Nirvana, when it rains
This monsoon, kiss goodbye to staying indoors. Travel experts across Mumbai spill the beans with Surekha S about their favourite, secret rain-soaked getaways around Mumbai, for maximum R&R, when the heavens open up
Sumitra Senapaty picks Gokarna in Karnataka
For Senapaty, who runs an all women’s group called Women on Wanderlust or WOW, monsoon is the best to head out for fun. She organises trips to various places only for women, and according to her one of the most beautiful places to visit in the monsoon is Gokarna. Though it falls in Karnataka, one can reach the place in about 13 to 14 hours by road. Gokarna is primarily known as a pilgrimage centre, but it has several beautiful beaches and landscapes, which makes it a beautiful monsoon destination. “Monsoon is a time when many resorts offer good discounts. So, heading out in this season is a great idea,” says 53-year-old Senapaty. According to her, Om beach in Gokarna is beautiful and one could stay at the SwaSwara resort. “Gokarna is an ideal place in the season as it’s beautiful. You can opt from wellness, meditation, and plenty more, making it a great place to switch off,”
How to reach
Gokarna is about 690 kms from Mumbai. Drive down or take any bus that goes via coastal Karnataka. It may take you between 12 and 14 hours by road. If you are pressed for time, fly to Goa from where it’s a three-hour drive.
Yogesh Kardile picks Koyna Sanctuary and Valley
Yogesh Kardile started Amazing Sahyadri, a website that is a treasure trove of information about the Sahyadris and it’s beauty. After travelling across India, he still feels that there can be no place as charming as the Sahyadris, especially in the rains. So, when quizzed about his favourite monsoon destination, Koyna came to his mind. The Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary and the Koyna Valley at large, he feels is a must-visit this season. “Not just the sanctuary but also the river and the greenery at Koyna is beautiful,” he adds. “It is below Mahabaleshwar. The forests are a haven for photographers,” he adds. People can park their cars outside the sanctuary and walk in for a short distance. “The end point of the valley is Tapola. It is the tip-end of Mahabaleshwar plateau from the southern point. You descend from the forested Mahabaleshwar hill into the Koyana valley, which is misty and magical. The journey to Tapola is awesome, but drive cautiously,” he warns. The place is also good for boating and experiencing the heavy rain in the valley is a fantastic experience. The huge Koyna River is a must-see. As regards the stay, Kardile recommends the Sagar Lakeview Hotel, which is 3 kms before Tapola.
How to reach
The distance from Mumbai is about 250 kms. You can head to Mahabaleshwar by bus and hire a taxi or a jeep to reach Koyana, which is less than half an hour away.
Gautam Shewakramani picks Silvassa
According to Shewakramani, whose company Audio Compass creates audio guides for different tourist places in India, Silvassa is a beautiful place to visit in the monsoon. Silvassa is a small town near Gujarat, and it is the capital of the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. “I tend to visit it often. It’s a place to switch off. It is very green and not crowded,” says Shewakramani. “You can also go on hikes around or just walk around in the greenery. It is beautiful, serene and calm,” he adds. He adds that the many picturesque Portuguese churches can be visited during one’s stay at Silvassa. For a quick weekend getaway from Mumbai, Silvassa makes for an ideal choice.
How to reach
It is about 170 kms from Mumbai and would take just about three hours to reach.
Harsh Sonawala picks Panhala
India Someday is a company that helps people plan their travel around the country and 28-year-old Harsh Sonawala, who runs the company, has been actively travelling across the country since over the last 10 years. He picks Panhala as his favourite, prized monsoon getaway. Panhala is famous for its forts, which were built by Shivaji and since it is at a height, it transforms into a spectacular retreat in the rains. “It comes alive when the clouds descend,” adds Sonawala. “Go via Kolhapur and you will be able to binge on delicious and spicy Misal Pav before heading to the summit,” he says. There are a couple of viewpoints atop the fort; advantage is that it is not very crowded. “Further ahead is Amboli, a hill station popular for its gushing waterfalls,” he informs.
How to reach
Panhala is about 375 kms from Mumbai. Hit the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and NH4 to reach Panhala. It is a six-hour drive. Panhala is about 25 kms from Kolhapur. You can also reach Kolhapur by bus and take a connecting bus to Panhala.