Amidst soaring temperatures and spikes of rain in some parts of the country, the months of April and May mark the arrival of a sunshine state of mind. Bright flowers bloom, and warm, sunny days follow beckoning us to step outside and seek beach days, enjoy fresh fruits, and food and soak in balmy sunsets that don’t look as vibrant all year long. Doesn’t this sound like the perfect time to take a trip to an Indian wellness destination?
Located in the west-central part of India, Maharashtra is synonymous with cosmopolitan, progressive, and vibrant states of being. If you look beyond the glitz and glamour thanks to the “City of Dreams”, Maharashtra’s allure expands to historic temples and forts, old monuments, art hubs, and serene beaches – something to keep everyone mindfully preoccupied. As April ends and May begins, Maharashtra transforms into a lush landscape with the retreating summer and the arrival of much-needed showers of rain. From discovering lost forts to embarking on a relaxing hike or going for a summer swim in the sun kissed ocean, here’s where to go in Maharashtra to enjoy the many delights of the state.
Immerse Yourself In The History & Culture
The Gateway of India
First erected in 1911 as a cardboard structure to commemorate the arrival of King-Emperor George V and Queen-Empress Mary in India, British architect George Wittet knew he’d never be able to complete his ambitious project in time for their arrival. Modelled after the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, the arch holds elements of 16th-century Indo-Saracenic architecture from Gujarat and is built from locally sourced basalt, having been completed in 1924.
As a symbol of Mumbai and a cinematic backdrop for love, intrigue, and drama, depicted by iconic filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Mani Ratnam, and J Om Prakash. One of the most gorgeous sunsets you’ll ever see in Mumbai would be set against the backdrop of the Gateway of India, with the celebrated Taj Mahal Palace bathed in the orange rays, making for a memorable Bombay moment.
Ajanta & Ellora
Reckoned to be one of the most culturally rich places in Maharashtra, Ajanta & Ellora caves are brimming with carefully carved sculptures and paintings depicting the Buddhist culture. Tucked away into the side of a cliff in the Aurangabad district in Maharashtra, the 30 rock-cut caves are deemed as the oldest surviving monument of India’s Golden Age. Dated back to being built between 200 BC and 700 CE, the caves are divided into three parts, Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist caves adorned with remarkable dry frescos.
Global Vipassana Pagoda
The Global Vipassana Pagoda in Mumbai was built in 2000 in honour of Lord Buddha, to spread the true meaning of his teachings through meditation and mindfulness practices. Shaped like a dome with a capacity to seat 8,000 devotees and Vipassana practitioners, the Pagoda despite residing in the busy suburbs of Gorai, Mumbai offers the quietest and most peaceful spot to find mindfulness. Built as a token of gratitude towards Vipassana teacher and Account General of Independent Burma, Sayagyi U Ba Khin, the structure celebrates his contribution towards bringing Vipassana back to India after it ceased to exist here.
CST (Victoria Terminus)
One of the icons of Mumbai, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus, is an emblematic railway station in the city that sees lakhs and lakhs of passengers rush through its portals every day. The monument, designed by British architect FW Stevens, is a spectacular example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, representing east-meets-west style blended with themes deriving from traditional Indian palace architecture like a stone dome, turrets, pointed arches, and eccentric ground plan. Anyone who has ever lived in or visited Mumbai has paused to take in the marvel of this beauty.
Spread across 4 acres of land, Deekshabhoomi is an architectural marvel residing in the city of Nagpur, in Maharashtra. The architecture of the structure resembles that of the sacred Sanchi Stupa and was built to give Buddhism followers a haven to practice mindfulness and meditation. The name translates to ‘the ground where people get ordained as Buddhists’. Deekshabhoomi rhapsodically gained momentum and popularity after Indian political personality Dr. B. R. Ambedkar converted from Hinduism to Buddhism at the monument on October 14, 1956. The day he chose was Ashoka Vijaya Dashmi, the day emperor Ashoka had also converted to Buddhism in the past. The historic day saw 600,000 followers choose the Buddhist way to live.
Bathe In The Eternal Beauty Of Nature
Anyone who has an eye for beauty cannot miss the Lonar Lake in the Bulandh District of Maharashtra. One of the world’s largest impact craters, this spectacular geological feature was created about 50,000 years ago when a meteorite struck the Earth’s surface and left a crater that spans almost two miles in circumference. Holding both alkaline and saline water, this travel spot is one of a kind as the minerals in the Lonar Lake soil are very similar to those found in the rocks from the Moon.
Nestled between the carpeted hills of Maharashtra, this man-made lake near Lonavala is the ultimate weekend destination that flourishes when the rain pours. Away from the chaos of the city, this marvel will have you drenched in a sense of peace as you take in the panoramic views and enjoy adventure activities like camping, zip-lining, paragliding, boating, swimming, and more. Bask in an epic sunrise from the ShindeWadi hills in Kamshet and let the incredible aura of nature wrap you in a serene embrace.
Kaas Plateau of Flowers
Awarded a UNESCO World Heritage Site tag thanks to its stunning biodiversity, Kaas plateau, also known as Kaas Pathar, houses more than 850 species of plants. From gorgeous orchids to wild and carnivorous Drosera Indica, the valley of flowers blooms to all its glory only in September. The flushing meadows, carpeted along the earth bloom up to over a foot tall and the sight is something to behold. Make a day out of it and enjoy a peaceful picnic with your family and friends, building memories that will last you for a lifetime.
Tadoba Andhari National Park
One of India’s forty-seven project tiger reserves, Tadoba National Park resides in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. Spread across an expanse of 1727 sq. Km, this stunning wildlife park features a beautiful jungle with hilly terrain and undulating landscapes. These grassy meadows are where the predators hide and peak out for a show as you navigate the flatlands on a jungle safari. Consisting of 20 different zones, travellers can expect a different topography in each. From wooded flatlands, grassy meadows, hilly terrains, riverbeds, and valleys to bamboo jungles, teak wood canopies, and beyond, the Royal Bengal tigers are a regular sight at this park and will catch you by surprise every time.
The pride of the Konkan, Thoseghar waterfall is situated near the Satara region of Maharashtra and gets its name from the village of Thoseghar. This waterfall must find a place on your Maharashtra bucket list as it is a sight to see. The roar of the water will catch your attention before you’re even present at the viewing platform and the site will take your breath away as milky streams of water plunges down from a height of 200 meters. The twin waterfalls, aptly named Chota Dhabdaba (Small waterfall) and Mota Dhabdaba (Big waterfall), fall into a U-shaped gorge that flourishes with fresh river water during the monsoon months in Maharashtra. The best time to visit this marvel is from August to October.
Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary
This paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers is a must-visit on your trip to Maharashtra. Situated near the Kumbhargaon village, the Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary is famous for sights of the Great Flamingos, Earasian Spoonbill, Bar Headed Goose, Collared Pratincole, and the Osprey, birds of prey. Bhigwan is also home to the fastest bird in the animal kingdom, the Peregrine falcon and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll be visited by one.
Fondly known as the ‘Everest of Maharashtra’, Kalsubai sits tall at 1646 meters (5400 feet), surrounded by rolling hills and carpeted mountains that bathe the peak in lush green. For residents of Maharashtra, Kalsubai is a trekker’s dream and if you love the feel of adrenaline running through your veins, this one is an expedition you absolutely cannot miss. Scaling Kalsubai is a rite of passage for trekkers around the state and takes up to 3 to 4 hours to reach the crest. And the trek is worth it as the summit has ayou witness the panoramic views of the encompassing mountains, and water bodies that nestle at the bottom of the mountain.
A hill fort in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, Harishchandragad is a trekker’s paradise. An ancient fort considered to be from the medieval period, it is believed that the great sage Changdev (who wrote the epic Tatvasaar), used to meditate at Harishchandragad in the 14th century. The trek is most serene during the monsoons with the Khireshwar route or Pachnai being the safest. Trek across paddy fields and past the ancient caves and reach the top of the fort to enjoy a cosy meal as you watch the sun rise from between the valleys.
Deep within the forests surrounding the Bhira Dam lies the Devkund Waterfall which gushes down a height of 80 feet. One of the most unexplored waterfalls in India, Devkund comes alive during the monsoon. The path starts along the banks of the dam and heads into the forests. Tea stalls along the way keep your company should you feel tired and in need for a chai break. But once you’re at the falls, you’ll be stunned by its beauty. The trip is incomplete without a swim in the small pond below the falls and if you want to stay the night, you can camp nearby to wake up to a beautiful sunrise.
When in Maharashtra, you must make the most of this coastal state with a weekend at the beach or an extended vacation by the azure seas. One of the offbeat coastal towns that most people aren’t aware of is Malvan. Located in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, the lonely shores, silky white beaches, clear water, and golden sunsets will make for a memorable getaway that epitomises a laid-back vibe. Lying at the far end of the Konkan stretch of Maharashtra, Malvan’s charm is best experienced on a road trip across different coastal villages. Go with no agenda but to enjoy the serenity of the place and a hunger for exploration.
On your road trip across Malvan, make Tarkarli one of your must-stop destinations. Located very close to the Sindhudurg fort, Tarkarli not only offers pristine beaches that give you the opportunity to sunbathe and just vegetate but also adventure activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, and clear waters that are waiting to be explored. Once you’re there, head off on an adventure of your own to visit a range of islands peppered across the waters of Sindhudurg.
Connect With The Divine Wisdom Of Ancient Temples
Shirdi Sai Baba Temple
One of the most popular pilgrimage towns in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, Shirdi is said to be the abode of Saint Sai Baba until his Samadhi in 1918. Woven around the teachings of the saint, every year, the town attracts over 60,000 devotees and followers from all faiths, religions, and backgrounds. Despite being a chaotic and crowded destination, the temple itself provides a spiritual peace like none other. The best time to visit differs based on whether you want to visit on an auspicious date or prefer some peace when you visit.
More than 200 years old, Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple dates back to 1801. Deubai Patil, an Agri woman, commissioned and funded the construction of the mandir, which was then built by Mr Laxman Vithu Patil and consecrated on 19th November 1801. Marked as one of the most iconic landmarks of Mumbai, this famous Ganesh Temple spanned only 3.6 square meters in size before a major renovation took the evolved the temple into the monument it is today.
Dedicated to one of the avatars of Lord Shiva called Khandoba, the Khandoba temple lies in the town of Jejuri, southeast of Pune city in Maharashtra. Dripping in yellow turmeric, one of the ingredients offered to the lord along with coconuts, it is believed that to honour the deity, you must dress in shades of yellow while visiting the temple. 450 steep steps lead up to the temple but the view from the top and moments of peace felt during your visit are worth it all.
Situated 28 kilometers from the city of Nashik in Maharashtra, the Trimbakeshwar temple lies near mountain Brahamagiri, from where the river Godavari flows. Historically constructed on the site of an existing temple by the third Peshwa, Balaji Bajirao, in the mid-18th century, the temple signifies twelve Jyotirlingas or pillars of light where Lord Shiva is worshipped. The holy pond called “Kushavarta” is only a five-minute walk from the temple and is where the river Ganga begins its journey to the rest of India.
Nanded lies on the banks of river Godavari and is the second largest state in the Marathwada area of Maharashtra. The place holds significance in Sikhism as the Hazur Sahib Gurudwara or the Nanded Gurudwara resides there. This Gurudwara comes under one of the panch takhts (five eternal thrones) and was the last one to be constructed when the last and tenth guru of Sikhism Guru Gobind Singh decided to settle in Nanded. This is where he completed the holy book Guru Granth Sahib and from there on followers of Sikhism started worshiping the holy book as their Guru.
The distinctive features, the opulent ornaments, and the divine glory set Pune’s legendary Dagdusheth Ganpati apart from any other Ganpati idols in the country. The temple was built by a famous trader and sweet maker, Dagdusheth Halwai, after he lost his son to the plague, and is honourarily named after him. What most people don’t know is there are not one but three idols in this temple. The first one was built in 1893 by Baburao Naik with paper and jaggery glue and installed by Lokmanya Tilak. The second was built by Dagdusheth himself. And the third one was commissioned on Dagdusheth’s 75th anniversary and became the beautiful silver idol that’s permanently displayed at the temple throughout the year. A time that you must visit the temple is during Ganesh Chaturthi, to experience the reverent way the festival is celebrated.
Haji Ali Dargah
One of the most renowned Islamic shrines nestled on an islet off the coast of Worli in southern Mumbai, the Haji Ali Dargah is the mosque and dargah of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. The marble used to build this dargah, known as ‘Makrana’ marble, is the same one used to build the Taj Mahal. Set against the backdrop of the magnificent Arabian Sea, the mosque is a splendid example of Indo-Islamic architecture and appears to be floating on water when the high tide comes in. Owing to its unique and striking location as well as the aura that envelops you as you step inside, the mosque feels almost otherworldly and mesmerises you with its spiritual sanctity.
From travelling in the iconic kaali peeli of Mumbai to experiencing the highest peaks of Sindhudurg, Maharashtra has an array of memorable experiences that will last you a lifetime. Paired with the mouth-watering delicacies of the state like the spicy misal pav, street-favourite pav bhaji, homemade thalipeeth, steaming bhakri, sweet puran poli, and much more, Maharashtra’s offerings will have you vying for more. If you time your visit with the monsoons, you’ll get the opportunity to watch the state flourish into a lush landscape that’ll serve as a permanent postcard for many a stories.