The most loved city of India, Mumbai, home to some 18 million people and more, is the most populated city of India. It’s a city of incredible architecture, varied terrain, diverse temples and religious sites, sandy beaches and the thundering Arabian sea lashing at it. The unending liveliness of Mumbai or Bombay, its erstwhile appellation, has made it a perfect destination for experiencing both a quiet holiday as well as an adventurous one.
Home to some of the great monuments and structures of the country like the Gateway of India, Elephanta Caves etc., Mumbai is ranked high amongst the holiday destinations for tourists. Listed here are the ten best picnic spots one must visit in Mumbai.
1. The Elephanta Caves
Just 25 kilometres and a ferry ride away, the Elephanta caves are one of the most prized possessions of India. Believed to have been constructed in around 5th to 8th century AD, this group of 7 caves rests on the Elephanta Island, a name coined after an elephant sculpture found by the Portuguese, which now rests at the Mumbai Jijamata Udyaan zoo. The group comprises of 2 Buddhist caves and 5 Hindu caves built from basalt rock. The site has also been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Featuring unique sculptures and stupas and embellished in intricate carvings, the caves are a wonderful lesson in history.
2. Yeoor Hills
Located within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Yeoor Hills lie 40 kilometres from the state capital of Bombay. Comprising of half a dozen lovely villages home to the tribal population, the site also has a few lush houses and restaurants. Ideal for a thoroughly relaxing holiday, Yeoor has all the necessities required to enjoy a perfect time. Also featuring a trekking trail that leads to a charming waterfall, Yeoor is best visited during monsoon.
A historical city situated 60 kilometres from Mumbai, Vasai or Vasai-Virar or, rather adorably, “Mini Goa”, is a region replete with churches, beaches, temples and glorious architecture oozing from its ancient edifices. An enchanting and peaceful location, the tree-lined roads of Vasai reminds one of the beautiful state of Goa and hence the name. With wondrous places to visit like old Portuguese Catholic churches, sprawling beaches, Vasai fort and the Hedavde Mahalaxmi Temple, Vasai is an ideal destination for a short getaway.
4. Sanjay Gandhi National Park
The erstwhile Borivali National Park or the current Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a charming landscape sprawling some 104 square kilometres in the city of Mumbai. Located right in the heart of the city, the park draws visitors by the thousands every year. One of the most frequented national parks in the world, the history of the park can be dated back to the 4th century BC. Home to some of the most exotic variety of flora and fauna in the country, the national park also houses the over-2000-year-old Kanheri Caves, sanctuary for tigers, recreational area for children and trekking trails within it. The site offers a wonderful experience with its boat rides, toy train rides and trekking experiences.
An hour of ferry ride away from the majestic Gateway of India is the site of Alibaug. 100 kilometres by road from Mumbai but just 40 kilometres on water, this coastal town is a beloved spot of the rich and famous people of the country. Hosting some of the loveliest beaches, one feels enthralled and perfectly relaxed in Alibaug. The main and titular beach with black sand is the most famous beach of the region. Some of the attractions in the site are Magen Avot Synagogue, Alibaug Fort, Varsoli Beach, Siddheshwar Mandir, Kihim – Navgaon Beach, Akshi Beach, Korlai Beach, Khanderi island, Underi Island, Nagaon Beach etc.
Rocketed to fame by a famous Bollywood song, Khandala is one of the most cherished holiday sites of Mumbai’s denizens. A beautiful hill station at 1,800 feet, the site is nestled within the lush greenery of Western Ghats, about 95 kilometres from Mumbai. Situated just 3 kilometres from another lovely site, Lonavala, Khandala offers some of the most gorgeous views of the pristine-ness of the Western Ghats with its undulating dense hills, dazzling wildlife, satin flow of the misty clouds and wonderful silvery valleys. Some other famous attractions in close proximity to Khandala are Duke’s Nose, Bhushi Lake, Amrutanjan Point, Karla and Bhaje Caves, Tiger’s Leap etc.
One of the best holiday destinations in Maharashtra, the city of Karjat rests on the basin of the Ulhas river. 68 kilometres from Bombay city, this beautiful countryside is perched at an altitude of about 636 feet and is awash with dense vegetation, ancient forts, undulating mountain ranges and many antediluvian caves and temples. Also offering myriads of adventure sports like river rafting, rappelling, waterfall climbing, trekking etc., it is among the favorite site for adventure freaks and nature enthusiasts.
8. Manori Island
Located 49 kilometres from Mumbai, Manori is a small village sharing many cultural similarities with Goa. One of the most popular and adored destinations among Mumbaikars, the site is just a ferry ride away from Gorai, which is home to the famous Gorai beach. Comprising of a number of hotels, food stalls, restaurants, Manori is fully equipped to host its visitors in plush resorts and cottages. Its idyllic ambiance is what draws hundreds of people to it every day.
9. Naneghat Pass
An ancient trade route, passing through the mountains, the path in Naneghat connected the regions of Nalasopara and Kalyan with the backland. This mountain pass is a rather famous trekking spot that is rife with history. An amazing trekking trail, the path through the pass after descending leads one to the city of Pune. Deriving its name from the words meaning “coin pass”, Naneghat is one of the darkest sky sites in the country, making it ideal for star gazing and other astronomical activities. The region also features very old caves hidden in the rugged terrain of the beautiful landscape at an elevation of 2,461 feet.
Home to the famed Karnala Bird Sanctuary, this region is located almost 60 kilometres from Mumbai city. Nestled within the dense greenery of the Western Ghats, Karnala offers much more than a paradise of birds. The Karnala Fort or “Funnel Hill” situated here is perched atop a hill at an altitude of 1,440 feet. Supposedly constructed before 15th century, the fort is a historical treasure as well as a sweet spot giving sweeping panoramic view of the encompassing breathtaking beauty of the Ghats.
Just ten of what could have been twenty or even fifty, Mumbai’s location in the varied and wonderful terrain of Maharashtra gives rise to some phenomenal holiday sites. These ten are the best and quite offbeat destinations for enjoying a lovely picnic.