It’s properly wet outside and you’ve loaded the most amazing music which will accompany you on a drive you think will make your heart go green just like the vistas outside. So you leave a crowded city behind to reach a place which is brimming with drunk, half naked men who are dancing to a cheesy track which is farting out of speakers which were lifted straight from a Disco. As they smash it into Bose and Burmester’s face, a mellow you, your pretty co-driver, and all of your Raag Malhar drive back home disappointed, another wet weekend wasted. Where do you go now? Allow us to suggest some of the most romantic monsoon drives around Mumbai.
Raigad Fort Natural Reserve
A mere 169 kilometres from the city, this place is full of history, sharp peaks tearing the clouds, and landscape which makes you pinch yourself. Take the Mumbai-Pune Expressway till Khopoli, branch off to reach the NH-17 from there, turn left from this town called Mangaon, which will take you towards a place which isn’t a destination. The area surrounding the fort is so enchanting, you could simply explore, or pick a spot, call it your own.
A Different route to Panchgani
If you’re ready to take the longer route, try it this way. Take the NH-17 till Mahad, cross the bridge over the Savitri river, take the first left that goes towards Pune, and then continue straight. Turn left towards Shivtargadh, drive carefully, for some peacock will definitely cross your path, walk up to a cave that hides behind a mammoth waterfall, and then climb back towards the Bhor ghat. On the way, you’d be rewarded with glorious views of a valley that does look like it belongs somewhere in the Himalayas.
Continue to reach a little town called Bhor through hairpins hidden in mist, then turn right on a road towards Wai which cuts through rolling hills where some conifers stand tall and sway merrily in the wind.
If you’ve reached Lonavala somehow and have started to feel claustrophobic already, here’s what you can do. Head towards Amby Valley. A couple kilometres before the main gate, you’ll come across a fork from where if you turn right, you’d be heading towards Tamhini.
This is a narrow road which has rivulets flowing across, is covered in mist, snakes its way through pretty valleys, and even runs parallel to a huge lake towards the end. You may choose to take the same route back, or head towards Pune to take the expressway and head back home again.
If you wish to miss the prettily drenched places in Konkan for some reason and head north, there are many options too. One of them is to head towards Igatpuri on the Nasik highway, turn right at the place called Ghoti, and then either choose to explore the places around or head towards Bhandardara.
On your way, if you’re lucky, Kalsubai, the highest peak in Maharashtra might decide to slide its cloudy veil just for you. The more adventurous can also head towards Mandu in Madhya Pradesh.
Who Dares Wins
This one is for the brave. But the rewards are plenty. You will at least need 3 days to complete this trip, so plan in advance. On the first day, reach Ratnagiri, and if you’re still left with time, you may choose to proceed towards Vengurla on the coastal highway or call it a day at Ganpatipule. Reserve the second day to fill your eyes with visions of high plateaus, wide creeks, and some of the most unusually pretty landscape you will come across.
Soak in the views of a bloated sea as it runs parallel to the road, admire its beauty from a high point, or take a walk on a damp, lonely beach. Reach Vengurla, take the Amboli ghat route towards Kolhapur for your return journey, and ensure you have some daylight to spare before you hit the Pune-Bangalore highway to come back home.
Whatever you do, ensure your wipers swipe the windscreen clean. We’d recommend you replace the blades with new ones. Make sure your tyres are healthy and so is the spare, because there is a high possibility of encountering a puncture during these times.
Ensure illumination is functional, bright, and do wipe the muck off the reflectors regularly so that you can see where you’re going and others can see you too. Please do not litter or indulge in acts which harm the nature, local sentiments, or travellers around you. Drive carefully, with caution, and have a good time. You’re welcome.