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Around Mumbai- The Offical website of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, Govt. of India
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Elephanta Caves
Across the Mumbai Harbour, lie the seventh-century rock-cut temples of Elephanta. Once known as Gharapuri, or the Fortress City, the Caves are now designated as a World Heritage Site and visited by hundreds of tourists both for their art historical and scenic value. The Portuguese renamed this island Elephanta after a large stone elephant found near the shore ( the elephant sculpture collapsed in 1814, when the British relocated it to the Victoria Gardens now Mumbai's zoo, where it still stands).
Getting there:
Approach to the Island is by boat. Luxury and ordinary launches as well as catamarans leave for Elephanta from Apollo Bunder at the Gateway of India. Boats usually leave every half-hour from 9 am to 2 pm from Apollo Bunder and between 1 pm and 5 pm from Elephanta Island. Tickets are sold at booths near the Gateway of India and the MTDC offers daily tours to the Island. During the monsoons the ordinary boat services are usually suspended.
 
Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Kanheri Caves
104 sq. kmS of green hills and forests, this protected area lies near the northern suburb of Borivali. In fact the park was formerly known as the Borivali National Park. There is a Lion Safari Park 500 m inside the entrance and safari rides run daily except Monday from 9 am to 5 pm. The park is also well known for the 109 Kanheri Caves ( in particular Cave 3), built between the 2nd and 9th centuries as viharas (monasteries) and chaityas (prayer halls).
Getting there:
Visitors can take the train on the Western line (from Churchgate) to Borivali station and then an auto-rickshaw to the Caves. On Sundays and public holidays, a bus service runs from Borivali station to the Caves. The MTDC suburban tour also includes Kanheri in its itinerary.
 
Marve, Manori and Gorai
North of Mumbai and away from its bustling crowds and pollution, are these 3 beaches that have become popular havens for Mumbai's beleaguered fun lovers. Marve, the closest and the quietest is a lovely little fishing village. There are some beautiful bungalows and up-scale homes belonging to the city's wealthy used mainly as weekend getaways. Low hills along the beach offer you extraordinary views of sunrise and sunset. Gorai and Manori, a little further away, are more crowded with revellers and are famous for all night beach parties.
Getting there:
Marve is about 40 kms by car from Mumbai. You can alight at Malad railway station (a suburban station on the Western Railway line) and proceed by road. A 15 minute ferry ride from Marve or Borivali will take you to Manori or Gorai.
 
Mandwa and Kihim
You will find these two beach fronts 12 miles north of Alibag on the north coast and easily accessible from Mumbai. Mandwa is a beautiful, untrodden beach. On a clear day one can enjoy a long, breathtaking view across the bay, up to the Gateway of India. Mandwa village too, has a charm of its own -- with its beautiful groves of coconut palms. Plan an unusual tent holiday nearby at Kihim.
Getting there:

It is accessible by boats and road. There is regular ferry service between the Gateway of India and Mandwa Jetty. For Kihim, one can take an auto-rickshaw or bus further onwards. By road, Kihim is 136 kms from Mumbai.

 
Bassein
Bassein Fort, now in ruins, was under the Portuguese a thriving fortified city from 1534 to 1739 when it was sacked by the Marathas. The ruins of the Portuguese Fort still stand almost hidden by brushwood and palm groves. Some of the walls and churches can still be seen. About 10 kms to the north-west lies Nalasopara village, the capital of the Konkan region from 1500 BC to AD 1300. Many Buddhist relics were discovered here. Nalasopara is believed to have been the birthplace of the Buddha in a previous life. To the north, is the Agar of Agashi and to the south is the Agar of Bassein. An hour by bus from Bassein station are the Vajreshwari Temple and Akoli Hot Springs. Also easily accessible is Ganeshpuri with the Sadguru Nityanand Maharaj Samadhi Mandir, the Bhimeshwar Temple and other ashrams.
Getting there:
Bassein Fort can be reached by train up to Bassein or Vasai Road station on the Western Railway and then by auto-rickshaw or taxi. By road, it is 77 kms along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway.
 
Khandala, Lonavala and Karla
Khandala and Lonavala are two charming hill stations on the western slopes of the Sahyadris, 5 kms apart straddling the Mumbai-Pune highway at an altitude of 625 m. Very popular with Mumbaites, they also alternate as getaways and health resorts. Khandala is the smaller and calmer of the two, though browsing through Lonavala's bazaar could yield some wonderful surprises.
Weather:
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 to visit.
Getting there

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. Taxis and auto-rickshaws easily available in Lonavala and Khandala, are the best way of getting to and from Karla.

 
Matheran
Matheran is an undulating hilltop cloaked in shady trees, that sprawls languidly at an altitude of 800 m. The journey 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.
Weather:
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 visit.
Getting there
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.
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