When city life takes a toll, you can plan a rejuvenating trip to the coastal towns, heritage sites and hill stations in and around Mumbai. Aurangabad, Panhala, Ajanta and Ellora Caves are some of the prominent weekend destinations that are accessible within 5-6 hour drive from Mumbai. Indian Holiday offers online information on top weekend getaways from Mumbai within 400 km.
Aurangabad is considered the main getaway to visit the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. This heritage city is named after Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. There are several other monuments of great cultural and tourist interest. The nearby town of Khultabad houses the tomb of Aurangzeb who died in the year 1707. The Himroo shawls, Kimbhab and Mashru, Paithani sarees and Bidri are popular buys from here.
What to see in Aurangabad While most tourists head to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves for a day's excursion, Bibi-ka-Maqbara is an important place of visit in Aurangabad. It is the Taj Mahal of the city and was built in 1679 by Aurangzeb's son. It is designed as a replica to the Taj Mahal of Agra. Aurangabad also has two set of Hindu caves situated a kilometer apart from each other. The 10 caves are divided into two categories of western and eastern group. You can also visit Bani Begum Garden, Naukonda Palace, Jama Masjid and Purwar Museum here.
The rock-cut temples and caves make Ajanta and Ellora 2 World Heritage Sites that are worth visiting from Aurangabad and Mumbai city. Ajanta and Ellora has a distance of around 100 km from each other, though you can visit them on the same day. The 34 caves in Ellora and 29 in Ajanta are fine examples of Indian art, architecture, paintings and engineering feat. The rocks are carved with only hammer and chisel and dates back to the 2nd century.
What to see in Ajanta and Ellora Caves In Ajanta, there are 29 Buddhist Caves depicting the Jataka tales. Each of these caves has paintings and images covering the walls except the floor. Ellora Caves feature 34 Buddhist, Hindu and Jain shrines of which the Kailasanath, Dashavatara, Indra Sabha and the Vishvakarma are the most prominent ones.
Located on the western coast of Maharashtra, Ratnagiri was a port during the rule of the Bijapur kingdom. Presently, it is an important tourist destination and features unparalleled beauty of the landscape and beaches. The vast shoreline appeals to all travelers even as the Sahyadri range forms a stunning backdrop. The hot springs and waterfalls also enhance the beauty making it a rejuvenating place of visit from Mumbai.
What to see in Ratnagiri The Ratnadurg Fort is one of the main attractions in the Konkan region. It overlooks the town and the natural harbor of the place. Ratnagiri Lighthouse, Anjarle Beach and Mandrem Beach are other popular places of visit.
Kolhapur is an old city on the banks of the Panchganga and is well known for its sandals, wood craft and Kolhapuri cuisine. Kolhapuri chicken is a delicacy that you cannot miss savoring here. It is also the headquarters of the Marathi film industry and is the place where Raja Harishchandra, the first feature movie of India, was shot.
What to see in Kolhapur While the local markets selling Kolhapuri chappal, jewelry and other handicrafts will keep you busy, sightseeing tours will include visit to the Irwin Agricultural Museum, Mahalaxmi Temple, Maharajas's Palace and the Panhala hill station is close to Kolhapur.
The hill station of Panhala is easily accessible from Kolhapur and is situated at an elevation of 3177 feet. It is an interesting getaway from Mumbai where tourists can enjoy natural beauty, pollution-free environment and jungle trekking. The Someshwar Tank is a famous tourist site. It is a "secret well" on the Panhala Fort.
What to see in Panhala As Panhala is an unexplored hill station, the place is tranquil and secluded making it ideal for a weekend break. Other than the natural beauty, the dense forests, Panhala Fort and the Someshwar Tank are popular attractions.
Historically famous as the birth place of Lokmanya Tilak, Ganpatipule is a serene village in the Ratnagiri district. The shoreline here is 6 km long and feature stunning beauty. Untouched by commercialization, Ganpatipule has a prominent weekend retreat for Mumbai residents.
What to see in Ganpatipule The Swayambhu Ganapati Temple is the main attraction besides the beaches. Legends reveal that a villager happened to stumble over a Lord Ganapati idol in the forest and then a temple was built. The shrine dates back to at least 400 years!