New Year escapes from Mumbai

Image courtesy: ©Sachin Uplaonkar/Lonely Planet

New Year’s Eve is just around the corner and everyone’s wondering how to celebrate it. Worry not, as for those looking to head out of the city with family, friends or partners; we have a few ideas on where you could ring in 2018!

Matheran

A quiet, peaceful hill station tucked away in the Western Ghats, Matheran is known for its red soil, vehicle-free surroundings and, of course, its monkey population. Dotted with a variety of hotels and guesthouses, a bustling market street, and surrounded by lush green hills and valleys, Matheran is a getaway in the true sense. Chilly evenings draped with a velvety blanket of star-speckled skies, bonfires and a deck of cards can complete an enjoyable evening or two with friends and family.

Make it Happen: Situated 90 km from Mumbai, local trains to Neral are the closest that run to Matheran. From here either take the toy train straight up to Matheran or a shared cab up to Dasturi Point (beyond which vehicles are not allowed) followed by a forest walk or horseback ride for the remaining 30-40 minutes. If driving, take your car up to Dasturi Point, park and walk or horseback it up.

 

Nasik

Wonderful weather coupled with acres of verdant vineyards make Nasik a wonderful setting for ringing in the New Year. Known to be an educational hub and a pilgrimage destination, over the past few years Nasik has also gained another reputation, that of being India’s ‘Napa Valley’. A number of wine companies here host memorable New Year parties with free flowing wine, food and music. Go with family or friends and unwind over delicious local cuisine and a goblet of chilled vino tinto.

Make it Happen: Nasik lies approximately 170 km from Mumbai and can be reached in a short three hours. A smooth drive over the NH3 via foggy Igatpuri makes for a scenic, comfortable trip.

Daman

This well-planned town is a wonderful seaside getaway and offers an escape into the bylanes of history with its imposing forts, heritage lighthouses and churches. Its past is evident in the blend of cultures seen here: Portuguese, Roman Catholic and Gujarati. Wash this down with the easily accessible duty-free spirits and begin that NYE countdown.

Make it Happen: Daman can be reached via the Mumbai-Gujarat highway (NH8) that leads to Vapi. From Vapi, a left turn and 10km to the west is Daman (190 kms from Mumbai, four hours away).

Saputara (Gujarat)

If a commercial hill station is what you’re looking for, try Saputara in the south of Gujarat. This well planned and maintained holiday destination has an abundance of pretty gardens, lakes, waterfalls, and a national park, making it a wonderful nature escape. Many hotels host New Year bashes for guests who choose to revel yet surrounded by nature’s bounty.

Make it Happen: A five-six hour drive from Mumbai, Saputara can be reached via the NH3 and the Surat-Nasik Highway.

Goa

That ‘susegaado’ Goa comes to life around New Year’s is a well-known fact. Mumbaikars! Just head down south to this beach state for a true-blue party weekend. Many large-scale beach parties featuring international artists are usually held in Goa each year. Take in the electric party atmosphere or simply kick back on a sandy stretch and bring in 2018 over a chilled pint or six!

Make it Happen: Goa can be reached via road, train or air. Flights to Goa operate on a daily basis and take just 45 minutes, while drive time is about 12-13 hours. An exciting getaway for the whole jing-bang and the neighbours!

Alibaug-Kashid

The neighbouring beach getaways of Alibaug and Kashid are for those who want to get away from the chaos and crowds of New Year brouhahas. Stay at a nice hotel on one of these sandy stretches, enjoy delicious seafood along with the balmy sea breeze, and if you please, join in the merriment of folks celebrating New Year’s Eve at one of its many hotels.

Make it Happen: Alibaug & Kashid can be reached within four hours by road from Mumbai either via Navi Mumbai or the NH66. Alternatively, ferries to Alibaug leave Gateway of India for Mandwa Jetty at regular intervals daily. From here local vehicles can be hired to Alibaug and Kashid.

Panchgani

Wrap yourself in light woollens and explore the quaint strawberry county of Panchgani. Delightful Parsi-run heritage hotels here offer an old-world charm and a wonderful sanctuary to weary city dwellers. Enjoy the scenic valley views, try some of the local bakeries or sink your teeth into some delicious strawberry and cream- the area’s most famous offering. Better yet, take a walk through some of the strawberry farms and pluck your own fruit! A truly delightful and different way to ring in the New Year, we say.

Make it Happen: Panchgani is a 6-7 hour drive from Mumbai. Private buses ply this route daily. There are two ways to get there, either drive down the NH4 Mumbai-Pune Expressway or the older route, NH17. The little town makes for a pleasing getaway for couples and families alike.

AUTHOR'S BIO: Surina Sayal is a Mumbai-based journalist and photographer who considers herself a student of life and a vagabond. She admits to have gathered unforgettable memories during her trips and has an unending 'travel bucket list'. More on: http://purplerickshaw.blogspot.in

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