Besides the range of tourist sites in Mumbai you may choose to spend some time in tranquillity, move out of the hustle and bustle of the city and visit the cool and calm destinations around the city.
Located nine kilometres by sea from the Gateway of India, are the Elephanta Caves, a place you must include in your excursion itinerary. The Elephanta Caves are characterised by rock temples carved out of two hills that emerge from the centre of the island. It is said that the Portuguese named this island after the stone elephant they found here. At Elephanta you can see the cave shrine of Lord Shiva, which belongs to the sixth century, and a massive three-headed sculpture representing Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. You can also find the other interesting sculptures which foretell the marriage of Shiva and Parvati.
Rock-cut structures are one of the most primitive forms of architecture found in several parts of India. The Karla Caves in Maharashtra are one of the finest examples of this architectural style. The Caves are located high in the surrounding hills. A narrow winding path, leads up to them. Built by Buddhist monks, the caves are keeping with the Buddhist ideas of simplicity. The caves are characterised by many halls and a huge stone stupa along with the 2000-year-old teak wood ceiling which is still intact. Outside the cave is a pillar crowned with lions. This was an emblem of the Buddhist King Ashoka, now adopted by the Indian Government as the state emblem.
A small trip of about four miles will take you to the famous Kanheri Caves a must visit excursion spot of Mumbai. The caves are believed to have been carved out by Buddhist monks between the 2nd and 9th centuries and have many interesting facts related to them. Situated in the centre of Mumbai’s Borivili National Park, the Kanheri caves are also regarded as one of the biggest Buddhist monastic establishment on the Konkan coast. An unusual feature at Kanheri is the number of open benches cut out of rocks. Almost all the caves have benches in their verandahs or front courts. Sit down on one of these. And with the evening breeze that comes from the sea refreshing you, you realise their purpose at once.
Matheran is one of the nearest hill stations of Mumbai. Calm and undisturbed, Matheran makes a favourite getaway for the city dwellers who want to take a break from the city’s hustle and bustle. Discovered in 1850, Matheran provides very nice view of the nearby places from the Hart point. A human buggy is the main mode of transport in Matheran. Interestingly one thing that dominates the market is chikki, a confection made of gram flour, jaggery and cashew nut. You can also buy this universally popular sweetmeat in large quantity to carry back home. Matheran has retained the tranquility and peace of a hill station by not allowing any kind of motor vehicle into the town.
Located at a distance of 120 kilometres from Mumbai, Lonavla is a favourite hilly destination around Mumbai. Ideal for a day or weekend trip, Lonavla is beautiful and cool hill station decorated with gurgling streams and quiet glided walks. The waterfalls of Tungarly or trek up to the Duke’s Nose (a gigantic hillock )will also give you the complete feeling of being close to mother nature. A must visit to be included in your Mumbai excursion itinerary.