November 2017 has begun, which means that we are just two months away from the end of this year and the pleasant Indian winter season is just about here. Parts of Maharashtra are already experiencing cool, misty mornings as a prelude to the winter season. And that means that this is the perfect time to get out your calendars and plan your winter vacation. So here are the best winter destinations in Maharashtra to consider this year. ALSO READ: Best Places in Kerala to Visit during Winter 2017

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar

The hill station of Mahabaleshwar is best experienced during the winter months. There’s no rains to drench your plans, and the mountains are still green thanks to the monsoon that just ended. The hill station and its winding roads and delicious strawberries are the perfect antidote to a serious case of city blues. With the glorious Pratapgarh Fort and numerous viewpoints to visit, you won’t get bored here either.

Khandala and Lonavala

Khandala

Khandala, Photograph courtesy: ruben alexander/Creative Commons

The nearby destinations of Khandala and Lonavala are pretty much the default weekend getaways for Mumbaikars and Puneites. And they become all the more alluring in the winter. With the mercury dropping down significantly, Khandala and Lonavala offer misty early mornings and evenings that are perfect to explore nearby areas. And there’s always something to see here, like the Lohagad Fort and Rajmachi Fort, Pavana Lake, Bhaja Caves, Duke’s Nose, Tungarli Lake, Korigad Fort and more. This is also the perfect weather to go hiking and try out adventure activities.

Aurangabad

Ellora caves in Aurangabad

Ellora caves in Aurangabad

The winter weather is also just right to go exploring the ancient caves of Aurangabad. The city of Aurangabad is famous for its Ajanta and Ellora Caves, some of the oldest in India. You can easily spend a day or two exploring these ancient Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples whose sculptures still stand in all their glory, millennia later. Apart from the caves, Aurangabad also has the Bibi ka Maqbara, a lookalike of the Taj Mahal built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb with a history of its own. The Aurangabad Caves, Darwaza and Panchakki are also worth exploring here.

Nashik and Shirdi

Vineyards in Nashik

Vineyards in Nashik

For the pilgrims and devotees, the winter is a good time to head to the temples of Nashik, particularly nearby Shirdi and its sprawling temple dedicated to Sai Baba. Apart from the temple, though, Shirdi is a relatively quiet and unassuming village. For more sights, Nashik is a better destination. And with the nearby vineyards open to visits and tours, Nashik also has something for oenophiles. CHECK OUT: Best Winter Holiday Destinations in North India for 2017

Matheran

Vikatgad, Matheran

Vikatgad, Matheran

Matheran isn’t just the smallest hill station in India, it is also the closest one to the sprawling metropolis of Mumbai and the only one where vehicles are not allowed. But that doesn’t make this hill station any less intriguing. Cool in the winter and surrounded by mist and dense forests, Matheran’s dirt roads are a nice little escape from the hustle of the city. Here, you hear nothing but the sounds of the forests, no matter what time of the year. And with 12 points to walk and discover, you won’t get bored.

Bhandardara

Umbrella Falls, Bhandardara

Umbrella Falls, Bhandardara

The lake town of Bhandardara is a good spot for a two-day excursion in the winters. You have cold and pleasant weather, boating and water sports activities along the tranquil lake, trekking trails up to Ratangad Fort and the Umbrella and Randha waterfalls to explore. Plus, the tallest peak in Maharashtra, Kalsubai, also falls along the way to this beautiful hilly destination.

Ganapatipule

Ganapatipule beach

Ganapatipule beach

We’ve mostly focused on hill stations so far, but Maharashtra’s Konkan beaches are just as magical in the winter months. If you are looking for someplace off-beat, Ganapatipule near Mumbai is a good spot to consider. You have a relatively secluded beach, clean white sands and some delicious Konkani food to munch on. For those looking for a winter destination away from the cold, Ganapatipule is a good place to chill for a couple of days.

Alibaug

Alibaug

Alibaug

Another beach destination, Alibaug is worth considering for a winter weekend outing. It is very well-connected by road and by ferry services between Mumbai’s Gateway of India and Mandwa, and trekkers can head to the nearby Korlai Fort. The beach itself has plenty of water sports activities happening, though it does get crowded during the weekends. NOW READ: Best Winter Holiday Destinations near Mumbai for 2017

Tarkarli

Tarkarli

Tarkarli

If you prefer a bit more peace and quiet during your winter beach vacation, Tarkarli is a good place to consider. The crowds are thinner and there is snorkelling, scuba diving and more to do in this beach. Or you can just while away time sitting and watching the sea and the waves.

Maharashtra itself has plenty of places to explore; its winters are relatively mild and dry, a nice blend between the freezing winter of the north and the tropical winter in south India. It is the perfect time to get out and explore the Sahyadri mountains and experience adventure.