Road trips always make the journey the hero and not the destination. Often, as we zip from one location to another we miss sinking into the entire flavour of the place, we are still jet-lagged for our city when the trip is already done. When you drive, take a train, or trek, you slow down the journey. You let the new city creep up on you, slowly, right before your eyes. And you can drink it in with all your senses. Winter is here, the skies are clear and afternoon sun not as harsh. This is the best time to head out on that long drive. If you live in Mumbai, then heading out of the city is all about finally using the 4th gear, and getting your foot of the clutch!
Here are some of my favourite drives out of Mumbai.
Mumbai to Nasik (Click on the drive heading for the Google Map)
This is one of the best drives not only because of the smooth road, but also thanks to the changing landscape. You go from baobab trees of concrete to relatively open greens with trees lined all the way to the highway and then, before you realise it, the landscape changes. From a denser cover that we are used to outside the cities and towns, if not for farms, it turns into grassy meadows, undulating hills and the landscape announces ‘wine country’ in the most spectacular way. There are no trees or few trees close to the highway and you look far into the distance and see mountains, pastures and herds of cows and sheep grazing. This change in the natural vegetation always amazes me, and I stick to the window to try and notice when exactly it happens.
Mumbai to Bordi
A few months ago my husband and I took off on an impromptu holiday–Bordi it was! We weren’t sure how this road would be but we needn’t have worried. it is a quality road, lined with a sea of green, hills, valleys and tiny streams bubbling down the hills. There are many signboards that invite you to check out heritage forts on the way– one of them being the Vasai fort, to some others whose names i cannot remember! The road from Dahanu to Bordi is by the sea. It doesn’t have the pomp of the ECR (Chennai to Pondicherry) but it has this simple beauty about it that can never be underestimated. You’ll see a typical Konkan coastal scene, with empty beaches and endless stretches of sand, grey skies and that even greyer Arabian Sea.
Pit Stop: Kamat’s comes up a good hour into the highway and that can be quite a long wait if you have a hungry tummy, but their misal pav is really good… If you go on a long weekend beware, the crowds are crazy here. If you don’t know what misal pav is then read about it here.
Mumbai to Goa
This is a notorious highway. It has blind bends, people speeding and a lot of accidents. You can choose to drive down at one stretch and reach Goa in 12 – 14 hours, depending on the traffic. Or take pitstops on the way and break the journey. I have done with thrice, with pit-stops every time. Why? Less strain and you let the experience linger… it’s not one fast dash down to Goa but a slow and leisurely drive with you stopping to smell the roses on the way… Oh and the roses are just some more pristine beaches, lovely sunsets, soft sand .. .. .. fill in those blanks!
I’ve always returned to Mumbai via Kolhapur and that is also a great way to get back, though its mostly an expressway… which tends to be rather sterile in experience. But you also get to drive by the still-lovely Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
Mumbai to Karnala Fort (Panvel)
If you aren’t up to the entire stretch all the way to Goa then get a sampler on this drive. It manages to mix a trek with a drive… the best of both worlds did someone just say?
Mumbai to Alibaug & Kashid
You start off with the Goa route, and then turn away and go towards Alibaug. This might be a longer drive than taking the ferry to Alibaug but it’s a peaceful road. It is almost as if the minute get out of the traffic of Mumbai the road settles down, and the holiday begins. You meander along with gentle turns, smooth tar surfaces and savour your way into Alibaug or rather Kashid (who stays at Alibaug anymore!)
The Mumbai to Malshej Ghat drive is one I have heard a lot about, but not really done this. It’s on my list and I hope to drive down that road very soon! 2015 is the year of long weekends, so make that plan, get a great play-list together and take those wheels for a spin on the next long weekend. You’ll discover more about yourself and the road. It’s calling out to you!
First Published at merrytogoaround.com
All Images: Bhavani