From ancient cave temples and white-sand beaches to forts and bird sanctuaries, there are several places around Mumbai that will more than hold a visitors interest. But to narrow it down, here are some of the more popular retreats.
Borivali National Park starts within Mumbai limits and extends outside it. There are opportunities for trekking, bird-watching and hiking there. Esselworld is a waterpark with rides, restaurants and even a haunted house. Karnala Bird Sanctuary has several species of migratory and local birds as well as other flora and fauna. There is a fort, as well as easy trekking ot be done here.
Within Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali, lie the Buddhist, Kanheri caves that date from the 3rd century BC onwards. There are older caves at Karla, a religious destination, which date back to almost 160 BC. Elephanta caves are on an island 7 kilometres off the mainland of Mumbai near Uran. These caves date from between the 10th and 11th century AD.
Vasai and Arnala fort are about 10 kilometres apart and quite close to Mumbai. Lesser-known Korlai fort overlooks a tiny fishing village where a community of less than 1000 speaks a version of Portugese Creole more than two centuries after the Portugese occupation. Raigad fort was Chhatrapati Shivaji's capital and where he was crowned in 1674. Other forts of note are Daulatabad, Pratapgarh, Murud-Janjira, Kondana, Sindudurgh, Vijayadurg and Ahmednagar.
Madh, Alibaug, Kashid, Ganpatiphule, all lie along the Konkan coast and vary in distance from a couple of hours to an overnight journey. While Madh and Alibaug are more touristy and have every convenience, Kashid and Ganpatiphule, are less crowded and offer cleaner, a more rustic ambience.
Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar and Khandala, are popular hill stations for those with a day or two to spare. Matheran allows no vehicular traffic, but has a toy train that operates up to the station.