Between June and September, Mumbai experiences a steady stream of gray clouds and heavy rain — monsoon season. While the less-than-idyllic weather doesn’t seem to be the best time to visit the city, it’s also when India’s natural environment is at its most verdant and lush. Whether you’re in the mood for a romantic trip for two or would rather indulge in your adventurous side, embrace the beauty of the rains with these four weekend escapes from Mumbai.
A small hill station more than 60 miles from Mumbai, Matheran is situated in the Western Ghats in the region of Karjat. The ride to Matheran alone proves worth the trip, with a heritage railway chugging its way up the hillside, offering spectacular views across the hills and valleys.
Matheran is a small piece of bliss, and with no honking vehicles in sight, you almost forget you are anywhere near Mumbai. So close your eyes, breathe in the fresh air and simply enjoy the ambience of this quaint town.
India’s hill stations are known for their distinguished properties from the British Raj era, and The Verandah in the Forest is a unique example of Matheran’s storied past. Built in the 19th century, this heritage hotel features high ceilings and feels like a home among the trees. Wander down to Charlotte Lake, go horse riding or relax with a book on the verandah and enjoy the hospitality at this beautifully appointed property.
Only a two-and-a-half-hour drive south from Mumbai, Jambulne is peaceful, serene and wooded. Hidden among the waterfalls and dense valleys in a cloud forest is The Machan. This rustic eco-resort consists of tree houses that sit up to 45 feet above the forest, giving you a unique vantage point to observe the lush landscape below.
Designed with the environment in mind, each tree house blends into the natural surroundings. The resort itself is run entirely on sustainable resources, yet still manages to have luxuries such as rain showers, daily housekeeping and morning newspapers. Set over 25 acres, the hotel provides activities such as guided hikes, yoga, bird watching or stargazing.
The Western Ghats is home to a stunning mountain range and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hillside is a serene spot to rest and rejuvenate after a busy week. One of the newest resorts to open in the region — around a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Mumbai — is Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa. Located on 320 acres, this resort boasts villa-only accommodations that are set amid rice fields, bamboo plantations and virgin forests, so that you can explore the local region from the comfort of your private deck or balcony.
Retreat to the property’s beautiful 70-acre spa, which offers a unique blend of Asian practices and therapies. There are dedicated spa villas, a yoga pavilion, a meditation cave and a wide range of treatments available, from soaks in hydrotherapy tubs to chakra cleansing and acupressure. If you prefer to be active, take pottery classes, learn to cook local cuisines or partake in dance classes.
Should you feel the need to venture out of the resort, the ancient Buddhist rock caves of Karla and Bhaja are only a one-hour drive away.
While getting on a plane for a weekend getaway might seem a bit much, it is quite common for Mumbaikars, especially when the destination is the nearby paradise of Goa. This beachside state in West India is the playground of the country’s rich and famous, and is also a heralded spot during monsoon season, when the landscape glistens in shades of emerald. Less than an hour by plane from Mumbai, Goa has plenty of daily flights to the capital city.
One of the most prestigious properties in Goa is The Leela. A luxury resort set on 75 acres with beach frontage, it brings together the best of Portuguese and Indian heritage. The onsite spa features an in-house Ayurveda doctor, and eight different dining options run the gamut from seafood to Italian and Indian cuisines. One of the best perks the hotel offers is the personalized butler service. As the butler serves you a cocktail while you soak in the private plunge pool, it won’t take long to find solace in the laid-back Goan lifestyle.
Photos courtesy of Hilton Worldwide and The Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts