| Hill Stations near Mumbai|
The closest hill station to Mumbai, Matheran was discovered in 1850. This quaint little hill station provides lovely views of the nearby places from the Hart Point. On a clear night, you can even see the lights of Mumbai from Hart Point. The journey to Matheran involves an adventurous two-hour ascent in a toy train, with food and drink vendors and monkeys jumping on and off as the valley glides by sedately. Alternately, a tough 11 km hike through thick and shady forests or a winding car drive can get you there as well. The market offers a variety of items such as cane and leather articles, hats, sandals and a variety of sweets. Interestingly one thing that dominates the market is chikki, a confection made of gram flour, jaggery and cashew nut. You can also buy this universally popular sweetmeat in large quantity to carry back home. Matheran has retained the tranquility and peace of a hill station by not allowing any kind of motor vehicle into the town.
Temperatures vary from 16 C in winter to 32 C in summer, with an annual rainfall of 524 cms. October to May is the best time to plan your vacations in Matheran.
Mumbai, 100 kms away is the nearest airport. Neral station, 21 kms away is where you can catch the toy train. Mumbai by road is about 108 kms from Matheran via Karjat and Neral. Pune is 120 kms away. All cars and buses stop at Dasturi just outside, from which you can walk, take a horse or a hand-pulled rickshaw into the town. State Transport buses ply regularly from Mumbai and Pune.
Popularly known as the jewel of the Sahyadri Mountains, Lonavala is set amongst the sylvan hills of the Western Ghats and is a popular weekend gateway from Mumbai and Pune. It also serves as a starting point for tourists interested in visiting the famous ancient Buddhist rock cut caves of Bhaja and Karla, which are located near this hill station. It also has an important Yoga center near it, for the health conscious traveler.
The best time to go for vacations in Lonavala is between the months of October and May. Lonavala provides a panoramic view of the lush green surroundings of the Sahyadri ranges. The peaceful environs of the town provide a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai city. One can take a walk along the waterfalls, the grassy abundance and hills in and around Lonavala. The mountainous terrain of Lonavala is ideal for trekking and hiking. The lakes around Lonavala - Tugauli, Lonavala, Bhushi - are worth visiting during your vacations, and so is the Walvan Dam.
Situated just 5km from Lonavala is the small but picturesque Khandala hill station. A deep valley on one side and high hills on the other side divide Khandala and Lonavala. The town provides a panoramic view of the lush green hilly environs. Travelers throng this place during weekends to forget the Big City Blues, especially from the nearby cities of Mumbai and Pune. A simple stroll amongst the scenic beauty of this place can be quite a rejuvenating exercise. For the adventurous types, Khandala has a number of trekking trails around it for exploration.
The ideal time to go for vacation in Khandala is between the months of October and May. Bestowed with nature's undulating gifts, Khandala can be a pleasurable weekend getaway during your vacations in Mumbai. Khandala abounds with calm and misty lakes. Tugauli lake, Lonavala lake and Bhushi lake are worth visiting, apart from the Walvan Dam.
Karla and Bhaja Caves, located in the hills at a distance of 16 km from Khandala, are important places to visit. These rock-cut cave temples dating back to 2nd century BC and are amongst the oldest and finest examples of Buddhist rock-cut temple art in India, belonging to the Hinayana sect of Buddhism.
Weather of Lonavala and Khandala:
Temperatures vary from 12 C in winter to around 36 C in the peak of summer. The annual rainfall, when the climate is very pleasant, is 450 cms. October to May is the best time for vacations in Lonavala and Khandala.
Reaching Lonavala and Khandala:
Pune 66 kms away, is the nearest airport. All trains from Mumbai to Pune and the South stop at Lonavala. Mumbai is 104 kms away by road, the last 20 kms of which wind up the ghats through grueling switchbacks. There are regular buses and trains to the towns from Mumbai and Pune and the journey takes about three hours from Mumbai and one hour from Pune. Buses shuttle between Lonavala and Khandala. Travelers can hire bicycles on hourly basis to explore Lonavala or to go to Khandala. Taxis and auto-rickshaws easily available in Lonavala and Khandala.
As Lonavala and Khandala are on the main railway line between Mumbai and Pune, all express trains plying between the two cities stop here. The travel time from Lonavala and Khandala to Mumbai in express train is 3 hours while it takes 1 hour from Lonavala to Pune. There is also an hourly shuttle service for Pune, which takes around 2 hours.