Lonavla and Khandala
Lonavla and Khandala are two hill resorts near Mumbai. These
twin places are just 106 kms from the rat race of Mumbai. In
recent years the heavy flow of weekenders and conference
groups from Mumbai has changed the demography of the area
dramatically. Khandala gives a good view of the
rain-water-fed waterfalls while Lonavla acts as the base for
the Karla & Bhaja Caves. These caves date back to the 2nd
century B.C and are one of the finest examples of rock
temples by the Hinayana sect in India. The Karla caves were
carved by the monks and the artisans who tried to imitate
the carvings on wood. The light filters inwards through the
The Dagoba or
representation of Buddha is protected by a wooden umbrella.
The pillars are topped by kneeling elephants who have seated
figures. These 37 pillars are the circumambulatory aisles.
The ceiling is ribbed by teak beams. Out side the cave a
stambha with four back to back lions stands. This pillar is
associated with Ashoka and is believed to have been kept
there later. The Bhaja caves are older and peaceful than the
Karla caves. Bhaja has out of 18 cave ten are vihars and one
is an open chaitya. There are 14 stupas just outside these
caves. Lohagad fort and Visapur fort are also nearby.
Matheran is the nearest Hill station to Mumbai. The name
means "Jungle Topped" or "Wooded Head" which is just what it
is- an undulating hilltop cloaked in shady trees. It became
popular during the days of the Raj as the abundant shade and
altitude (800metres) made it slightly cooler than Mumbai.
This place was discovered in 1850 and due to its greenery &
shade it was immediately taken as the nearest hill station
from Mumbai. Matheran is sightly above the plains so it is
cool and provides escape from the heat of Mumbai.
maintained the tranquility and peace by banning any kind of
motor vehicle within the town limits. The best season to
visit this place is between November to June but the place
is worth visiting any time of the year. During the monsoon
the trails become very dirty and the place virtually shuts
Best Season :
In April and May and around the Diwali Festival in
October/November. During the tourist season, you won't find
accommodation unless you've made a reservation well in
advance. During the monsoon season Matheran virtually closes
up. Very few hotels and restaurants remain open, and the
dirt walking trails and roads become very muddy. On the plus
side, there are very few people around, and the hotels that
remain open reduce their rates significantly.
How to Get there :
Getting to Matheran is great fun; from Neral Junction you
take a tiny narrow-gauge toy train up the 21-km route to the
hill station. It's two-hour journey through the steep slopes
and lovely trees is worth feeling. Alternatively, you can
take a taxi or minibus from Neral. However, as cars are
prohibited in Matheran, you will then face a 40-minute walk
into Matheran or you'll have to hire a horse or
cycle-rickshaw. Only the toy train goes right into the
centre of the town.
From Mumbai, only a few of the Pune expresses stop at Neral
Junction, so make sure you take one which does. The shortest
route to Bombay (100 km) is via Panvel by road & Pune is 140
km away. Share taxis from Neral to Matheran also operate.
Worth Seeing Places:
Porcupine Point is a good place for catching the sunset, but
Panorama Point, at the extreme north, is said to have the
finest views. The western side, from Porcupine to Louisa
Point, is known as Cathedral Rocks, and Neral can be seen
far below. At the south, near One Tree Hill, is a trail down
to the valley below known as Shivaji's Ladder, so called
because the Maratha leader is said to have used it. It is
very good walking trails through trees and one will enjoy
Places to Stay :
Lots of options including MTDC Tourist Camp, Royal Hotel
Matheran, Gujarat Bhavan Hotel, Rugby Hotel, Regal Hotel,
Brightlands Resort, Lord's Central Hotel.
This popular hill station was the summer capital of the
Bombay presidency during the days of the Raj. It has
pleasant walks and good lookouts, and the area has
interesting historical connections with Shivaji. The station
was founded in 1828 by Sir John Malcom.
As with most hill stations, Mahabaleshwar closes up tight
for the monsoon season (mid-June to mid-September). Local
buildings are clad with kulum grass to stop them being
damaged by the torrential rain -an unbelievable six meters
(around 235 inches) of rain falls during this time.
The small Venna Lake, about four km from Mahabaleshwar, has
boating and fishing facilities. The Krishnabai, or
Panchganga (five streams), Temple is said to contain the
springs of the Krishna, Veena and Koyana rivers.
The local specialities - strawberry and raspberry jam - are
good. Elphistone, Babington, Bombay and Kate's Point all
offer fine views from this wooded plateau to the plains
below. Arthur's Seat, 12 km from Mahabaleshwar, looks out
over a sheer drop of 600 meters to the Konkan coastal strip.
There are pleasant waterfalls such as Chinaman's Falls (2.5
km), Dhobi (three km) and Lingmala (six km). Most of the
walking trails are well signposted.
Places to Stay :
Many choices including Poonam Hotel, Ripon Hotel, Dreamland
Hotel, Regal Hotel and Fredrick Hotel.
Getting There :
Mahabaleshwar is 117 km south-west of Pune via Panchgani.
The closest railway station is Satara Road, about 15 km
north-east of the town of Satara. There are daily buses to
Kolhapur, Satara, Pune and Panchgani. There's an MTDC luxury
bus daily to/from Bombay. Arriving by car or bus, you must
pay a 'municipal tax' to the official on the roadside as you
enter town. Private vehicles must also pay a per day parking
Panchgani (Five Hills) is 19 kms. east of Mahabaleshwar and,
at 1334 meters, is just 38 meters lower.It's also a popular
hill station, splendidly located. It has the 'Raj' stamp all
over it, which is evident in the architecture of the old
British buildings, the Parsi bungalow and the boarding
schools that have been around for over a century.
It is a delight to canter through thickly wooded walkways to
explore the area, catching glimpse of the River Krishna
winding its way through the ravines, hundreds of meters
below. Kamalgad Fort is easily reached by foot or on
Places to Stay :
Aman Hotel, Hotel Five Hills, Malas Guest House.
Situated outside the city of Aurangabad (whose airport
offers flights to and from Mumbai), 400km northeast of
Bombay, are the caves of Ellora. They constitute one of the
most beautiful expressions of the art of the Indian Middle
Ages, and are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
They are noteworthy as three major Indian religions have
laid joint claim to the caves peacefully since they were
created. These breathtaking caves are definitely worth
visiting for their remarkable reliefs, sculptures and
buddhist caves of Ajanta are situated 100km northeast of
Ellora. These magnificent caves containing carvings that
depict the life of Buddha have also been designated as a
UNESCO World Heritage Site. They date from around 200 B.C.
and their carvings and sculptures are considered to be the
beginning of classical Indian art.
Tourist spots in Mumbai
Situated in South-Bombay, this is a tourist preferred
location. It has plenty of budget and mid-range hotels. The
majestic Taj Mahal Hotel has great views of the Gateway of
India from its top floor Apollo Bar. The streets behind the
Taj Mahal Hotel are the travellers' centre of Mumbai. The
main drag of Colaba is plenty of street vendors, shops,
stalls and cafes.
extravagant blend of Victorian gothic buildings in the Fort
district of Mumbai, supports the European roots of the city.
This lively area occupies the site of the old British built
fort and is the established commercial centre of Mumbai.
It's jampacked with commuters, street stalls and the 19th
century British institutions and trading houses. The Bombay
Stock Exchange on the famous Dalal Street is one of the many
Built in 1920, Marine Drive runs along the shoreline of the
Arabian Sea from Nariman Point to the foot of Malabar Hill.
It passes Chowpatty Beach along the way. It's one of
Mumbai's most popular romantic spot and sunset view is
amazing. Tourist brochures are fond of stating it as the
Queen's Necklace, because of the dramatic curve of its
streetlights at night.
If you're feeling energetic, a stroll down Marine Drive is
possibly the best way to discover Mumbai. This is a
windswept promenade, flanked by the sea and a row of art
between the concrete jungle of Nariman Point, Mumbai's
Manhattan, and the leafy green slopes of Malabar hill,
Marine Drive is sometimes called the Queen's Necklace,
strung with glittering street lights like an enormous strand
of imperious jewels. It is also one of
Mumbai's busiest roads, an important artery for the heavy
suburban traffic heading downtown. Cars whiz continually
past the two mile stretch, past huddled lovers, children and
babies in perambulators. This is where most of south Mumbai
comes to breathe in some fresh air.
Mumbai's famous beach is no place for a sunbathe or taking a
dip. In fact, there's not much going on at Chowpatty at all
during the day, but in the evening it develops a magical
atmosphere as locals come to stroll among the balloon
sellers, fortune tellers, magicians, nut vendors, ferris
wheels and shooting galleries. You might even catch a film
shoot or a street play. At one end is a row of bhelpuri
shops hawking Mumbai's most popular snack: crisp puffed rice
and semolina doused in pungent chutneys, all scooped up with
a flat, fried puri. Eating at the collection of stalls is an
essential part of the Mumbai experience. Chowpatty is a
great place to witness the annual Ganesh Chaturthi Festival
in August/September when large images of the Lord Ganesha
are immersed in the sea. If you go to Mumbai and have not
gone to Chowpatty and enjoyed the beach-side snacks then you
have lost lots of fun.
The colonial bungalows that peppered the hillside in the
18th century have now been replaced by the apartment blocks
of Mumbai. The formal Hanging Gardens (or Pherozeshah Mehta
Gardens) on top of the hill, offer the visitor a panoramic
view of Bombay - the bay, the colorful Chowpatty Beach
immediately below,and the imposing buildings of Nariman
Point (Manhattan of India) reaching for the sky. And at
night, "the Queen's Necklace" is something to watch from the
Hanging Gardens, are the Parsi Towers of
Silence. Parsis hold fire, earth and water as sacred so do
not cremate or bury their dead. At the Parsi Towers of
Silence, (not open to visitors) the dead are exposed to
Perched at the top of Malabar Hill, on its western side,
just opposite the Kamala Nehru Park, these terraced gardens,
also known as Ferozeshah Mehta Gardens, provide lovely
sunset views over the Arabian Sea. The park was laid out in
the early 1880s over Bombay's main reservoir, some say to
cover the water from the potentially contaminating activity
of the nearby Towers of Silence.
The colourful indoor Crawford Market, north of CST
(previously VT), is the last outpost of British Bombay
before the fever of the central bazaars begins. It's a blend
of Flemish and Norman architecture with a bas relief
depicting Indian peasants in wheat fields just above the
main entrance. The freize, incidentally, was designed by
Lockyard Kipling, father of the famous Rudyard Kipling, and
the Kiplings' cottage still stands next to the JJ School of
Art across the road. Now named after a local patriot called
Jyotiba Phule, Crawford Market looks like something out of
Victorian London, with its sweet smell of hay and 50 ft high
skylit awning that bathes the entire place in natural
sunlight. It used to be the city's wholesale produce market
before this was strategically moved to New Bombay. Today
it's where central Mumbai goes shopping for its fruit,
vegetables and meat.
No visit to Mumbai is complete without a round into the
bazaars of Kalbadevi, north of Crawford Market. The narrow
lanes of this area are flooded in by laundry-draped chawls,
and a huge mass of people bring Mumbai's traffic to a
standstill. It's in complete contrast to the relative space,
orderliness and modernity of South Mumbai. The main areas
are Zaveri Bazaar (jewellery), Mangaldas Market (cloth),
Dhabu St (leather goods) Mumbai's.
Gateway Of India
The Gateway of India - a 26 mt. Triumphal Archway designed
Century to commemorate the visit of King Geoge and Queen
Mary to India in 1911 - is Mumbai's most famous landmark.
Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol
also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships
that set sail for England left from the Gateway.
Behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water.
Here, you can get onto one of the bobbing little motor
launches, for a short cruise through Mumbai's splendid
Prince Charles Museum
Built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture to honour
king George V's visit to India. It has 3 main sections: Art
, Archealogy , & Natural History. It has a fine collection
of Chinese Jade pieces, oil paintings & miniature paintings.
Rajabai Clock Tower ( Mumbai University )
Situated at the gardens of Mumbai university building, the
Rajabai Clock tower rises above the portion of the library
section. Consisting of 5 elaborately decorated storeys, the
tower is 280 ft. In height and commands a fine view of the
city. From the ground are about eight other statues
depicting various Indian castes.
Haji Ali's Mosque
Situated in between the Arabian Sea, is a whitewashed
fairytale mosque containing the tomb of the Muslim saint
This is Mumbai's only international-style amusement centre
situated close to Gorai Beach. Special ferries get you
across to the park and the entrance fee normally takes care
of a fixed number of rides. These include the standard
roller coaster and adventure themes, plus a water world
section where kids can literally run amok. Summer is usually
crowded, but the place also offers low budget monsoon
packages and special deals on weekends. Check these out
before you go.
Mockingly called Bollywood by locals, Film City clings to
the outskirts of the National Park, and is practically
overrun by assorted stars and starlets -- the demi gods and
goddesses of modern India. Bollywood churns out over 900
films every year, all packed with those mandatory elements
of song, dance, melodrama, violence and erotica that
audiences love. Which is probably why Film City sets are
heavily booked around the year. They are closed to visitors,
but special permissions can always be obtained to check out
Like Chowpatty, its downtown counterpart, uptown Juhu Beach
is also a bourgeois paradise, filled to the gills with
screaming children, courting couples and rowdy adolescents.
If you want a more fancy excursion, however, retreat behind
Juhu's many five star hotels, for a steaming cup of coffee
and a splendid view of the coast. The most popular of these
beachfront hotels are the Sun and Sand and Holiday Inn. The
government run Juhu Centaur also has a 24 hour coffee shop
with a view of the sea.