Krishna, Lord Balaji and Lord Shiva.
* Don’t miss out on the Lion Safari where there’s a good chance you might get a glimpse of the majestic animal.
* Don’t miss out on Dudhani, a vast lake with a water sports complex that is simply a must visit for all Silvassa tourists. It lies about 35 km from Silvassa.