Maharashtra Travel Guide
Maharashtra, the land of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Empire, which in its peak covered much of the Indian subcontinent. King Shivaji established a Hindavi Swarajya (“self-rule of Hindu people”). Mumbai, the capital city of the state, is India’s largest city and the financial capital of the nation.
Maharashtra is the third largest state in India. Maharashtra has everything for a tourist – It has over 550 forts to visit including over 20 Sea Forts, 720 km of coastline, the incredible vistas of its western ghats that has superb wildlife and camping possibilities. As of May 2004, India has 92 national parks, of which six are located in Maharashtra.There are 4 project tiger areas in Maharashtra. viz Tadoba-Andhari, Melghat, Sahyadri and Pench. No doubt, Maharashtra is the most visited state by foreign tourists in India and 4th most visited state by domestic tourists in 2012.
Best time to Visit
Winter is the best time to visit since summers are hot. But many tourists visit the region throughout the year.
Best places to visit in Maharashtra
Maharashtra Konkan Coastline:
Best places to visit in Konkan Raigad District
Alibaug: It is the headquarter of the Raigad district located 100 km from Mumbai. There are many beaches in Alibag but the best are Varsoli beach and Kihim beach.
Varsoli: It is located on the outskirts of Alibaug. Though Varsoli beach serves as a naval base, tourists can enjoy the white sand and clean water. Moreover, the beach is dotted with numerous coconut and casuarina trees.
Kihim: It is Located 12 km from Alibag, on the Mandwa-Alibag road Kihim is a very beautiful place to stay. It has a long beach which is clean. MTDC has also a resort at Kihim with tents for staying on the beach.
Other places of tourist attraction around Alibaug
Kolaba Fort – It is situated in the sea at a distance of 1–2 km from the Alibaug shores. During low tide one can walk to the fort. This was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and is assumed to be the last one that he built before his death. The fort used to have a sweet water well.
Magnetic Observatory – Established in 1904 by the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism. A written permission from the Panvel office of Indian Institute of Geomagnetism needs to be presented when entering the premises of the Observatory in Alibaug.
Murud – It is situated at a distance of 42 km from Alibaug and has a lovely beach. Kashid beach, 17 km north of town, is even nicer.
Places of tourist attraction near Murud
Kashid Beach – Kashid is located 30 km from Alibag, this drive is scenic and small winding roads pass through beautiful small villages. It is located 135 km from Mumbai on the Alibag-Murud road. Kashid is popular for its white sand, blue seas, green mountains, paddy fields, and rivulets. Kashid has a 3 km stretch of beach tucked in between two rocky hillocks with Casuarina groves all around the seashore. This is best beach in Konkan region. The waves here are unusually high and can be paradise for surfing. The waves can reach a height 5–6 feet even during the non-monsoon months. However it is dangerously high during the monsoons and surfing is not recommending during the months of June to September.
Murud Janjira fort – The fort of Murud-Janjira is an important sea fort in the country. It is situated nearly 2 kms inside the Arabian sea. You have to reach there by a boat. The ride is very fun filled and you will thoroughly enjoy this place. The Janjira fort was built in the 15th century by the rulers of Ahmednadar. This fort is nearly 300 years old but is still strong enough to face the sea waves lashing it. There are some very important historic places inside the fort. There are some very ancient guns in the fort. These guns are named as Kalal Bangadi, Chavari and Landa Kadam and are very famous. There are 2 huge water tanks in the fort surrounded by the sea. The tanks have sweet water in it.
Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary – It is situated near Nandgaon at distance of 20 kms from Murud. You can visit the sanctuary and enjoy the wild and dense forest. There are some interesting spots like the Nandgaon Ganpati temple.
Kude Buddhist Caves – These are Buddhist caves situated about 28 kms away from Murud. These caves are 2000 years old and date back to the 1st century. There are Sanskrit inscriptions in the caves, some have Buddhist stupas while others have basic figurines and carvings.
Diveagar: It is small, laid back and beautiful place located 170 km from Mumbai. It has good homestays that offer home-cooked, delicious meals. The beach is clean and one of the most picturesque. You have to go through a dense cover of belu and betel trees to reach the beach. Starfish are observed here on shore in winters, whereas crabs can be seen in summers.
Shrivardhan: It is located 20 km from Diveagar but you will find better stay options in Diveagar and Harihareshwar. You can also visit the nice and secluded Kondivli beach (4 km from Shrivardhan) on your way to Harihareshwar.
Harihareshwar: Harihareshwar is a town in Raigad district located 210 km from Mumbai. It is surrounded by four hills named Harihareshwar, Harshinachal, Bramhadri and Pushpadri. The river Savitri enters the Arabian Sea from the town of Harihareshwar. Towards the north of the town is the temple of Lord Shiva. Hence, Harihareshwar is often referred to as Dev-ghar or “house of God”. MTDC Resort near the beach makes the stay Harihareshwar really special. Also, the village has friendly people.
Harihareshwar is a popular beach resort with two beaches, one to the north and the other to the south of the temple. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has a resort on the south beach.
Best places to visit in Konkan Ratnagiri District:
Velas: Velas is a tranquil village located 220 km from Mumbai. Warm people and breath taking landscapes, Velas offers all this and more to its tourists. It is famous for the Olive Ridely turtle festival held in March-April. The Olive Ridely turtle, an endangered species that lays eggs at multiple places along the Maharashtra coastline but most of the actions is concentrated at Velas in Ratnagiri district.
Karde Beach, Dapoli: This beach stay’ as the resorts lining Karde Beach are a little removed from the nearby villages and crowds. We watched Dolphins in the morning, snacked on Bhelpuris while watching sunsets and ate all our meals at the resort where food was absolutely divine! It’s a great honeymoon spot. Dapoli is considered a Hill Station and the climate is pleasant. One can visit nearby places of Suvarnadurga fort and Panhalekaji caves. The Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth at Dapoli is also worth your visit, nature lovers will surely like it.
Suvarnadurg Fort: Located 17 km from Dapoli at Harne, the Suvarnadurg fort consists of two forts, kanakdurga the land fort and Suvarnadurga the sea fort. The forts were built by Adilshah and later captured and fortified by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1660. Earlier there was a tunnel connecting both the forts but now only way to go to Suvarnadurga is through a boat. However currently there is no regular boat service to the fort and one has to arrange for the ferry from the local fishermen.
Unhavare – Hot Water Springs: These are natural hot water springs at Unhavare Village, 20 km from Dapoli (near Panhalekaji caves). It is a small village with the springs as its only attraction and lots of people from surrounding areas come here regularly to bathe in the Hot Sulphur water springs. Separate shelters are made for Men and Women to take a dip in the Rejuvenating Hot water. A bath in the water is said to cure skin ailments. There are no charges for taking a bath.
Panhalekaji Caves: The “Leni” or caves at Panhalekaji are located on Dapoli – Dabhol road. You can drive up to the caves and the place is situated deep in the valley near the confluence of ‘Kotjai’ and ‘Dhakti’ rivers. You can watch many birds and reptiles in the surrounding jungle and river. There are 29 caves and many sculptures around the area and the whole area is very beautiful. The carvings in these caves are from many periods from the 3rd century to the 14th century.
Places of tourist attraction near Ratnagiri:
Ratnadurga and Bhagwati Forts
The Ratnadurga and Bhagwati forts were built during the Bijapur dynasty and captured by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj from the Adilshah and fortified by him in 1670. The forts are on a hill and its three sides are sea facing. The forts are spread in an area of 120 Acres. Both the forts are worth seeing and the Bhagwati fort also has a temple of Bhagwati Devi.
Shri Kshetra Marleshwar is a ‘Swayambhu’ Temple of Shankar and is situated among high mountains and cliffs. The whole area is very beautiful and lots of people come here. The Marleshwar temple is in a natural cave and further down from the cave there is a beautiful waterfall known as ‘Dhareshwar’. The water drops down from a height of 200 feet and the view is very beautiful. The whole area is covered with dense forest and is a favorite spot of tourists. Marleshwar is 11 Kms. from Angavali village near Sangameshwar and 21 Kms. from Devrukh.
Bhatye beach – The Bhatye beach is a clean and beautiful beach. The beach is less crowded and secluded as it is a little away from the main city. At one end of the beach you can also visit the temple of ‘Zhari Vinayak’.
Located at 25 Kms. from Ratnagiri after Pawas, Purnagad fort is spread in an area of 22 acres. The fort is located at the mouth of Muchikund river creek. The fort is in good condition and you can find some cannons in the fort. A walk along the fort will give you a good view of the surrounding area and you will find lots of squirrels running around.
Guhagar: Guhagar located 42 km from Chiplun is a typical Konkani town with a beautiful clean beach where a lot of people come in the evenings to see the sunset.
Ganpatipule: Most famous for its Ashta Vinayak site, Ganpatipule is famous for the ‘Swayambhu’ Ganpati temple and the whole hill is considered as a ganpati. The beach at Ganpatipule stretches for 12 km and is a very beautiful white sand beach. Caution should be taken before entering the sea as lot of people die every year because of drowning. The MTDC has a very good resort near the beach. Sangameshwar located near Ganpatipule has an ancient Lord Shiv temple on the confluence of Shastri and Alaknanda rivers. The temple is beautiful and constructed in the old Hemadpanthi style, the carvings in the temple are very beautiful. Also visit the nearby Prachin Konkan Museum which depicts traditional konkan way of life.
Best places to visit in Konkan Sindhudurg District:
Malvan: Malvan is a small city with beautiful beaches and nice places to stay. Malvan is famous for its food and its nearby Sindhudurg fort. The sunset at the Malvan beach is spectacular with Sindhudurg fort in the background and also there is a big fish market in the evening with auctions of fresh fish taking place right on the beach.
Sindhudurg Fort: One of the best forts in Maharashtra, the Sindhudurg fort is an excellent example of the foresight of the great Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He built this fort in 1664 on ‘Kurte’ islands. One has to take a boat ride to visit the fort which will cost Rs. 20 – 30. The fort has 52 ‘Buruzs’ with an average height of 30 meters. The fort has three sweet water wells. A visit to the fort is a must for any tourist.
Vijaydurga – Devgad: Devgad is world famous for its delicious Alphanso mangoes, and this becomes quiet evident as soon as you approach Devgad. One can see Mango plantations everywhere. Located near Devgad, the Vijaydurg fort was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on the mouth of Vaghotane creek. The fort is on a strip of land going into the sea and is spread in an area of six hectares. The fort has 27 ‘Buruzs’ and is still in a very good condition.
Tarkarli: Tarkarli is one of the best white sand beaches along the Konkan coast located at 7 km from Malvan. The beach is situated at the mouth of Karli river. MTDC has very good resort with tents at Tarkarli.
Kunkeshwar: It is located 15 km from Devgad, and has an ancient Lord Shiva temple on the beach built in the 10th century. There are six Deepmals and huge Nandi in front of the temple.
Located at 20 kms from Devgad, the Mithbav beach is a very beautiful white sand beach. the waters are safe for swimming and the whole beach is very picturesque. This is one of the lesser known but beautiful beaches.
Amboli is a quiet hill station situated near Sawantwadi. Amboli is situated at a height of 690 meters from sea level and slowly picking up as favorite tourist destination. The whole area is very beautiful with green valleys and mountains covered with dense forests. Tourists visit Amboli in rainy season because whole area is dotted with numerous waterfalls flowing down in the valleys.
Vengurla – Mochemad
Located at 25 Kms. from Savantwadi, Vengurla is a beautiful coastal town with a excellent beach and a port. The Dutch and Portuguese conducted trade activities on a large scale through the Vengurla port. The beach near the port has some very beautiful spots where you can relax on big boulders and look at the ships and boats in the sea. The Mochemad Village at a distance of 10 km from vengurla also has a beautiful beach. One can also visit Terekhol fort and Bhogwe beach.
Visiting undiscovered places or going to offbeat locations is fun. But it also comes with its minor problems of transportation. Most of the towns are not connected directly; so you need to take multiple modes of transport to reach them. I hope MTDC and Maharashtra Government does more to promote the region and make it more accessible in the coming years.
Local Transport in Raigad & Ratnagiri District:
Note: Duggi, Dum-Dum, 6 Seater, Minidor all refer to the same large sized autorickshaws.
Alibag to Murud:
-Autorickshaw to Murud (Rs. 500)
Murud to Harihareshwar:
-Autorickshaw from Murud to Agardanda (Rs. 100) or Rajpuri (Rs. 50)
-Launch/Ferry (Rs. 11) to Dighi – a 20 minutes ride
-Duggi from Dighi to Borli (Rs. 12)
-Duggi from Borli to Srivardhan (Rs. 16)
-Duggi from Srivardhan to Harihareshwar (Rs. 16)
Use Duggis for Day Trips to Srivardhan and Harihareshwar.
Harihareshwar – Srivardhan – Diveagar – Srivardhan – Harihareshwar
Alternatively use Diveagar as your base and cover Harihareshwar as a day trip. Diveagar has a lot more mid to high range stay options than Harihareshwar.
Harihareshwar to Murud (Dapoli):
-Duggi from Harihareshwar to Bagmand (Rs. 12)
-Ferry from Baghmund to Bangot AKA Veshvi (Rs. 6)
-Duggi Bangot to Devahare (Rs. 20)
-ST Bus Devahare to Mandangadh (Rs. 10)
-ST Bus from Mandangadh to Dapoli (Rs. 27)
-Autorickshaw from Dapoli to Murud (Rs. 150 incl hotel hunting)
Murud (Dapoli) to Guhagar:
-Autorickshaw from Murud to Dapoli 6 Seater/Tracker stop (Rs. 180)
-Tracker (super sized Jeeps) from Dapoli to Dhabol (Rs. 20)
-Ferry from Dhabol to Verdul (Rs. 5)
-Duggi from Verdul to Guhagar (Rs. 15)
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