When it comes to Indian states blessed with lush green hills and quaint holiday spots characterized by pleasant weather and natural beauty, Maharashtra tops the list. This is evident in Maharashtra’s mesmerizing hill stations which, nestled in the Western Sahyadris, make for excellent tourist destinations. With major cities like Mumbai and Pune surrounded by scintillating getaways at driving distances, Maharashtra’s hill stations are the finest in the country with pleasant weather and some fine trekking opportunities.
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Whether you are looking for a weekend break or a long vacation in the hills, Maharashtra has something for every kind of traveler. From the most popular hill stations like Mahabaleshwar and Matheran to hidden gems like Chikhaldara and Amboli, the state has no dearth of places to offer. We list the top hill stations in Maharashtra with details of the best way to explore them and come back with a bag full of beautiful memories and your souls refreshed after a tour in the lap of nature’s beauty. Take a look and start packing.
Bhandardara is one of the most popular hill stations in Maharashtra and rightly so. It has the higest peak in the state Mount Kalsubai, it is dotted with forts and it also boasts of good trekking trails. The lush greenery during the monsoon increases the natural beauty of the hill station manifold. Even with so much to offer, it isn’t extremely commercial yet which means it is less crowded than other hill stations and its natural beauty is intact. With so much to offer, a visit to Bhandardara is a must for anyone who lives or visits Maharashtra.
The hill station is at the banks of River Pravara and according to a legend, it was the deep meditation of Sage Agastya that pleased the gods and granted a stream in Bhandardara that is today known as Pravara.
Best time to go: August to February
How to reach: One can drive down to Bhandardara as it is well-connected by road from all major cities in Maharashtra like Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, etc. If you are taking the train, the nearest railway head is Igatpuri which is 35 km away from Bhandardara. However, taxis are available to take you there. State-run buses also go to Bhandardara from most regions.
Where to stay: MTDC Holiday Resort offers comfortable rooms that are close to the Wilson Dam. You can book online on their website. Cottons Forest Resort (022 42443312) is a luxury hotel in the region. Hotel Amruteshwar (08806644930) is a basic budget hotel in Bhandardara.
Things to do: Bhandardara is famous for its treks. Some of the most popular ones are trek to Kalsubai Peak, to the 200-year-old Ratangad Fort and to the Harishchandragad Fort which was built in the 6th century. If you aren’t much of a trekker, go can simply take in the lush greenery of this hill station during the monsoon. Other points of attraction are the Wilson Dam and Umbrella Falls. The oldest dam in the country, it is at a height of 150m above sea level and gives rise to the Umbrella Falls. It also has a pool and garden at its base. Lake Arthur is another spot to visit in Bhandardara. Go for a boat ride in the evening or camp here and stare into the waters of the lake. You can even take a dip if you like. 8 km away from the lake is the Amruteshwar Temple, a beautiful Shiva temple carved in stone. It is believed to be over 1200 years old.
Jawhar is slightly an offbeat hill station but it is one that shouldn’t be missed. Steeped in history and culture, it is home to three different tribes who take pride in preserving and displaying their traditions. They even offer homestays to travelers. Jawahar has many sightseeing points that offer a majestic view of the place and make your trip a memorable one. Forts, waterfalls and a peek into their culture will keep you busy in Jawhar. A weekend trip is enough to experience the beauty of Jawhar. What’s more, the climate is pleasant throughout the year making it a destination you can visit at any given point.
Best time to go: January to December
How to reach: Jawhar is well-connected by road from major cities in Maharashtra making it apt for a road trip on the weekend. You can also take a train to Igatpuri which is 60 km away from Jawhar and then take a taxi from here. MSRTC buses ply at regular intervals from most cities to Jawhar.
Where to stay: To truly experience the way locals live in Jawhar, it is best to stay in a homestay. You can go there and look for options. However, if you prefer a hotel room to a house, there are a few options available. Symphony Lakeview Resort (+91 9324412668), Sunset Point Resort (+91 9272057333) and Shanti Sarovar Resort (08080175050) are a few budget and mid-range options. Unlike other popular hill stations, Jawhar does not have too many accommodation options.
Things to do: Jawhar is home to the Warli tribe that gave the world the Warli painting that depicts the life of the people in the form of stick figures in white on a reddish-brown background. You can learn the art and even buy souvenirs of these paintings to take back home. The tribal heritage tour is a good way to learn more about their culture and view their ancestral residence. Hanuman Point is surrounded by lush greenery and according to a legend, it is where Hanuman rested on his way to Lanka. Dabdaba Falls showcase nature’s bounty in full force especially during the monsoon. Another place of interest is the Bhopatgad Fort that was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji. Even though it is a small fort, it has locals and well as tourists paying a visit to it. This is so because there are four sets of footprints near the fort that are believed to be of Ram, Sita and their sons Luv and Kush. With so much to offer, Jawhar should definitely be on your travel wish list.
Every Mumbaikar’s favorite getaway from the city, Lonavala is a short drive away from both Mumbai and Pune and offers breathtaking views of the hills. Along with Khandala, the twin cities make for a splendid retreat. Both Lonavala and Khandala are famed for their natural splendour and even though they can be visited at any time of the year, the monsoon months are one of the best to witness its charm. The rains paint a green cover and waterfalls break out at different places. The winding roads, the sweet taste of chai as you sit on the hill and sip it and the pleasant breeze are all too good to be missed. If you haven’t visited these hill stations yet, it’s time to do it right away.
Best time to go: January to December
How to reach: The Mumbai-Pune Expressway is the best way to reach Lonavala and Khandala and the drive is very pleasant. There are also trains and buses to Lonavala as it has its own railway station and bus depot. State-run as well as private bus services are available from most major cities.
Where to stay: Being a popular hill station, Lonavala has several accommodation options that will suit every budget. Most people stay in Lonavala and visit Khandala. If you do not want to stay in a hotel, you can even consider renting a bungalow or villa in Lonavala. Some luxury hotels are The Machan (+91 22 26716033) and Fariyas Resort (+91 2261119400). Zara’s Resort (02114 269163), Lonavala: Under the Over (02114 279503) are mid-range accommodation. The Dukes Retreat (020 3015 7391) is one of the options in Khandala that offers all amenities and is close to Khandala railway station.
Things to do: Lonvala’s chikki and fudge are a must try and you will find plenty of shops selling these. One of the best things to do in Lonavala is to head to Tiger’s Point and take in the breathtaking view. You can sit your car, play music, order some snacks like Maggi, bhajia and tea and have a pleasant time. There is also Bhushi Dam which is often visited in the monsoon. In Khandala, you can visit Duke’s Nose which is a cliff and offers scenic vistas. Bhaja Caves can also be on your list however it isn’t a very touristy spot. These are some of the oldest Buddhist caves and are known for this rock-cut architecture.
Another popular hill station that attracts people from not just Maharashtra but other parts of the country too is Mahabaleshwar. It is as known for its natural vistas as it is for its strawberry farms. Located in the Western Ghats, the winding roads make for a beautiful long drive. On the way, you can also stop at Panchgani and then move on to Mahabaleshwar. The hill station offers several sightseeing places and activities that make it a popular choice for families as well as couples. There is no dearth of accommodation options to suit every budget in Mahabaleshwar. Here’s what’s in store for you.
Best time to go: November to June
How to reach: Mahabaleshwar is accessible by road from major cities in the state. You can either drive down or take a bus. The route can be slightly longer and there are ghats on the way so if you have motion sickness you may want to have medication. Mahabaleshwar doesn’t have a railway station so you have to get off at Wathar which is 60 km away. Or, you could even go to Pune and take a taxi or bus from there to reach Mahabaleshwar.
Where to stay: Mahabaleshwar has many hotels because of the number of tourists that come here. If you are on a budget trip, you can book a stay at Hilltop House (094057 46699). Blue Country Resort (02168 241521) is a family-friendly resort while Le Meridian Resort & Spa (02168 262222) is a luxury hotel.
Things to do: When you enter Mahabaleshwar you will notice the en number of ads of the brand Mapro that produces jams, jellies and juices. They even have a garden open for public called Mapro Gardens where you can buy its products, relish some yummy strawberry and cream and enjoy a meal in a pleasant setting. Venna Lake offers boating and sweet corn or bhutta sellers to keep you satiated. For a panoramic view of the hills, visit Arthur’s Seat. And if you love watching beautiful sunrise and sunsets, do not miss Wilson Point and Elphinstone Point. Lodwick Point, Helen’s Point and Baghdad Point are other attractions in Mahabaleshwar. In Panchgani, you can go to Table Land which is a flat land surrounded by peaks. Many films have been shot here. Don’t forget to take your camera along and Mahabaleshwar offers some breathtaking backdrops.
If you want to experience a place with its old world charm intact, Matheran is the place to be. The quaint hill station has managed to retain its beauty and charm despite being a popular tourist attraction. Until last year, it also had a toy train to take you there. However, the service has been suspended this year onwards. Matheran is known as a family getaway and you can be assured of coming back a few kilos lighter thanks to the uphill walk that it requires. One of the reasons why Matheran has been able to maintain its beauty is by restricting vehicles to enter it beyond a point. This means, you can reach here only on foot or by hiring a pony. But the walk is worth the effort as you will be greeted with splendid views of the forest and hills.
Best time to go: October to May
How to reach: Matheran is connected by road with all major cities. You will have to park you vechile at Dasturi Car Park in Neral as automobiles are not allowed beyond this point. If you are coming by train, get off at Neral Junction. From here you can avail of local transport to reach the point from where you can start trekking.
Where to stay: Matheran is home to several good stays thanks to its popularity. If you are looking for family-friendly places that offer good amenities, your options are Adamo Resort (022 40628899), Sun n Shade Resort (+91 9421158261) and The Verandah in the Forest (011 46661634).
Things to do: The main thing to do in Matheran is to trek to the place. This will take up most of your time but once you reach here you’ll know it was worth the effort. Here you will see the true beauty of the hill station. Matheran also has reddish-brownish mud that is distinct from anything you’ve seen before. The hill station also has something for adventure lovers as it offers activities like rock-climbing, paragliding, hiking, etc. Louisa Point is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Matheran. It is one of the best places to catch the sunset. On the other hand, Panorama Point is perfect for the seeing the rising sun. In fact, you will find tourists heading here early morning for this purpose. Another interesting attraction is the Echo Point where you can hear echo of your voice. In October and November, you can also witness a waterfall from here. All these points are perfect for getting some amazing shots.
One of the most recent additions to the list of hill stations in Maharashtra is Lavasa. Not just a weekend getaway, Lavasa is also India’s first planned hill station and a smart city. Lavasa is a short driving distance away from Mumbai and Pune and promises a different kind of experience than most other hill stations in the state. Being a planned one, things are organized and in order and you will find offices to guide you where to go and what to do in Lavasa. The hotels are close by and each one has its own charm. Lavasa is also not very big yet and construction is ongoing so you can cover the area in a day or two. This makes it a relaxing weekend getaway with your loved one or family.
Best time to go: September to March
How to reach: The best way to reach Lavasa is by road as it is well-connected to Mumbai and Pune. The nearest railway station is Lonavala which is about 29 km away but it is best to either take your own vehicle or rent one when planning a trip to Lavasa. Buses don’t ply all the way to Lavasa yet so you will have to go till Pune or Lonavala.
Where to stay: Since Lavasa isn’t a very big hill station, there are limited accommodation options and almost all of them are mid-range to luxury ones. You will not find budget stays here. Ekaant the Retreat (020 67983000) is a little away from the promenade but offers majestic views of the hill station. On the other hand Waterfront Shaw (020 66541414) is right next to the promenade. Fortune Select Dasve (020 67904444) is another option you can consider when in Lavasa which is walking distance from the promenade.
Things to do: The serene hill station is known for its pleasant climate and breathtaking vistas. However, it also has many activities to offer to adventure seekers. Jet-ski, boating, zip lining, trekking, camping, zorbing and several others are conducted in Lavasa. You can even hire tandem bikes and cycle around town. In the evening, go to the promenade which is lined with restaurants and pubs that offer different cuisines from Indian street food to Italian and Oriental cuisines. If you are in the mood for some exercise, climb the steps leading up to a vantage point where you can get a bird’s eye view of the lake and the surrounding hills. Lavasa is also a getaway for people who just want to relax and not do much on a vacation.
Amobli has a lot going for it and so it features among one of the best hill stations to visit in Maharashtra. Mumbaikars may find the journey to be a bit taxing as it can take over eight hours to get here. However, we can assure you that Amboli’s breathtaking vistas will melt away your stress and tiredness from the long and ardours journey. The hill station is known for a lot of things. It has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. The lush greenery is simply majestic. It is one of the wettest places in Maharashtra. And, despite being a hill station, it is also close to a beach thanks to the coastal Konkan stretch. All these factors make Amboli one of the most beautiful hill stations in the state and the rains simply take its beauty a notch higher. What’s more, the weather is always pleasant here making it an all-year-round destination.
Best time to go: June to February
How to reach: The closest railway head for Amobli is Sawantwadi which is 30 km away. From here you can take a bus or hire a cab or a rickshaw to reach Amboli. Buses ply from all major cities to Sawantwadi from where you go ahead to reach this hill station. From some cities you may also get a cab till Amboli for a nominal amount.
Where to stay: There aren’t too many stay options as you’d find in other hill stations. But the ones that are here are good enough to stay for a weekend. MTDC has one property in Amboli that you can book online. Silver Spring Resort (02363 240260) offers basic rooms. Amboli Ruby Resort (090757 60869) is another hotel you can stay in.
Things to do: Visit Amboli primarily for its natural beauty and splendor. While it is one of the best hill stations because it isn’t as crowded as the other popular ones, you may get bored if you don’t love nature. When here, you can check out the Amboli Waterfalls. Not just tourists, even locals come here to bathe in its cool waters. Since Amobli is perched at a height 690m above sea level, you can expect great vistas from here. The monsoon makes the air misty giving it a romantic aura that is perfect for any couple on vacation. Seaview point, Parikshit Point and Kavelsad Point offer some amazing sceneries of the confluence of the Arabian Sea and the Konkan Coast. The Hiryanakeshi Falls are also majestic and have a Shiva temple near the mouth of the caves. Mahadev Falls and Nagatta Falls are others you can visit.
This offbeat hill station is one of Maharashtra’s best-kept secrets. A serene and quaint place, it offers splendid views and the much-needed respite for city dwellers. Did you know Chikhaldara was called the England of Maharashtra during British era as it had the weather and topography like their country? At a height of 1118m above sea level, it makes for the perfect weekend getaway to escape the madness of the city and find some solace in nature’s bounty. Chikhaldara may be hard to reach but once here, you probably wouldn’t want to leave. One more unique thing about Chikhaldara is that it is the only hill station in Maharashtra that has coffee plantations. It also has mythological significance as it was mentioned in Mahabharata.
Best time to go: October to June
How to reach: Chikhaldara is in the Amravati district which is also the nearest railway station. However it is 100 km away from the hill station. MSRTC has buses plying to Amravati from where you will have to take local transport to reach the hill station.
Where to stay: Being a remote and underdeveloped hill station, there aren’t many hotels in the area. However, you can look for homestays after you reach here. Hotel Harshawardhan (094059 78170) is one property that offers cozy rooms. Your other option is Satpura Retreat (094231 28252).
Things to do: Chikhaldara is very close to Madhya Pradesh and three sides of its borders are shared with the Melghat Project Tiger Area. This means, you can spot tigers at this hill station too. Not just tigers, it is home to other wildlife animals like sambar, sloth bear, wild dogs, panthers, etc. The Gavilgad Fort is a massive one that is known for its architecture and should not be missed when in Chikhaldara. Hurricane Point, Prospects Point and Devi Point are perfect to soak in the natural beauty of Chikhaldara. The hill station is also mentioned in the epic Mahabharata as this is the place where Bheema killed Keechaka and then threw him in the valley. Originally, the hill station was called Keechakadara but over time it changed to Chikhaldara. You can visit Bheemkund to learn more about this legend. Go to Malviya Point early morning to catch a beautiful sunrise and end your day at Sunset Point with a beautiful see off to the sun.