Matheran hills
A view of the Matheran hill station near Mumbai, Maharashtra. Photo: Shutterstock/Amit kg

Five hill stations of Maharashtra for a quick weekend getaway

A holiday or a vacation always means escaping to some picaresque destinations to rejuvenate themselves. Mountains are often the top picks for this. The cool, soothing atmosphere and the gentle breeze are ever so inviting to take respite from the scorching heat of the plains.

But more often than not, we go to the same old mountains of the North – the Himalayan belt. But did you know that the western ghats, especially the state of Maharashtra, are home to some of India's most beautiful and lush green hill stations?

Maharashtra encompassing most of the western ghats, is dotted with many quaint hill stations. All within a few hours of driving distance from almost all the state's major cities. So, if you are looking for a quick weekend getaway or even a longer holiday, consider heading to the hill stations of Maharashtra!

Presenting to you a small tour of some of the best hill stations.

1. Matheran

Situated on the Sahyadri range of the western ghats, Matheran, also known as the 'cutest little hill station of India', is located at an altitude of 2,600 ft above sea level. Just 100kms away from Mumbai, Matheran is the perfect place for a weekend getaway with friends and family.

Matheran is the only hill station in India that does not allow the entry of any vehicle in the hill station; thus, you can be assured of a pollution-free atmosphere !

A view of the Matheran hill station near Mumbai, Maharashtra. Photo: Shutterstock/CRS PHOTO

Get transported to a picture-perfect place as you step into Matheran. The lush green mountains, picture perfect cottages, red-soil walking tracks, and the famous Matheran toy train are sure to make a visit to his hill town one to remember forever.

Places to visit

1. Louisa Point - A famous viewing point to enjoy the spectacular view of the city and the remains of Prabal and Vishalgad Fort.

2. Charlotte Lake - Visit to catch a glimpse of the many birds that throng this place. Also good for viewing sunrise and sunset.

3. Shivaji's Ladder - This is a pathway with steps in the shape of a ladder. It is one of the most popular trekking points in Matheran. It is said that Maratha Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji used this pathway for his hunting trips in Matheran.

4. One Tree Hill Point - One of the most scenic viewing points. It is named so because it has just one tree growing on top of the hill.

5. Panorama Point - A scenic point in Matheran that offers 360-degree panoramic views of the Western Ghats and the plains below.

2. Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar means the 'God of Great Power' and is located at a distance of 285kms from Mumbai and 120kms from Pune. Also known as the 'Land of Strawberry, ' Mahabaleshwar is famous for being the top producer of strawberries in the country.

The Lingamala Waterfalls at Mahabaleshwar. Photo: Shutterstock/BHUSHAN VERLEKAR

This quaint hill station is also famous for its scenic beauty, including numerous rivers, cascading waterfalls, majestic viewing points, lakes, and more.

Mahabaleshwar is also considered to be a pilgrim centre for the Hindus as it is from here that the river Krishna originates. The site is also home to the ancient Mahabaleshwar (Shiva) temple.

Place to visit

1. Elephant's Head Point - One of the most picturesque viewpoints in Mahabaleshwar, it offers panoramic views of the Sahyadri range. This spot in fact even resembles the head and trunk of an elephant.

2. Chinaman's Fall - A mighty waterfall named after the Chinese prison in the vicinity.

3. Arthur's Seat - One of the most popular viewing points in Mahabaleshwar, Arthur's Seat, also known as Suicide Point, offers a spectacular view of the Brahma-Aranya valley and the Savitri River.

4. Venna Lake - A scenic artificial lake where you can enjoy boating.

5. Panchgani - Deriving its name from the five hills surrounding it, Panchgani is a popular hill station near Mahabaleshwar. Visit for its various sunset and sunrise points and scenic views.

6. Pratapgad Fort - Situated close to Mahabaleshwar, the Pratapgad Fort stands at 3500ft above sea level. Once the abode of the Maratha emperor Shivaji, the fort is now a popular tourist site

3. Malshej Ghat

A popular tourist spot in the western ghats, Malshej is a mountain pass and the perfect getaway from the busy cities of Mumbai and Pune. Malshej is particularly famous for the pink flamingos that migrate here during July and September.

This picture book hill station is particularly popular during the monsoon season. A great time to catch a glimpse of the flamingos and to experience the verdant hills coming to life in the rains.

The glorious view of Kalu river waterfall in Malshej Ghat in Maharashtra during the rainy season .Photo: Shutterstock/CRS PHOTO

Places to visit

1. Malshej Falls - A cascading waterfall amidst the western ghat forests

2. Harishchandragad - A 6th-century hill fort situated at 4670 feet above sea level. It is a popular trekking spot for tourists.

3. Ajoba Hill Fort - Another popular place for trekking and rock climbing

4. Pimpalgaon Joga Dam - A vast dam built over the Pushpavati River; this place offers a breathtaking view of the sunset.

4. Igatpuri

Located at a distance of 45kms from Nashik and 130kms from Mumbai, this hill station is famous for being home to the International Vipassana Academy, the largest Vipassana centre in India. Just like Malshej, Igatpuri too is popularly visited during the monsoon months. Igatpuri is surrounded by some of the highest peaks of the western ghats, most of which are forts built by the Satavahana Dynasty. The town is also a nature lover's and trekker's paradise and is perfect for a quick getaway from Mumbai.

Igatpuri, Maharashtra.Photo: Shutterstock/Akshata Khanolkar

Place to visit

1. Tringalwadi Fort - The 10th-century fort situated at the height of 3,000ft above sea level offers a panoramic view of the Nashik and Konkan route.

2. Vihigaon waterfall - Located 12km from Igatpuri, the waterfall is known for its natural beauty, and the 120ft fall.

3. Bhavali Dam - Built on the river Bham, the dam is built at 111.5ft and has a length of 5,090ft. It is a popular picnic spot in the region.

4. Sandhan Valley -Also known as Maharashtra's Grand Canyon, the Sandhan Valley is an ecological combination of a canyon and a valley. A popular place for adventure enthusiasts.

5. Lonavala

Located at a distance of 64kms from Pune and 96kms from Mumbai, Lonavala is a popular hill station in Maharashtra. Lonavala gets its name from Lonavli, which refers to the many cave-like structures found here, the more famous ones being the Karla and the Bhaja Cave.

Lonavala is also home to two fortresses -Lohagad and Visapur and is dotted with many lakes and waterfalls.

Tiger's Point in Lonavala, Maharashtra.Photo: Shutterstock/Neelkanth Kadam

Lonavala is the perfect place for adventure lovers. It offers an array of fun activities for tourists, including rappelling and camping at the Pawna Lake, hiking to the Tikona Fort, trekking to the Rajmachi fort, etc.

Places to visit

1. Tiger's Leap - Located 8km away from Lonavala, Tiger's Leap is a cliff top with a drop of 650m. A popular tourist spot, the place offers a magnificent view of the western ghats.

2. Lonavala Lake - A popular picnic spot, the Lonavala lake is located on the outskirts of Lonavala and is sourced by the Indrayani River.

3. Karla Caves - These are ancient Buddhist rock-cut caves located near Lonavala

4. Bhaja Caves - This is a group of 22 rock-cut 2nd-century Buddhist caves located near Pune

We hope that reading about these hill stations has got you thinking about your next getaway.

With monsoons here already, now is the perfect time to make a trip to the beautiful green western ghats.

So… which of these places are you looking forward to visiting?

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