What comes to your mind when you hear ‘Sahyadri’? For us, it is a road trip to Sahyadri; witnessing a green expanse during a quick monsoon getaway with waterfalls, chirping birds and some soulful music in the backdrop. No wonder then that all our exclamations during road trips from Mumbai are thanks to this range of beauty.
(Have you plugged in to Road Tripping with SaffronStays?)
Sahyadris, also known as the Western Ghats, is a range of mountains running parallel to India’s western coast. Starting from Gujarat, it runs across Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and touches parts of Tamil Nadu. Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is one of the world’s ten hot-spots of biological diversity. It is home to a significant number of flora and fauna, including some endangered species.
As advocates of all-things-green, it could either be a pleasant coincidence or an incidental call that many of our villas are blessed by the Sahyadris. Here are reasons on why a road trip to Sahyadri should be next on your list…
Route: Mumbai – Karjat – Lonavala – Alibaug – Phansad
No. of days: 8
(PS: We’ve mentioned the quickest routes to reach the destination.)
1. Mumbai to Karjat
Route: 63 kms from Mumbai, Karjat is one of the quickest weekend getaways from the city. The place is known for its farmhouses, waterfalls, natural treks, greenery and ND Studios, of course. Take the Bengaluru-Mumbai Highway to reach here.
Within Maharashtra, you can try out a range of all-time favourite snacks. Vada Pav with dry red chutney and salted fried chillies, Misal Pav, Idli/ Medu Wada and Sambhar, Poha and Sabudana Wada are a few popular breakfast items.
If you stay in Maharashtra and have not been for quick weekend getaways, it is high time you do. After all, not many places can boast of having multiple types of water bodies – sea, rivers, lakes – wildlife sanctuaries, peaks and plateaus, forts, temples and so on.
And with international travel out of question, road trips will reign the travel scene. With many of our villas located 90 minutes to six hours from Mumbai, this is totally doable. Starting from Karjat, head to SaffronStays One Tree Farm, a 3-bedroom waterfront villa near Mumbai. With an infinity pool that overlooks the Pen river, take a tour of the organic farm here and learn more about the plantation, which includes rice, lemons and other veggies. With a trail within its premise, it is also a great option for an educational trip with your little one.
Places to see
ND Studios: Remember the palace scenes in Lean On by Major Lazer? If you thought they were shot at some palace in Rajasthan, you’re wrong. Named after the initials of its founder Nitin Desai, ND Studios in Karjat is quite the attraction. A few palace shots of Jodha Akbar, market sequences in Dabanng, some parts of Kick, Mangal Pandey and Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo were all shot here.
Bhivpuri Waterfall: If the sound of rushing water excites you, Bhivpuri Waterfalls should certainly be on your list. If adventure runs in your blood, you can also choose to go rappelling through the falls. Bekare Falls in Karjat is another great sightseeing and rappelling spot.
Peth Fort: Maharashtra is blessed with some lovely treks and lots of history preserved in its forts. Kothaligad, also known as Peth Fort, is one such fort. With a small temple and a cave at its base, it’s a great option for an easy trek.
Kondana Caves: Go on a historical trip to these caves located in the middle of a forest near Kondana village. Discovered in 1st Century BC, these caves with detailed Buddhist architecture have a stunning waterfall nearby.
Kothaligad Trek: With an interesting structure – an upside-down funnel – this is a hill fort in Maharashtra. The top of this fort has caves carved out of large rocks besides a pond. Offering mesmerising views of the Bhimashankar forest and the peak of the Dhak Bahiri trek, there’s also a water tank and an array of cannon balls scattered inside its fortified walls.
Imagica: Mumbaikars who wish to graduate from Essel World, Imagica, the adventure-amusement park in Khopoli is where they should be. From a water park to roller coaster rides, scream machines, horror houses, and snow parks – a day just isn’t enough to visit this place.
2. Karjat to Lonavala
Route: As a Mumbaikar, we’re used to calculating distance by time, and I’ll do just that. Imagine going on a long drive from Inorbit Malad to Marine Drive minus the traffic. That’s just how long it takes to reach from Karjat to Lonavala – that beautiful Sahyadri belt during a road trip. There’s hardly a Mumbaikar who is either unaware of this hill station or hasn’t been here. Famous for the Lion Point and Tiger Point (no, these ARE two different places and we aren’t confused between the two), Maggi Point (Yes, it’s a thing), A1 Chikki, and Cooper’s Fudge, for many Mumbaikars and Punekars, this is a touch and go spot. During my college days, several classmates wouldn’t show up to class because they’d returned from a quick drive to Lonavala at 5 am. Such fond memories!
Take the Karjat Khopoli Marg and NH48 to reach your destination at the earliest. When in Lonavala, do not miss trying out the famous Corn Bhajiya, Cheese Maggi and cutting chai.
To make your trip wholesome, we have the best places to stay in Lonavala. SaffronStays Odeon is one such villa. Designed using the art-deco architecture – a style popular in 1920s-30s, this 4-bedroom heritage home has modern amenities. Our favourite thing about this home is the cantilevered pool and the roof where you can have a rooftop party. A sprawling verandah, a 2-acre estate with a canopy of forested trees, terraced gardens and fruit trees – this home has all that it takes! Then there’s SaffronStays Falcon Hill, a 6-bedroom veg-only villa ideal for large group outings in Lonavala. Step into the infinity pool and keep gazing into nothingness. With a Poker table, table tennis, snooker and various indoor games, this home is perfect for a games night. If you wish to go glamping, SaffronStays Falcon Tents with five tents is right next to it.
Places to see:
Tiger’s Leap: Catch the sun piercing through the clouds from here. Also known as Tiger’s Point, it is named so after the way it looks – a tiger leaping forward. This point offers great views of the valley and waterfall during monsoon.
Bhushi Dam: Barring a few, no picture of this extremely popular tourist spot is minus hordes of people. While the current scenario is sure to change things drastically, no one can forget how it has been a popular spot among visitors and attracted a variety of groups – from families, to friends and couples. Built on the Indrayani River, this spot is surrounded by several local stalls selling hot snacks, fruits, bhuttas and chai among other things.
Karla Caves: A protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India, it is located near Karli in Lonavala. This was one of the several caves unearthed in the Sahyadri range. The beautiful monasteries and halls here are of great significance to the Mahasamghika sect of Buddhism. There’s also a Buddhist monastery here that dates back to 2nd Century BC.
Sunil’s Wax Museum: While going to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum may seem like a distant dream for now, this one’s closer home. From famous Indian political leaders like Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, PM Narendra Modi to fictional characters like Shaktimaan, cricketer Virat Kohli and actors like Big B, Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan among several others – they’re all under one roof!
Forts: Lonavala is home to several forts, all with some historical significance. Nana Phadnavis, the great Maratha minister used to stay at the Lohagad Fort. The fort has several structures within, including a big tank and a step well. Its south side also has caves.
Built by the first Maratha Empire Peshwa, Balaji Vishwanath, the Visapur Fort is a twin of the Lohagad Fort. Catch misty panoramic views of the surrounding greenery, waterfalls and take in the glory around.
A popular trekking spot, the Tikona Fort – named after its triangular shape – with large doorways, water tanks and fantastic views is at a height of 3500 feet.
Built in the midst of the Sahyadris, the trek to Rajmachi Fort is quite famous. With two fortresses – Shrivardhan and Manaranjan – it is located at a height of 3000 feet. This made it easier for the rulers to keep track of the activities in the Konkan area.
Lion’s Point: Another popular picture spot in Lonavala, this place is also known as the ‘Thumbs Up Point’ because the peak looks like one. Named after its semblance to a lion sitting in a sphinx position, get your cameras on and capture the greenery, waterfalls and sunset.
Reverse Waterfalls: Fascinating from the word go, the name of this popular touristy spot speaks for itself. Best visited during monsoon season, imagine shooting a rewind video here…
3. Lonavala to Alibaug
While this move may seem a little offtrack, what’s a road trip if not that! Alibaug, with its white sand beaches, forts, greenery and chill vibes is on every Mumbaikar’s list for a quick trip, thanks to the jetty. However, a road trip from Lonavala is equally short, too. If you’re yearning for Goa but have to avoid it at the moment, a 76-km drive from Lonavala gets you to Alibaug – a quick close. Take the MH SH 104 and 166 A to reach here.
Given its proximity to the sea, the seafood here is quite a hit. Head over to Sanman for a hearty seafood thali like the Malwani thali, Pomfret Thali served with rice bhakris. The Prawn Masala is yet another favourite. Wash it all off with some soothing Sol Kadi. If you’re looking for a fine-dining experience, Kiki’s Cafe & Deli and Boardwalk by Flamboyante both located next to Mandwa Jetty are ideal. Sun, sea and sumptuous food – we’re game.
In Alibaug, there’s a SaffronStays home for all sorts. Right from a farmhouse with a pool like SaffronStays 7 Seas to a pet-friendly villa wrapped in nature, SaffronStays Masaya and one that’s ideal for large group outings, SaffronStays 8 NM – there’s something for everyone.
Places to see:
Beaches: Blessed with beaches, any place you visit in Alibaug can’t not be close to one. Adjacent to the quickest linkage between Mumbai and Alibaug – the jetty route – is Mandwa Beach. You may be familiar with the place, thanks to the two Agneepaths that Bollywood produced. Quiet and calming, I’ve once spotted a group of pups running towards and playing on a piece of land in the middle of the sea; exactly what joy looks like!
Reminiscent of Goa, the Alibaug Beach is dotted with shacks and eateries. The boats take you to the Kolaba Fort located in the middle of the sea.
If you enjoy water sports, Nagaon Beach is the ideal choice. Not only is it a picture perfect spot but also one can enjoy a host of water sports including jet-skiing, parasailing, banana boat ride, and bumper ride. One of our homes – SaffronStays Aquamarina – has direct access to the quieter, slightly kept away side of this beach.
On a full moon night, I happened to visit the Kihim Beach with a bunch of friends – and was it breathtaking or what! Relish karaunda, star fruit, and kachchi kairi while here. Many of our homes including SaffronStays Gardenia, SaffronStays Villa Mahalo and SaffronStays Elixir are located close to this beach.
There are several other beaches including Akshi, Varsoli, Awas, Rewas and Rewdanda here.
Kolaba Fort: A short boat ride from the Alibaug beach takes you to the 300+ year old Kolaba or the Alibaug Fort. Interestingly, during low tide, one can also walk it up till the fort. Filled with artefacts, cannons and carvings of various creatures on its walls, there’s also a freshwater well and a Ganesha temple within its premises. Owing to its location, it played a significant role in being a chief naval station to attack the British troops.
Karmarkar Museum: Housing 150 sculptures by its founder, sculptor Vinayak Pandurang Karmarkar, this one’s for the art lovers. Figures of several noted personalities including Mahatma Gandhi, Shivaji Maharaj, Lokmanya Tilak among others as well as common women and men can be found here. The pieces reflect a heavy influence of the early 20th century artwork.