Picnicking in the rain
It's National Picnic month in the US but the Mumbai monsoon is good enough an excuse for an excursion. Four city families encourage you to bring your own weather to a picnic
A play school in the open
When a child sees a rock or a river, they see endless possibilities," says Aditi Bhonsle, 44, who runs an outlet of a multinational technology company. Her two children have complete freedom to set up a tent even in the lawns of their building in Parel. "For us, a picnic is any place we can set up a mat. We've camped inside tents on cliffs with some firewood. I feel that barring Panchgani's Table Land, the other four plateaus are really ignored and so, we've often camped there and are in fact, heading there this weekend. Carrying tarpaulin sheets in the car is a must during this season," she shares.
Bhonsle's children camping under their building
HOW TO REACH It's a five-hour drive to Panchgani via the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. By train, you can either alight at Chiplun or Pune and take a cab.
Tripping away from tradition
Architect Smita Vijaykumar maintains that traditional picnics are dying out, and so, every two months, she along with her family of four drive out of the city with a plan to stay in a resort or a hotel. But the drive is still the best part. The 37-year-old says, "This is the only time you'll get to see the waterfalls. If you wish to take that one big vacation, then that's fine but I feel with kids, you need a bit of spontaneity, which is where picnics come into the picture. The drive to Bhandardara comes with stunning views and do stop by for the classic bhutta by Pawna lake."
A picnic at a farm in Lonavala
HOW TO REACH Igatpuri is the nearest railway station to Bhandardara and you can hire a cab from there. It's a four-and-a-half hour drive otherwise along the Mumbai-Nasik road via Ghoti.
The bigger, the better
Jai Vilas Palace, Jawhar
For the past five years, Karl Pinto's family has made picnics a tradition. "We are a gang of 20 people in the age group of 25 to 60 years. Since you can't do long vacations in the city, we do one three-four day trip every alternate month and drive down. It's also cost effective considering we're a big group," the Borivali resident, 32, says. Pinto recommends Jawhar in Palghar as an offbeat destination with its historic fort and palace built of pink stone. He adds, "It's on the way to Gujarat and offers nice personalised villas to fit your budget."
HOW TO REACH The nearest train station is Igatpuri but it's a three-hour scenic drive. For food, there's the famous Shri Datta's on the Mumbai-Gujarat Highway.
Manas Mandir, Shahapur
"You do not know what is on the other side," says Riddhi Solanki. The monthly family picnics she organises have been a ritual for nine years and include up to 20 members. "In Panvel, we discovered a beautiful eco-village called Kanhapur that would be great to visit during the rains. They practise solar water harvesting and make handicrafts as well. Since we're Jains, Shahapur's Manas Mandir is also a good one-day trip. If you spot a snake there, it's considered auspicious," Solanki, 25, says.
HOW TO REACH Shahapur is a one-and-a-half hour drive from Mumbai and the nearest railway station is Asangaon. Kanhapur, on the other hand, is 24 kms ahead of Panvel and you'll have to rely on local assistance for directions to the village.
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