3 Ways to Experience Mumbai and Maharashtra

Devorah Lev-Tov shares her favorite Maharashtra experiences to help you plan your itinerary.


Photo © Devorah Lev-Tov

Maharashtra is India’s third largest state by area, which means there’s a lot for you to discover. From tiger-spotting and temple-hopping, to exploring Buddhist caves, it’s hard not to be amused by this unique region of India.

Day Trips from Mumbai

Pune, about three hours south of Mumbai, is famous for the Aga Khan Palace. It is now a memorial to Gandhi, whose ashes are in the garden.

Other highlights include an 18th century fort, and the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple, which is dedicated to the Hindu god Ganesh.

The Karnala Bird Sanctuary, about an hour from Mumbai, is a popular picnic spot and home to 150 bird species.

Local hill stations make perfect one-day getaways including Matheran, which doesn’t allow cars and has 28 lookout points; Lavasa, which is modeled after the Italian town Portofino; and Igatpuri, which has lush forests and ancient ruins to explore.

Sassoon Docks, Mumbai. Photo credit: Devorah Lev-Tov

Outdoor Adventure

If you’re looking for adventure in Maharashtra, there’s white water rafting in Kolad, Kundalika, and Sarvakut Village; and waterfall repelling at Dabhosa Waterfall, Vihigaon Waterfall, Kondhana Caves, and Sandhan Valley.

You can even go scuba diving in the Arabian Sea at Malvan—the only the place to do so in the state.

There are plenty of incredible spots to go hiking in Maharashtra. Some of the best are trekking at Naneghat Pass, the Vasota Fort Jungle Trek, the Raigad Fort route, and hiking Mt. Kalsubai — the highest peak in the state.

Wildlife safaris can be done at sanctuaries like Sahyadri Tiger Reserve in Chandoli National Park, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary – where the Indian Giant Squirrel can be found.

Cultural and Historic Sites

Maharashtra is home to many different cultures and religions, with ancient shrines, temples, and monuments found all over the state.

The two most famous sites are near each other: 30 Buddhist caves at Ajanta, and more than 100 caves at Ellora. Both locations are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, along with the Elephanta Caves outside of Mumbai.

Ellora Caves

30km northwest from the city of Aurangabad, you’ll find the intricate rock-cut Ellora Caves, dating back to the 6th and 9th century. More than 100 caves were carved from the stone face of the Charanandri hills, and 34 of them are open for public exploration. 

The Ellora caves contain monuments and artwork of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, including the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha Temple.

Ellora Caves. Photo credit: iStock

Ajanta Caves

100km northeast of Ellora Caves, you’ll find the Ajanta Caves, where 30 caverns were cut into cliffs between the 2nd and 7th century for Buddhist temples, shrines, prayer halls and dormitories.

Ajanta Caves. Photo credit: iStock

The Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, known as the Mini Taj, bears a striking resemblance to the famous Taj Mahal and is definitely worth a visit.

The city of Nanded has historical and spiritual significance to the Sikhs, and there is a famous gurdwara (temple), Hazur Sahib Nanded, which houses the remains of the final Sikh guru.

Other famous temples in Maharashtra include Mahakali Mandir and Anchaleshwar Mandir in Chandrapur, Bhimashankar Temple near Pune, Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati in Mumbai, and Trimbakeshwar Temple in the Nashik district.

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