Mumbai is scorching, seething and desperate for a good shower. I too, have been praying desperately for rains, not just to get some much needed respite from the heat, but also to enjoy the monsoon trips again. I realize that I completely skipped the monsoon bliss last year, thanks to my Australian sojourn. The trifling rain visit I made was to Murud, but that was also during the pre-monsoon when rain had yet not turned on its full flow.
Mumbai is a delight to be in during the monsoons (If you could ignore the puddles and lakes on what Mumbaikars call the ‘roads’). There are many places around the city which offer a lovely weekend option, as they are within driving distance.
The closest monsoon options are in the Western ghat belt which extends to North East of Mumbai. It takes only an hour’s drive from Vashi to get to Karjat, a place which has now become a popular ‘farm house’ location for Mumbai dwellers. While a lot of these farm houses are private, there is an equal number of farm houses who have reformed into resorts for the nature-loving tourists. They offer modest accomodation, at not so modest prices, but have swimming pools and badminton courts to ensure a good time for their guests. Their best offering though, is open space and proximity to the green hillocks.
Very close to Karjat is Neral, the gateway for getting into Matheran. Matheran is a unique hillstation, best enjoyed during monsoons, i.e. if you are keen to have a ‘wet’ holiday. It rains almost continuously, and rains heavily. There are no cars allowed in this small station, and your only means of transport are your feet or horses (Stop imagining yourself galloping to the winds, it is a sedate walk, very painful to certain parts of the body! Choose to walk, and you will have a grand day. On monsoon weekends, expect a lot of people. But that is not to say that you will not be able to find nice quiet corners to enjoy the ghats.
Then there is much talked about twin-pack: Khandala-Lonavala. A lovely place in the monsoons if you skip its popular places and points. Just take off on any of the green hill by yourself and you will have a much better time. Or go to one of those exclusive resorts which have a hillock in their backyard – so you can enjoy scaling the heights and the rains, and not be disturbed by unbehaved mass of loafers. Personally I prefer Khandala much more to Lonavala, which is loud, crowded and unruly. I love the Khandala Station, and also to watch the track from the hillocks. Trains meandering through the lush green valley is a beautiful sight.
My favorite, so far has been Igatpuri – a small hillstation on the Mumbai-Nashik highway. It takes on a lovely charm during the monsoons, esp with its very low bridges, and the wavy tracks. There is the lovely Igatpuri Tal on the way to the temple, not very far from the only two resorts in the area. It is not very well known, and is perfect for a quiet day.
Not far from Igatpuri is Bhandardhara, also famous for its lake. It is another of the quiet, secluded, relatively lesser known destinations to enjoy the monsoons. But like Igatpuri, the stay options are restricted.
If you are one of those, who enjoy the monsoon sea, I will highly recommend the white sand beaches of Murud and Kashid. The drive from Kashid to Murud goes along the sea, through the hills, and is one of the loveliest drives I have enjoyed in India.
Then there always is Goa – the ultimate place for partying, which is, contrary to popular belief, absolutely loveable in the monsoons. The sea is rough, so the shacks and beachside activity is ruled out. But you can always enjoy watching the turbulent sea from the Fort Aguada, or sit atop any of the cliffs and enjoy the rain. It is also perfect to swim with showers above – though certainly not in the sea 🙂
Talking about all this, and I am again homesick for the rains. Rain Gods, please be merciful.