Weekend breaks in Mumbai
Many expats will say that the key to staying sane in Mumbai is spending plenty of time outside of the city. So, when Mumbai's bedlam gets too much, expats can recharge their batteries by heading to one of the many neighbouring tourist locations.
A weekend break from Mumbai can take the form of anything from golfing to wine tasting, from exploring ancient caves or lush forests to sunbathing on the beach.
Less than 125 miles (200km) northeast of Mumbai is Nashik, India's wine region and home to the Sula and Reveilo vineyards. A bit closer to home is Aamby Valley City, which offers green vistas, golf, restaurants, chalets, and villas; and Matheran, a beautiful hill station ideal for a total escape from urban life.
Alternatively, beach lovers can soak up the sun on the rugged coastline of the Konkan Coast, and those up for a longer journey can experience the ancient Buddhist caves at Ajanta and Ellora.
Those who want to drive to their destination should plan to exit Mumbai outside of peak hours to cut down on travelling time. Keep in mind that there aren't many decent places to stop for gas, food or bathrooms on Indian roads so plan accordingly. Wherever the destination, the lungs will always appreciate the cleaner air, the ears will enjoy a little peace and quiet, and expats are able to return to Mumbai feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
Recommended weekend breaks around Mumbai
This quaint hill station on top of the Sahyadris Mountains is a great escape for those in need of fresh air and a glimpse of greenery; it's a true antithesis to Mumbai and even automobiles are prohibited. Attractions include walking paths in the forest, a Panorama Point (for lovely views of the sunrise), horseback rides yielding to various vistas, and the toy train – Matheran's one and only form of motorised transport. If one wants to avoid the crowds, visit during monsoon season. Otherwise, expats can expect this favourite hill station to be fairly busy on weekends and during the holidays.
Aamby Valley City
Aamby Valley claims to be India's first planned and self-contained city, but don't let the word "city" conjure images of a concrete jungle. In contrast, Aamby Valley is full of rolling hills, flower beds, and plenty of nature. It's not without modern conveniences, however; well-appointed chalets and villas, restaurants, an open-air theatre, indoor sports, swimming pools, Keralan massage treatments, and an 18-hole golf course are all available and easy to access.
Nashik is India's leading wine region. Roughly three and a half hours from Mumbai expats will find the lovely Sula and the Reveilo Vineyards. Sula, the first vineyard in the area, is more widely known, but both offer wine tastings and tours of their respective estates. There is a 20-room resort and a three-bedroom villa at Sula Vineyards called "Beyond". Reveilo does not have in-house accommodation, though there are a few good hotels in Nashik for those planning a weekend of wine tasting and relaxing.
The Konkan Coast
This 450-mile (720km) stretch of coastline extends from Raigad to Mangaluru, and is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west and the Western Ghats to the east. Though all of Mumbai actually fits into this area, a weekend break to one of the remote, white, sandy beaches of the Konkan can feel like a trip to another place and time.
Murud, situated 100 miles (165km) south of Mumbai, is the closest place to feel far away. The destination features a pretty beach, an island fortress, and the Ahmedganj Palace. To make a real trip of it, travel all the way down the coastline with a hired car and driver until one reaches the touristy shores of Goa.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves
Those who prefer a bit of cultural heritage can board an overnight train or a 45-minute flight to Aurangabad, and visit the caves of Ajanta and Ellora. The Ajanta Caves include over thirty rock-cut monuments, inside of which are important Buddhist paintings and sculptures. Similarly, Ellora, a mere 20-minute drive outside of Aurangabad, claims religious caves carved from the Charanandri Hills. Both Ajanta and Ellora are World Heritage Sites and attract tourists from around the globe.