Pune: the cultural capital of Maharashtra, the Oxford of the East, the Queen of the Deccan. Home to several universities, major companies and a rich historical legacy, the city is known for its cosmopolitan life. And while Pune certainly has a lot of places to explore and experience, the Western Ghats that lie towards its west have several scenic and beautiful hill stations to spend a weekend. If you are planning a getaway soon, just escape the city lights, drive down the serpentine roads towards the Western Ghats and stay at one of the hill stations near the city, surrounded by lush greenery and scenic valleys. Pune is close to a number of Maharashtra’s best hill stations, perfect for a summer getaway from the heat or a scenic monsoon drive. Here are some of the hill stations near Pune to consider for your next short trip. For a more general list, here are 12 weekend getaways from Pune. Also Read - Jos Buttler Ruled Out of Sri Lanka Series With Calf-Injury Tear

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar

Lying in the hilly district of Satara, Mahabaleshwar is around 120 km away from Pune and is probably the most famous of Maharashtra’s several summer resorts. The place was once called Malcolm Perth during the British Raj, when it flourished with the influence of the English. Today, Mahabaleshwar offers plenty of view points that look out towards the Western Ghats and Krishna River. The place is evergreen, though the forests and trees turn a different bright shade of green during the monsoons. Also Read - 7 Basic Food Items to Strictly Avoid During Pregnancy

What to see: Mahabaleshwar lies around 1,353 meters above sea level, and offers a few adventure activities apart from the breathtaking sights. And, let’s not forget the strawberries that you get to pluck in the summer months of March and April. Also Read - Serum Institute Begins Production of Novavax Covid Vaccine, Poonawalla Congrats Team

Lonavala

Lonavala

Lonavala

A little closer home is the familiar hill station of Lonavala, which lies just around 65 km from Pune. The place is a common hangout for the folks of Pune and Mumbai, from which it is just 96 km away. Lonavala is ideal for a quick getaway no matter who you travel with: friends, family or alone. It lies in the midst of beautiful hills and lush green valleys, and several waterfalls that flow during the monsoon. The climate is moderate for the whole year, but is nice and cool during the monsoon and winter months.

What to see: The local sights here include Bush Dam, another place best seen during the monsoons, and several caves nearby. In fact, Lonavala itself gets its name from the Sanskrit word for a group of caves. And let’s not forget the Chikki and fudges to munch on here.

Matheran

Vikatgad, Matheran

Vikatgad, Matheran

Matheran is famous for several reasons. It is the smallest hill station in the country, the only one in Asia free of automobiles, and its hill railway route is one of the oldest in the country. Matheran lies around 2,625 feet above sea level and around 120 km from Pune. Since automobiles are not allowed here, you need to trek to the hill station or go by horse back or carriage. Whatever you choose, the journey to the hill station is a unique experience in itself.

What to see: At Matheran, you can explore the various view points that look towards the Western Ghats and breath in the fresh, unpolluted air of the Sahyadris. The hill station is mostly a plateau at the top of the hill, covered by dense forests and Parsi and British-era buildings and bungalows. You also have several trekking trails here to explore.

Malshej Ghat

Malshej Ghats in the monsoons

Malshej Ghats in the monsoons

Another hill station that lies just a little less than 120 km from Pune is Malshej Ghat, the birthplace of the Maratha Empire’s founder Chhatrapati Shivaji. Malshej Ghat is considered a monsoon paradise, drenched in waterfalls during the rainy months of June to August. The brown hillside turns into a lush dark shade of green in the monsoons.

What to see: Monsoon is the best time to visit the Malshej Falls, Shivneri Fort, bird graveyard and Pimpalgaon Joga dam. Located along the Sahyadris, Malshej Ghat makes for an exciting, invigorating and rain-soaked monsoon getaway. The mountain pass goes from Desh to the Konkan coast, with the lofty Sahyadri hills for company. The region is rocky, rugged and uneven, and you can find forts, rock-cut caves and temples.

Bhandardara

Umbrella Falls, Bhandardara

Umbrella Falls, Bhandardara

Bhandardara lies around 170 km from Pune, besides Pravara River and the highest peak in Maharashtra, Mount Kalsubai. It lies in the Ahmednagar district, some distance away from Igatpuri. The trek to the Kalsubai summit is an intense experience in itself that warrants a visit to this place, but Bhandardara offers more than that.

What to see: The hill station is popular for its view of the hills and waterfalls, greenery and tranquil atmosphere. You have several trekking trails to explore nearby apart from Kalsubai, and you also have nearby pilgrimage sites like Trimbakeshwar and Ozar. There is also the famous Amruteshwar Temple dedicated to the god Shiva, with its unique architecture. And if you are not sold on the beauty of this place yet, these 10 mesmerizing photos will inspire you to visit Bhandardara this monsoon.

Chikhaldara

Chikhaldara in Maharashtra

Chikhaldara in Maharashtra

Located in the Amravati district, Chikhaldara is the farthest hill station from Pune in this list, lying around 600 km from Pune. While a weekend getaway to this place may be a bit hectic, you can make Chikhaldara your destination for a long weekend trip. The hill station lies around 1,100 meters above sea level and is mentioned in the epic Mahabharata.

What to see: You can visit the Melghat Project Tiger Area, where you can find tigers, blue bulls, barking deer, leopards, and other animals in the wild, amidst the forests hills and mountains. Ideal for a family or group outing, Chikhaldara offers rich history and natural beauty in a relaxed ambiance. It is, interestingly, the only hill station in the Vidarbha region, and it lies on the mountain region that separates Maharashtra from Madhya Pradesh.

Amboli

Amboli

Amboli

A relatively under-explored hill station at the fringes of the Sahyadri range, Amboli lies around 350 km from Pune, at an altitude of around 690 meters above sea level. It sees heavy rainfall almost for the whole year, with dense green forests covered in mist and waterfalls around it. As such, this makes for a great summer getaway for the weekend for Punekars. The lack of tourists makes for a quiet and tranquil atmosphere, and you have plenty of places to see and explore at your own pace.

What to see: There is the Hiranyakeshi River, Amboli Falls, and several temples like the Sridevi, Hanuman and Datta temples nearby. In fact, Amboli has around 108 Shiva temples. The place is home to a unique range of animals, birds and vegetation, making it an important ecological hotspot.

Panhala

Panhala Fort, Kolhapur

Panhala Fort, Kolhapur

The hill station of Panhala lies around 230 km south of Pune and is famous for its namesake fort built by Raja Bhoja II. The place is a popular summer getaway for folks from Pune and history buffs, thanks to the fort and the Parashar Caves. Panhala was once the capital of the Maratha Empire during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, perched on the top of the Sahyadri range.

What to see: The Panhala fort with double-walled doors still stand today. The walls of the fort still contain stone carvings from the time of its inception. Panhala today is notably the smallest city in Maharashtra, and it overlooks the valleys and forests of the Sahyadris. A visit to this place reminds you of the historical events that it has seen.

Tamhini Ghat

Rain water flowing at Tamhini Ghat

Located around 70 km from Pune, Tamhini Ghat is the place to go for nature and adventure lovers. The place is especially beautiful during the monsoons, when the dry brown hills around it turn green and the Mulshi Dam backwaters are at their highest level.

What to see: You can go rafting through the backwaters, and along the way you get to see the magnificent Palse waterfall. Kolad, famous for its river rafting on the Kundalika River, lies a little ahead from here. Both Kolad and Tamhini Ghat have plenty of resorts and cottages where you can relax and enjoy the sights around you.

Panchgani

Panchgani

Panchgani

The hill station of Panchgani lies around 20 km before you reach Mahabaleshwar, in Satara district. Established properly during the British Raj in the 19th century, Panchgani gets its name from the fact that it is set between five Sahyadri hills, and its scenic beauty is also derived from its geological position. The hill station is surrounded by the tall hills of Mahabaleshwar and the rest of the Sahyadris, with the coastal plains far towards the horizon.

What to see: Relatively less frequented than the popular hill station of Mahabaleshwar , Panchgani offers plenty of sights of its own, including the Dhom Dam reservoir and River Krishna. You also have the Table Land from where you can go paragliding, the Rajpuri Caves and the Karthikeya Temple. For more places to consider, here are 7 great places to visit near Pune in monsoon.

Have interesting travel photos you’d like to share with us? Send photos from your travels to travel@corp.india.com, don’t forget to mention where you’ve shot the picture and get a chance to be featured on our website! So what are you waiting for? Hurry!

Have something to add to this story? Post your comments in the discussion board below; we will be thrilled to hear from you!