Mumbai is a huge metropolis, and even though it is located on the Arabian Sea, it’s easy to feel confined by the high-rise apartments and cement sidewalks in the massive urban jungle. Sometimes you just need to escape for a few hours or even a day. Check out these three great places within or near Mumbai that are perfect for a day trip, whether you like exploring ancient caves, being by the beach or trekking through forests.
Located in the northern suburb of Borivali, Sanjay Gandhi National Park covers an area of about 40 square miles. It’s one of the largest parks in the world within the limits of a city. With lush green trees and great paths, it is a good place to go for a hike or a bike ride. The Kanheri Caves sit in the park and are a must-see attraction. They date back to the 1st century BC and have beautiful Buddhist carvings hidden within. The park is also home to a large variety of birds, butterflies, deer and even tigers, so take your binoculars — you never know what you may see. You can reach Sanjay Gandhi National Park by car from the Colaba neighborhood in Mumbai (about an hour and a half to three hours, depending on weather and traffic) or local train from Churchgate station (about an hour), with Borivali being the nearest local station to the park.
On the Northwest coast of Mumbai, just off of the suburb of Malad, sits Madh Island, famous for its quaint beachside villages and elite parties. This is where the locals go when they want to escape to the beach for a day or two. Mangroves surround the shores, which gives the island a rural feel — one quite unique from the mainland. Wander through the local fishing villages, relax at Aksa Beach or admire the architecture of the historic Portuguese fort, known as Madh Fort or Versova Fort. You might even catch a game of beach cricket with the local kids. Get to Madh Island by car from Colaba (time will vary depending on traffic, but it likely will be between an hour and a half to three hours) or take a train (about an hour) to Malad station and an auto rickshaw from there.
If you want to get away from Mumbai for half a day and also take in some of the city’s most well-known sights, visit Elephanta Island. The island is popular on Sundays, with lots of local families heading there for a relaxing picnic. The island is famous for its caves, which were discovered by the Portuguese, who also named the island. There are several of them, with both Hindu and Buddhist carvings dating back to about the 5th century, and they are some of the most famous historical sights in Mumbai. Travel to the island in about an hour on a ferry from the city’s Gateway of India.
Photos Courtesy of iStock-TanukiPhotography and Rakhee Ghelani