The Konkan Coast
The Konkan coast is a narrow strip between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. It is an area with deserted beaches and abandoned forts. It is known for its produce of fish, avocados and alphonso mangos.
Chaul is a Portuguese settlement built in 1522. They built a fortified township with numerous churches, factories and a governor's house. But the Marathas sacked them and they eventually gave up Chaul to Marathas. Chaul is situated on the north shore of the Roha River. One can reach Chaul from gateway of India by ferry service. The journey will be approximately for one hour.
Janjira is the 16th century capital of the Siddis of Janjira. Located 160km south of Mumbai, the island fortress is one of Maharashtra's most commanding coastal forts. The fort's 12m high walls made it impregnable to everyone. Shivaji tried to conquer it from the sea and it is said that his son Sambhaji tried to take it by tunnelling to it. The fort is accessible only by local boats from Murud.
Kashid is a beach resort located about 20km north of Janjira. It is a 3km stretch of unspoilt beach which is clean and promises good swimming. Kashid can be accessed by a four hour bus journey from Mumbai.
Located 375km from Mumbai, Ganpatipule is known for its swayambhu monolithic Ganpathi which attracts thousands of devotees from all over India. It is also one of the serene beaches of Maharashtra.
Ratnagiri is located 19km south of Ganpatipule and it is the largest town in the Konkan coast. It is also the main transport hub and the birthplace of Lokamanya Tilak, the freedom fighter. Konkan railway is the best way to reach Ratnagiri and Ganpatipule. The nearest airport is Belgaum, in Karnataka at 64km.
Matheran is the nearest hill station to Mumbai. Situated at an altitude of 800m above sea level, it is an undulating hilltop with shady trees and walking tracks. On a clear day one can have a breadth taking view of Mumbai from Hart point. Discovered by Huge Malet in 1850, it soon became a popular hill station during the British Raj.
In Matheran, motor vehicles and bicycles are not permitted. The best season to visit materan is from Nov-Feb and from April-June. The two hour journey to Matheran by the narrow gauge train through the scenic surroundings will be thrilling and something to remember. A variety of accommodation facilities are available in Matheran.
Lonavala & Khandala
Located 106km south-east of Mumbai, Khandala and Lonavala are two hill stations, 5 kms apart, on the Mumbai-Pune highway at an altitude of 625m. They are very popular with Mumbaities and they also alternate as getaways and health resorts. Though not much to see in the towns, it is the most convenient base from which one can visit the Karla and Bhaja caves.
Pune, 66 kms away, is the nearest airport. All trains from Mumbai to Pune and the South stop at Lonavala. Taxis and auto-rickshaws are easily available in Lonavala and Khandala. Accommodation in a number of luxury and budget hotels is also available in Khandala and Lonavala.
Built around 80 BC, Karla, 12 km from Lonavala, is the site of the largest rock cut chaitya (temple) caves in India. Amongst the best-preserved Buddhist temples in India, they are the finest examples of this style of temple architecture. The temple is carved by monks and artisans from the rock imitating the wooden architecture. The 37 pillars those form the isles are topped by kneeling elephants. An Ashoka Pillar topped by four back to back lions stands outside the cave.
About 3 kms from the main road is the more peaceful setting of the Bhaja Caves. Dating from around 200 BC, 10 of the 18 caves here are viharas (monasteries) while Cave 12 is an open chaitya earlier than the chaitas of Karla. Lohagad Fort and Visapura Fort, old and atmospheric, are located on the hills above the caves.
The island city of Mumbai is situated off the west coast of India, south of the tropic of Cancer. Because of a wide bay between the city and the mainland, Mumbai has been a natural harbour and trading centre. Mumbai is the gateway to India from the west. Being the commercial capital of the country, Mumbai has all infrastructures for domestic and international travel. Domestic and international airlines connect Mumbai with all parts of the country and the world. Major raiways and highways connect Mumbai to the rest of the country. For More Information ....
Bassein Fort, now in ruins, was a Portuguese 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 10km to the north-west lays Nalasopara village, the capital of the Konkan region from 1500 BC to AD 1300. Many Buddhist relics were discovered here. Vajreshwari Temple and Akoli Hot Springs are an hour by bus from Bassein. Also easily accessible is Ganeshpuri with the Sadguru Nityanand Maharaj Samadhi Mandir, the Bhimeshwar Temple and other ashrams.
From Mumbai, Bassein Fort can be reached easily by local 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.
Located at a distance of 11-km from Mumbai, the Elephanta Island is the site of the magnificent Elephanta caves, containing beautiful carvings, sculptures, and a temple to the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. Once known as Gharapuri, or the Fortress City, the caves are now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visited by hundreds of tourists, they contain some of the finest rock-cut sculptures in India.
Situated on the side of a thickly wooded valley in the middle of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the well-known Kanheri Cave Complex that was built between the 2nd and 9th centuries by the Buddhist monks of Hinayana faith. The 109-cave line is one of the largest monastic settlements in India.
The most impressive cave is the 2nd century Cave No. 3, whose entrance is flanked by two huge statues of Buddha carved in the 6th century. The interior has an arcade of pillars with intricate carvings of lions and elephants with a 5m stupa in the rear.
Situated on River Nag, in the centre of India, Nagpur is India's orange growing capital. The present city was founded in the early 18th century by Bhakt Buland, a Gond prince of the kingdom of Deogad in the Chhindwara district. By the mid 18th century, it came in possession of the Marathats. By 1817 the British took control of Nagpur. In 1861 it became the capital of the Central Provices. After independence it was incorporated in Maharashtra. Nagpur celebrates the conversion of Dr. Ambedkar to Buddhism on the 18th of every year and thousands of Buddhists join the celebration.
Nagpur has a domestic airport and it is connected to Mumbai and Delhi by air. National highways and state highways connect the city to other parts of the country. It is a major train junction and trains originate from Nagpur to all major centres of the country.