Five hill stations near Mumbai to bring in the New Year

Patchwork farms seen from the hill top at Mahabaleshwar

In a toss-up between sandy beaches and verdant hills, opinion among Mumbaikars may be divided, but they are spoilt for choice. The Sahyadris along the Konkan Coast are a gorgeous mountain range and have been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, while the Western Ghats offer pretty hill stations as well. Take your pick from these stunning mountain getaways to wrap up this year on a refreshing note.

MAHABALESHWAR

Nature’s bounty awaits at Mahabaleshwar. Its green mountains and red earth, sylvan lake and pleasant weather, have made this hill station a hit with holidaymakers. The place abounds with honey and strawberry farms, making it a sweet spot for a short New Year escape from the chaos of the city. Take a quiet walk along one of the many winding roads and enjoy the lovely misty weather or visit a strawberry farm and pick your own fruits. Mahabaleshwar has something for everyone.
Distance: 240km

IGATPURI

 

 

Igatpuri is a refreshing change from busy Mumbai.

Dotted with pretty resorts, ancient ruins of forts, a large meditation centre and several small but soothing spas, this destination with a mixed bag of attractions, is a great way to end the year. Situated only a couple of hours away from Mumbai and at an elevation of about 1900ft, Igatpuri’s is a quiet and not-so-commercial getaway. As you reach, you will be unexpectedly greeted by fog and mist – little wonder that it is often called ‘fog city’. The drive to Igatpuri along the wide highway is a pleasure in itself.

Distance: 135km

MALSHEJ GHAT

Malshej Ghat offers breathtaking natural beauty.

Malshej Ghat is one of those special places that do ample justice to the travellers’ adage of the journey being more important than the destination. Clearly among the best weekend drives out of Mumbai, these mountains should fire the imagination of anyone who’s willing to experience the unadulterated charm of nature. It offers breathtaking natural beauty and unspoilt environs.

Distance: 150km

PANCHGANI

Beautiful Rain Forest
Tableland provides a vantage point for sweeping views.
Image courtesy: ©Saumil Shah/Lonely Planet

Rolling greens, period bungalows, misty hills and strawberry orchards make this cluster of valleys as inviting a break as ever. The quaint hill station of Panchgani is better known for its strawberry fields and reputed residential schools. The weather is cool and pleasant almost all year round. The town is flanked by a valley with a dam and lake on one side and tableland on the other.

Distance: 220km

BHANDARDARA

Bhandardara Lake offers a quiet retreat.

A quiet retreat tucked away in the hills, Bhandardara is a well-kept travel secret. Untouched by the masses and chain resorts, this small hamlet has only a few places to stay but many options to lose oneself in the lap of nature. If you’ve heard of Bhandardara chances are someone’s told you about the pristine Bhandardara Lake or dam. However, this small, sleepy village and its surrounds have much more to offer by way of temples, treks, hikes and waterfalls. The unspoiled surroundings are wrapped in farmlands flanked by hills, which also include the state’s highest peak, Mount Kalsubai.

Distance: 180km

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