The cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune is a great city situated on the right bank of the river Mutha. The city is not just known for its easy lifestyle and pleasant weather but also for stunning forts and temples. Pune was once the seat of the prime ministers of the Maratha Kingdom, the Pehshwas, and the centre of power established by Shivaji. This emerging city has several holiday spots and hill stations around it. Just outside Pune, these beautiful places serve as the perfect weekend getaways. Be it the lush green Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar or the serene Diveagar and Harihareshwar, Pune has a fantastic list of weekend getaways ranging from hilly terrains to marvelous beaches.
Located around 192 km west of Pune, Kashid is a beach town in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. Kashid beach is located some 30 km south of Alibaug. The paddy fields, mountain, rivulets and the white sand beach make it one of the most popular weekend getaways from Pune as well as Mumbai. Kashid is located on the Alibaug-Murud road and has one of the finest beaches in the state. The beach is not as commercialised as other beaches in the state and hence is not very crowded. The three kilometres long beach is located between two rocky hillocks. The beach is heaven for those who like surfing. Kashid has few small hotels where you can have local Konkani food.
Things to do: Known for its clear water, casuarina groves and white silvery sand, Kashid is the perfect beach for surfing as the waves reach the height of almost six feet. You can go for surfing almost throughout the year. During the period between November and January, you can also spot dolphins. You can also indulge in water sports like banana boat ride and water scooter. You can also swim but it is not recommended during the monsoon.
Best time to go: The best time to visit Kashid is during the winters.
Driving distance: 191.9 km (3 hours 55 minutes)
Where to stay:You can stay in cottages owned by locals. Other hotels in Kashid are Hotel Sai Palace (022 2414 1754), Nisarg Tourist Home (092269 73912), Kashid Beach Resort (092727 43074) and Prakruti Resort (096899 29208)
Tips: Do taste the Konkani fish thali served in one of the local restaurants. The thali is very sumptuous and delicious.
Located in Raigad district, Diveagar is around 160km west of Pune. This beach town is sparsly populated and include a fishing settlement, a temple and a beach. Locals are also engaged in beetle nut and coconut farming. The beach in Diveagar is around four kilometres long. The beach has a small fishing settlement at the north end, which also has a small stream entering the sea. The south end of the beach is home to a sanctuary for migratory birds. This pristine beach also serves as a nesting ground for sea turtles. You can also see thick cover of belu trees on the beach. Lined with casuarinas trees, the beach is an escape from the hustle-bustle of the city life. Diveagar is popular for the Suvarna Ganesha (Ganesha of Gold) temple. The temple has an interesting story. A copper box was discovered by a local farmer, Draupadi Patil, while ploughing her field. Inside the copper box was a Ganesha idol weighing more than 12 kg. People of the village constructed a temple around this Ganesha of Gold or the Suvarna Ganesha. The idol was stolen on March 25, 2012 and has been since replaced by a silver idol.
Diveagar was ruled by the Shilahara dynasty between the period of 800 and 1265 AD for about 450 years. Bussiness and trade flourished, but eventually it was plundered by Arab pirates and many temples were destroyed. Later Diveagar was under attack by the Portuguese and the Mughals.
Things to do: Apart from the beach, Diveagar has many temples. Uttareshwar temple is located near Srushti villa. The temple is dedicated to Shiva. Another temple you must visit here is the Roopnarayan temple. The main feature of this temple is the 900-year-ol idol of Vishnu. This beautifully carved idol was made during the 12 th century CE. Although the idol and the temple is called ‘Roopnarayan’, the idol depicts Vishnu as Lakshmi Keshav. The temple is adorned with delicate carvings of Mahesha and Brahma along with the ten avatars of Vishnu. Both the Uttareshwar temple and the Roopnarayan temple have been renovated recently and are worth a visit.
Best time to go: October to January is the best time to visit Diveagar.
Driving distance:160km (3 hours 20 minutes)
Where to stay: Some of the hotels in Diveagar include Royal Huts, Maitreya Beach Resort (9220 840 687), Exotica Beach Resort (099695 72239), Hotel Arya Inn and Cocohut Resort (091685 60989).
Tips: Club your trip to Diveagar with Harihareshwar and Shrivardhan.
Malshej is located about 120 km north of Pune. The region is one of the most popular tourist spots in Maharashtra. The thick forest, medieval forts, mountains, cliffs and several waterfalls make this place a paradise for adventure junkies and nature lovers. Malshej Ghat is the mountain pass nestled in the beautiful Western Ghats. The mountain pass is home to varieties of flora and fauna. You can spot cuckoos, flamingos, rails and quails here. The nearby Shivneri Fort is also famous. It is the birthplace of Maratha King Shivaji. Another tourist attraction is the Harishchandragad fort. It is famous for rock climbing, trekking, waterfall rappelling, bird watching and rappelling. The valley point in Malshej offers a spectacular view of the valley. The winding roads of Malshej Ghat are treacherous and caution should be exercised while driving especially during monsoons.
Things to do: Malshej Ghat is a popular weekend getaway and has many trekking and hiking route. Some of the famous trekking routes include Shivneri, Kalu waterfall, Naneghat and Harishchandragad. The gushing waterfalls and the wilderness will take you away from the city life. You can indulge in bird watching. You can spot flamingos in the ghat during the period between July and September.
Best time to go: Monsoon, which is between August and September, is a good time to visit Malshej Ghat. However, the ideal time for trekking and hiking is during winters between December and February.
Driving distance: 119.7 km (3 hours 11 minutes)
Where to stay: One of the most popular accommodation options is the guest house operated by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation. There are also few hotels and resort in the area like Saj By The Lake (95039 50318) and Hotel Nisarg.
Tips: Be cautious while driving on the winding roads of the valley as they become slippery during the monsoon. The area is prone to landslides.
Located just 47.3 km north-west of Pune, Kamshet is a hill station at an elevation of around 2200 ft. The hill station is just 16 km from Lonavala and Khandala. With rolling hills, lakes and green cover, Kamshet is the perfect weekend getaway destination. The hill station is nestled in the Western Ghats and sits on the ancient trade route that runs between Pune and the Konkan region. Medieval fortresses and ancient cave temples in and around Kamshet make it an interesting place. You can also go for trekking up the Kondeshwar Cliff or the Tower Hill. You can also visit Bhandar Dongar, Bhairi Caves and Kondeshwar temple.
Things to do: Kamshet attracts adventure enthusiasts from all over the state and the place is known for world-class paragliding facilities. Gliding over the beautiful landscape of Kamshet is once-in-a-lifetime experience.
You can visit Kondeshwar temple and pay your respects. The temple, which is dedicated to Shiva, has a great view of the waterfall and a pond. Built using black marbel, this ancient temple is a fine example of Hemadpanthi architecture. Located in the middle of a thick forest, it attracts devotees during the festival of Shivaratri.
Bhandar Dongar is located near kamshet is also known as Temple hill. An ancient temple dedicated to Sant Tukaram is situated on this hill. Devotees visiting this temple are greeted by devotional songs and the chirping birds. The hill is perfect for paragliding and attracts flying-sport aficionados. It is one of the most preferred spot for paragliding.
Bhairi Caves is another place you can visit. The cave is located at a height of 687 meters above sea level and is accessible after a small trek. The temple has few cooking utensils. According to a popular belief, if anyone tries to steal those utensils, goddess Bhairi of the caves punishes them.
Best time to go: October to April is the best time to visit Kamshet
Driving distance: 47.3 km (1 hour 12 minutes)
Where to stay: There are limited accommodation options in Kamshet. People usually stay at Khandala or Lonavala and visit Kamshet.Staying options are also offered by the paragliding tour operators. They also offer tents and dormitories. Check out Native Place (0 2114 286007), Nirvana Base Camp (2114 266187) and Paragliding Ashram (2114 266122)
Located around 75 km north-west of Pune, Lohagad is a hill station known for the Lohagad fort. Lohagad is located at an elevation of 3.389 ft and is near Lonavala, another hill station in the state of Maharashtra. Lohagad also overlooks the Pavana reservoir.
Lohagad fort is also known as the iron fort and is great option for trekking. A small range connects Lohagad fort to the close by Visapur fort. It is among the easier treks, perfect for the beginners. The fort has been occupied by Nizams, Marathas and Mughals at different periods of time. It was captured by Shivaji in 1648 CE but was later surrendered to Mughals under the Treaty of Purandar. The fort was recaptired by Shivaji, who used it to keep his loot from Surat. Later, the fort was used by Nana Phadnavis, who added many structures like water tanks and temples to it. The most popular feature of the fort is the northwest extension called Vinchukata (Scorpion's tail) as the fortified spur looks similar to the tail of a Scorpion. The government has declared Lohagad fort to be a protected monument.
The hill station looks surreal during the monsoon when the valley is covered in mist. The fort is a sight to behold during this time. Lohagad is the perfect weekend getaway for nature lovers or for those who like archaeology and history. The hill station is home to different types of insects and birds.
Things to do: The hill station is famous for Lohagad fort. The route, through a small village and small natural streams, is one of the easier treks. Enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding region from the top of the fort. You can see Pabana dam, Duke’s Nose and the summit of Tung Hills and Tikona Hill from the top.You can also go for boating and enjoy water sports at Pavana dam.
Best time to go: June to December is the best time to visit Lohagad.
Driving distance: 74.8 km (1 hour 46 minutes)
Where to stay: There are several good accommodation options near Lohagad. You could book rooms in budget hotels, which would cost you between Rs 1000 and Rs 2000, or luxury hotels. The mid-range hotels will cost you between Rs 3000 and Rs 5000. Most of the accommodation options are in Lonavala. Some of the best hotels near Lohagad are Hotel Rajdhani (02114 270 153), Sapphire Hotel (02114 324 048), Treasure Island Resorts (022 2362 3000), Govinda Resort (02114 286 215) and Chandralok Hotel (02114 272 294).
Located about 65 km north-west of Pune, Lonavala is a popular hill station and a weekend getaway from Pune as well as Mumbai. Known for its natural beauty and pleasant climate, Lonavala located at an elevation of 625 meters. It offers respite from the hustle bustle of the city. Lonavala is the perfect destination for people who want to escape from the city. The rain-fed waterfalls along the picturesque setting add to the charm of the place.
The hill station is dotted with caves like Karla, Bedsa and Bhaja. The name Lonavala is derived from lonavli, a Sanskrit word which means caves. People from Mumbai and Pune flock to this hill station during the monsoon season. The misty mountains, winding roads and the waterfalls make Lonavala a must-visit during the monsoons. You can also combine your trip to Lonavala with Khandala, Visapur and Lohagad. Lonavala and Khandala are twin hill stations.
Things to do: There are several places to visit in Lonavala. Tiger’s Leap point is one of the popular points at this hill stations. The point gets its name from the waterfall, which looks like a tiger leaping into the valley. You can see the waterfall during the monsoon. Another interesting place to visit is the echo point.Another famous tourist attraction is the Bushi dam. People from across the state flock to Lonavala during monsoon and make sure to visit the dam. You can swim in the dam but it is restricted during the monsoon as a precautionary measure.
Karla caves are one of the oldest rock-cut Buddhist caves in India. The cave complex is built into the rocky hillside. The caves have been decorated with detailed carvings. The caves have beautiful pillars, viharas (monasteries) and Chaityas (halls). You must also visit the Bhaja caves. Located amidst lush green forest and gushing waterfalls, the Bhaja caves will take you back in time. The place is preferred by people interested in history and architecture.
Best time to go: You can visit Lonavala throughout the year. However, the monsoon is the best time to see the hill station in it full glory.
Driving distance: 65.1 km (1 hour 14 minutes)
Where to stay: Some of the best hotel in Lonavala include Hotel Rajdhani (02114 270 153), Sai Moreshwar Resort (02114 277 361), Hotel Mount View ( 083800 04200), Zara's Resort (02114 269 163) and Retreat Heritage Lonavala (02114 270 755).
Tips: Don’t forget to stuff your pockets with chikkis. Lonavala is known for the hard candy made using peanuts and jiggery. In lonavala, you will get different verities of chikki from peanut to cashew. You must visit Cooper’s, which is famous for their chocolate walnut fudge. Another thing you must have here is the corn pakoda.
Located around 69 km north-west of Pune, Khandala is a hill station nestled in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. Lonavala and Khandala are called the twin hill stations. Khandala is known for its cool climate and natural beauty. From Yadavas to Mughals, many have vied for control of Khandala due to its strategic position. Eventually, Khandala fell under the control of British.
Khanadala is popular among the trekkers. Khandala is located close to one of the ancient trade routes connecting cities like Sopara and Pune. The hill station has been featured in many Bollywood movies. Similar to Lonavala, Khandala is a treat for eyes during the monsoon. People flock to these two hill stations during the rains. The clouds covering the mountains and many waterfalls along the valley will relax you.
Things to do: Most of the places to visit in Khandala are the same as Lonavala. Amrutanjan Point is one of the popular points in Khandala and offers a stunning view of the surrounding region. Another point is the Duke’s Nose also known as ‘Nagfani’, which means Cobra Head. The point gets its name from the Duke of Wellington, whose pointed nose was similar to the cliff. The 2506 ft. tall cliff is popular among the rock climbers. It is also a popular destination for rappelling, valley cfrossinmg and trekking.
You can also visit Karla and Bhaja caves from Khandala. These historic rock-cut caves have Chaitya style and are an interesting place to visit. Karla caves are one of the oldest Buddhist caves in the country. Bushi dam and Tiger’s leap are other places you could visit near Khandala.
Best time to go: You can visit Khandala throughout the year. Plan your visit during the monsoon to see misty mountains, majestic waterfalls and greenery.
Driving distance: 68.8km (1 hour 25 minutes)
Where to stay: Mystica Resort (02114 270 091), The Dukes Retreat (020 3015 7391), The Signature Crest Santogen Khandala ( 022 4089 4089) and Royal Park (092721 00200) are some of the best hotels in Khandala.
Tips: Roasted corn and vada pav are must-have if you are visiting Khandala.
Located 120.5 km south of Pune, Mahabaleshwar is a famous summer retreat in Maharashtra. In Sanskrit the name, Mahabalehswar, means ‘God of Great Power’. Nestled in the lush green Western Ghats, Mahabaleshwar is blessed with pleasant climate. The temples and the stunning views make this place a favourite among tourists. Durign the British Raj, the palace was the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency. The architecture of Mahabaleshwar reflects its colonial past. The bungalows, cottages and mansions built by the British add charm to this place.
Mahabaleshwar was captured by Chandarao More during the 16 th century. He also constructed the popular Mahabaleshwar temple. Several viewing points of this hill station are named after British officers. Arthur’s Seat gets its name from Arthur Malet. Lodwick Point is named after Col Lodwick, who climbed the mountain with his contigenmt of soldiers in April 1825.
The Krishna River originates from Mahabaleshwar and flows across the Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telanmgana and Karnataka. The source of the river is a small stream flowing out of the mouth of a statue of a cow located in an ancient temple dedicated to Shiva. Apartr from Krishna four other rivers originate from the mouth of this statue. These rivers are Gayatri, Savitri, Veni and Koyna.
The climate of Mahabaleshwar is suitable for strawberry farming. You will find many strawberry farms here. Mahabaleshwar is also famous for pure honey.
Things to do: You can visit Tapola, which is also called ‘The Mini Kashmir’. The rustic hamlet with a beautiful lake is one of the most popular tourist spot and is preferred bytrekkers, photographers and nature lovers. The scenic view of the place relaxes you. Non air-conditioned tents are available here for the overnight stay.
Another tourist attraction is Kaas Plateau, the valley of flower. The plateau is located 35 km from Mahabaleshwar. Spread over 1000 hactare, Kaas plateau is a visual treat. Wild flowers cover the plateau during the month of August and September. You can see the blooms till October. Covered in different colours, the plateau looks like a beautiful carpet. Over 450 different species of orchids and flowers can be found here. People flock to this place during the blooming season to enjoy this amazing view. The plateau has received the statues of World Natural Heritage Site.
The Baghdad point in Mahabaleshwar offers a stunning view of the backwaters of Koyna dam. You can also see the slops of Mahabaleshwar plateau and Solshi River.
Best time to go: Monsoon and winter are the best season to visit Mahabaleshwar.
Driving distance: 120.5 km (2 hours 56 minutes)
Where to stay: Sai Signature Cottage (022 4089 4091), Meera Vatika (09819738309), Hotel Prity Sangam (7507036024) and Bella Vista Resort (077988 44872) are some of the hotels you could checkout for accommodation.
Tips: Make sure you take home fresh strawberries and honey from Mahabaleshwar for your family and friends.
Located about 226.7 km north of Pune, Igatpuri is one of the popular weekend destinations from Pune. With gushing waterfalls, majestic mountains, pleasant climate, old forts and green vistas, Igatpuri attracts nature lovers and trekkers. Monsoon brings out the beauty of this place. Igatpuri is also home to the Vipassana International Academy. The centre provides training in Vipassana meditation technique along with a ten-day meditation course.
Igatpuri is located close to Thal Ghat, which is a gateway to Nashik and Pune. Due to its strategic location, Igatpuri has many forts. The most prominent forts in Igatpuri are Ratangad fort and Tringalwadi fort. These forts attract many visitors and trekkers. Amruteshwar temple and Ghatandevi temple are other tourist attractions.
Things to do: Located amidst the Sahyadri mountain range, Igatpuri is ideal for adventure activities like rappelling, rock climbing and trekking.
You can visit the Vaitarna dam, which is built on the Vaitarna River. This gravity and landfill dam is a popular tourist spot that offers a sweeping view of the Western Ghats. The dam is the main source of water and electricity for several parts of Mumbai.
Camel valley is another place you could visit near Igatpuri. Located close to the majestic Bhatsa River Valley, Camel valley springs to life during the monsoon with waterfalls. The green valley covered in mist is a sight to behold. You can also indulge in water sports like river crossing and river rafting.
Best time to go: November to March is the best time to visit Igatpuri.
Driving distance: 226.7 km (4 hours 35 minutes)
Where to stay: There are several hotels in Igatpuri. These include Hotel Comfort Inn (092722 08555), Mystic Valley Spa Resort (02553 242 017), Dew Drops Boutique Retreat ( 088799 97781) and RainForest Resort (084228 80192).
Located 326 km south of Pune, Ganpatipule is famous for its beach and temple dedicated to Ganesha. There are two popular stories regarding how the town was named Ganpatipule. According to folklore, Ganesha got offended by a remark and left his abode, gule, and reached Pule. As per another legend, the town was named after the white sand, which is called Pule in Marathi. The sand is used for making the Ganesha idol.
The town is a major pilgrimage site with devotees from all over the state visiting the Swayambhu Ganpati temple. Swayambhu Ganpati means that the idol is self-manifested. The most unique feature of this 400-year-old temple is that it is one of the few temples across the India in which the face of the presiding deity is towards west. The hill behind the temple is also famous and it offers a sweeping view of the surrounding area. You can view upto Varawada, Malgund and Tivari port.
The beach in Ganpatipule is one of the major tourist destinations. The long beach of white sand, clear water will invite you to relax and forget about your stress. Swimming is not recommended due to the rocky stretches.
Things to do: You can enjoy several water sports in Ganpatipule beach. The 6 km long stretch of the pristine and unexplored beach is perfect for sunbathing. You can relax on the beach and witness a magical sunset. For adventure enthusiasts, the beach offers pedal boats, aero boats, water scooters, rowboats and motor boats.
The Ganpati Swayambhu temple another place you must visit in Ganpatipule. It is said that the idol of Ganpati was found by a farmer in the Kerda jungles and a temple was built around it. The temple has two idols; one is made of brass and the other using fine white sand. The brass idol depicts Ganpati riding a lion.
Best time to go: The period between October and February is the best time to visit Ganpatipule.
Driving distance: 326 km (6 hours 37 minutes)
Where to stay: You can stay in state-operated MTDC hopliday resort, which is located close to the beach. Abhishek Beach Resort and Spa (076200 44777), Blue Ocean Resort & Spa (02357 235 488), Hotel Durvankur (097022 29999) and The Fern Greenleaf Resort (02357 235 533) are some of the best hotels in Ganpatipule.
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