Is the big city life getting to you? Can’t wait to get away from it all? Simply Mumbai has caught the travel bug too this month so give in to temptation before the good weather runs out and take the first road out. Get set and read on as we,Is the big city life getting to you? Can’t wait to get away from it all? Simply Mumbai has caught the travel bug too this month so give in to temptation before the good weather runs out and take the first road out. Get set and read on as we scrounge through popular travel hubs and adventure hotspots as well as carefully hidden secrets to bring you the best weekend getaway options.Vertical limitMahuli: The highest point in the Thane district, Mahuli fort is a favourite with those who like adventurous getaways. Located at a height of 2,815 feet, Mahuli is a trekker’s paradise. It has a strong local trekking and rock-climbing fraternity, and there’s plenty of assistance even if you’re a beginner. Enroute is the Manas Mandir, an important religious place for the Jain community. Once you reach Mahuli, at the foot of the fort is a resplendent Shiva temple.The forest cover that surrounds the fort makes for an exciting and challenging trek from the Shiva temple to the fort. Many of the paramount temples in Maharashtra like Sangameswara, Visveswra, Boleswara and Rameswara, are located in this region. With a backdrop of mountains, lush green forests and the river flowing by, it makes for a breathtaking experience. For the brave-hearted, there are caves to explore in the mountains, but they aren’t very easily accessible. Surrounded by a sanctuary, this fort has no history of who built it. But in the 15th century, it came under the rule of Nijamshahi dynasty. Soon afterwards, it came under the rule of the Marathas and after a long tussle with the Mughals, it was retained under Shivaji’s rule till 1817, when the British took over. Just the idea of the adventure that lies ahead makes this trip one worth taking.advertisement Fact fileGetting there: Take the train to Asangaon and then a cab to Mahuli.Distance: 95 kms from Mumbai.Stay: Harshgiri Lake Resort.Contact: 25113897.Cost: Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 per night.Nature’s trailIgatpuri: Standing tall at 1,900 feet, Igatpuri is nestled in the lap of the majestic Sahyadris. The hill station is perfect for its splendid sunrises and boasts of housing the largest Buddhist Pagoda for Vipassana meditation at Dhammagiri village at the base of the mountain. Full of challenging treks and ample opportunities for rock-climbing, it is close to Mount Kalsubai-the highest peak of the Sahyadri Range. For those who love history, there are the forts that were built on the hill tops during the Satavahana dynasty’s rule. A popular destination for tourists, both domestic and foreign, Igatpuri is full of picnic spots such as Bhatsa River Valley, Camel Valley and Five waterfalls that are bound to reinvigorate your tired bones. The beauty of this hill station is best experienced during the monsoons. For the religious, there’s the Amruteshwar temple that was built 1200 years ago in Hemadpanti style and is best known for its elaborate design. Fact fileGetting there: Take the NH3.Distance: 140 kms.Stay: Manas Lifestyle Resort.Contact: 9833941515.Cost: RS 3,500 onward per night.Ride the tideKarjat: If you want to trek, hike, climb mountains, go river rafting or just have a quiet picnic with your family, Karjat is the place to go to. An hour and a half’s drive from Mumbai, Karjat prides itself as the land of farmhouses. With the longest chain of farmhouses in the country, it is fast developing into a popular weekend hotspot in the state of Maharashtra. With the Ulhas valley that has the Ulhas River flowing through it, white water rafting is a favourite sport here. The historical port of Bhor Ghat is what used to connect the trade routes on the Konkan coast. Then there are the Buddhist Kondana caves that give you a sneak peak into the lives of the ancient Buddhists through their intricate sculptures and the Kotligad fort, a conical structure in the Matheran ranges, a vantage point that leaves you with a breathtaking view of the foothills.Fact fileGetting there: Take the Eastern Express Highway.Distance: 91 kms.Stay: Mohili Meadows Resort.Contact: 28625858.Cost: Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,500 per night.Back in timeMatheran: Get away for a whiff of clean air with no honking cars or traffic lights at Matheran. The state’s only hill station which prohibits the entry of vehicles, it’s all about enjoying nature’s vast beauties here. With mist-soaked valleys and a grandiose landscape stretching out as far as the eye can see, explore Matheran on horseback or simply walk around. The highlight here is the 100 year old toy train that crawls through the hills ferrying passengers from the base to the 803 meter high hill station. What’s charming about Matheran, which was discovered by Sir Mallet in 1860, is that despite modern amenities and hotels, the holiday spot still retains its colonial aura. While here, enjoy the local treats like coal roasted maize or freshly churned candy floss. Another relic is the 100 year old Lords Hotel known for its grand colonial architecture. Take a moment by the placid Charlotte Lake, watch the sunrise at Panorama Point or trek up to the One Tree Hill.-Aditi PaiadvertisementFact fileGetting there: Take the train to Neral and change to the toy train to Matheran.Distance: 120 Km.Stay: Lord’s Central Hotel.Call: 02148-230228.Cost: Rs 4,500 per night.Eco cool Hide-Out: If you’re looking for tranquility and want to escape the maddening crowd of the metropolis, then look no further. Head to Hide-Out, an organic farm in a tribal hamlet tucked away in the lap of nature. There’s a plethora of nature-related activities to choose from. You can go camping or try your hand at organic farming. For those who wish to connect with their inner selves, there are spiritual activities such as workshops in yoga, meditation, alternative medicine and holistic healing to help you find yourself. Ecologically viable camping amidst waterfalls and streams where you can dive in and swim or just sit by and have a conversation with a loved one are other tempting options. For the religious, it has the Mahalaxmi temple to offer, the seat of the Worli tribal deity. From simple vegetarian food cooked in earthen pots to eco-shopping, Hide-Out is perfect for the nature-lover. There is an option of visiting other places in the vicinity, such as Jawahar, famous for its cashew orchards and Dahanu, a quiet seaside town with an Iranian heritage. Fact fileGetting there: Take the Eastern Express Highway.Distance: 91 kms.Stay: Mohili Meadows Resort.Contact: 28625858.Cost: Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,500 per night.Fort townMurud-Janjira: A quaint little port town on the west coast, Murud-Janjira is a packaged deal that caters to all kinds of sensibilities. Janjira, derived from the Arabic word Jazeera, meaning an island, was built in the 12th century by the Siddis of Abyssinia. It is the only fort in Maharashtra which was not subjugated, although the British, the Portuguese, the Dutch tried attacking the city several times. Even the great Maratha King Shivaji tried to dominate the fortress more than six times but failed in all his attempts. The 19 rounded bastions that surround the fort look like they rise from the sea. All that is left now are ruins of what was once an invincible city. Three kilometers into the sea from Murud, the fort allows you a glimpse of the grandiose medieval architecture. Murud Janjira is the only place in Maharashtra where one can get the best of the quiet beach along with a visit to historical and religious sites the town is famous for. Apart from the fort, one can visit the Dattatreya temple, Nawab’s palace inside the fort, the Padmadurg fort or simply unwind at the Murud Janjira beach, where you can also indulge in water sports. Accommodation isn’t a problem since there are plenty of options to stay at.advertisement Fact fileGetting there: Take the Mumbai-Goa Highway 17 via Revdanda.Distance: 165 kms.Stay: One can choose from several resorts along the beach.Cost: RS 1,000 onward per night.Flying highKamshet: If your idea of a holiday is soaring high in the skies, then Kamshet is the destination for your next weekend retreat. One hundred kilometres from the city, the area’s windy hill tops are an ideal location for paragliding activities with two popular schools here-Temple Pilots and Fly Nirvana. You can do a beginners’ course, an advanced level programme or simply go for a joyride. They even have special flying workshops for children if you are planning a family outing.With trained pilots and instructors, you know you are in safe hands as you soar. At both centres, you’ll find other entertainment once you are done with flying. At Fly Nirvana’s home stay resort called The Native Place, you often find founder Sanjay Rao playing chef and cooking up a feast for guests. Non-flyers can have their share of fun with nature trails and treks in the surrounding hills, visits to the ancient Bhedsa and Karla caves nearby or occasional inhouse yoga sessions at Fly Nirvana. So, if adventure is what you are looking for this weekend, strap on your gear and enjoy the aerial view of the picturesque Sahyadri hills.-Aditi PaiFact fileGetting there: Take the Mumbai-Pune highway.Distance: 128 km.Stay: The Native Place.Call: 9920120243.Cost: Rs 5,000 onward per night.Natural wonderLonar: Situated in the Buldhana District, the Lonar Crater, which is now a lake, was first discovered in 1823 by British officer, J.E. Alexander. While the dates are still uncertain, this crater, which also happens to be the world’s third largest, is said to have been created by a two million tonne meteorite more than 50,000 years ago. Even though its creation was the outcome of a natural disaster of sorts, its evolution is anything but. The brilliant blue water surrounded by thick green forests makes it one of the most beautiful natural wonders that exist. Whether you like photography, science or just the wilderness, Lonar has plenty to offer. The crater houses hundreds of peafowl, chinkara and gazelles that can be spotted in the shrubbery growing around the lake. There are egrets, moor hens, herons, coots, white-necked storks, lapwings, grey wagtails, grebes, black droungos, green bee-eaters, tailorbirds, magpies and robins as well. There’s also the famous Daitya Sudan temple, which has been carved in a style similar to the Khajurao temples. And that’s not all-if you’re lucky, you’ll even spot some migratory birds stopping by in their journey across the world. Fact fileGetting there: Take the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.Distance: 600 kms.Stay: Government Rest House.Contact: 07260 221602.Cost: RS 900 to Rs 1,100 per night.Nature’s spectacleSilvassa: The capital city of the Union Territory of Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Silvassa is a popular holiday destination for many in the state. From a Roman Catholic Church built by the Portuguese to the Silvassa museum, it’s a perfect family vacation destination. If you like wildlife, there’s the deer park at Dapada and a lion safari at Vasona in store for you. A fun-filled weekend packed with activities is what you’ll take home from Silvassa.There’s boating at Madhuban dam, the lush Dadra Park, the Dudhani lake about 35 kms from Silvassa (which also houses a water sports park), the Vrindavan and the Balaji temples and the Ban Ganga Lake- a location so beautiful that one can get lost in its scenic grandeur. Fact fileGetting there: Train from Borivali station to Vapi.Distance: 170 kms.Stay: khavel Resort.Contact: 0260 2677401.Cost: Rs 6,000 onward per night.View from the topThe Machan: There’s nothing like a quiet secluded tree house in the middle of a forest to make you forget about blaring horns and constantly ringing mobile phones. The Machan offers just that with a secluded tree house set up in Jambulne village in the Western Ghats. Cradled in the branches of a huge tree at the edge of a precipice 45 feet above the ground, the luxurious structure overlooks acres and acres of lush forest land. Climb up to the loft, aptly called the Crow’s Nest and the stunning aerial view from there is bound to take your breath away. For those who want the thrill of camping out, the Machan has also introduced three well-furnished tents atop raised platforms. With little to do here except soak in the natural beauty or explore the village, this is a perfect place to get your much needed dose of peace and tranquility to hide in the trees.-Aditi PaiFact file Getting there: Take the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.Distance: 80 Km.Check out: Koraigad and Tungi forts.Contact: 09594053113; themachan.comCost: Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000 per day for two.