While this year wasn’t ideal for your travel plans, 2021 is just around the corner. We have selected the best of the long weekend holidays of the coming year and curated a list of destinations at driving distances from MumbaiBy Satarupa Paul

2021 Holiday Calendar In India

1. JANUARY

New Year’s Day
January 1 to January 3 (Friday to Sunday)

 

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Where to go? Nashik, Maharashtra

With at least 30 functional wineries fanning out in all directions, many of which host vineyard tours and feature tasting rooms, luxurious stays and restaurants, Nashik has become the hotspot for wine tourism in India in recent years. While the Sula Vineyards is the country’s largest and most popular winery, other boutique vineyards here include the French-style Vallonne Vineyards, the family-run York Winery, the premium Grover Zampa vineyards and the newer entrant called Soma Vine Village. The harvesting months of January to March make for the best time to visit Nashik to enjoy the fun wine stomping activity. Besides, the green landscape with its fresh lakes and winding rivers make for an idyllic setting for some R&R to begin the year with.

Distance from Mumbai: 167 kilometres

Duration: Approximately three-and-a-half hours

Where to take a pitstop?: Murali Miltry Hotel, Nagatihalli

Where to stay?: Beyond by Sula

What to do?: Try white water rafting on the Vaitarna River; shop at Saraf Bazaar; and visit the Trimbakeshwar Temple—one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India—on the banks of the Godavari river.

2. FEBRUARY

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti
February 19 to February 21 (Friday to Sunday)

 

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Where to go? Daman, Daman and Diu

An erstwhile Portuguese colony, the quaint town of Daman in the union territory of Daman and Diu on the west coast, makes for a great offbeat escape from Mumbai. Its scenic, uncrowded beaches, such as Jampore Beach and Devka Beach, make for the best unwinding spots with splendid views during sunset. The twin forts of Moti Daman and Nani Daman, located on opposite ends of town, feature colonial-style designs with massive walls and bastions. The latter also boasts an impressive statue of St Jerome at its entrance as well as the Church of Our Lady of Sea. Built in 1603, the Cathedral of Bom Jesus with its beautiful altar-piece and the intricately carved doorway is another must-visit, as are the historic ruins of the Dominican Monastery.

Distance from Mumbai: 172 kilometres

Duration: Approximately three-and-a-half hours

Where to take a pitstop?: Hotel New Jalaram Kathiyawadi, Ghol

Where to stay?: The Deltin

What to do?: Visit the Daman Lighthouse for fantastic views of the Arabian Sea; shop for leather items, bamboo mats and baskets in the local markets.

3. MARCH

Holi
March 27 to March 29 (Saturday to Monday)

 

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Where to go? Mulshi, Maharashtra

An eco-tourism hotspot, Mulshi has also been attracting wellness enthusiasts off late, with a number of upscale spa resorts that have come up here. The centre of attraction is the Mulshi Dam and lake that presents a resplendent picture of natural beauty. A picnic by the lakeside is highly recommended, so is a drive up to Tamhini Ghat—a local landmark that faces a steep cliff on one side and a deep valley on the other. Close by, the century-old temple of Vanjai Mata makes for an interesting visit. Besides immersing yourself in the natural splendour of Mulshi, you can also opt to get onto a personalised wellness programme at the resorts here, which will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Distance from Mumbai: 169 kilometres

Duration: Approximately three-and-a-half hours

Where to take a pitstop?: Ekvira Dhaba, Savroli

Where to stay?: Atmantan Wellness Retreat

What to do?: Go for an organised trek and a night of camping with bonfire dinners at one of the many hiking spots around.

4. APRIL

Good Friday and Easter Sunday
April 2 to April 4 (Friday to Sunday)

 

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Where to go? Silvassa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Located along the Daman Ganga river in Western India, Silvassa is a former Portuguese colony, now the capital of the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. While it once comprised of 72 tribal villages, today Silvassa is considered the home of the Warli tribe, widely known for their paintings. The Tribal Cultural Museum gives an insight into their lives, whereas Roman Catholic churches such as Our Lady of Piety stand testimony to the colonial influence. Silvassa also has a number of beautiful gardens, such as the Vanganga Lake Garden where over 40 Bollywood film scenes have been shot, Island Garden with quaint wooden bridges and thatched huts, and the Hirwa Van Garden with waterfalls and manicured flowerbeds.

Distance from Mumbai: 168 kilometres

Duration: Approximately four hours

Where to take a pitstop?: Hotel Samrat, Manor

Where to stay?: Pluz Resort

What to do?: Visit the Vasona Lion Safari Park to see the Asiatic Lion in its natural habitat, and shop for products adorned with Warli paintings from local cooperative shops.

5. MAY

Eid Ul Fitr
May 13 to May 16 (Thursday to Sunday; take a leave on Friday)

 

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Where to go? Ratnagiri, Maharashtra

A port town overlooking the Arabian Sea in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, Ratnagiri is perhaps best known for its Alphonso mangoes. Besides the sweet juicy delight, the town is also historically important as it was the administrative capital under the Bijapur rule, the birthplace of freedom fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and where British exiled the King of Burma from Mandalay. Today, the Ratnadurg and Jaigad forts, the Tilak Museum and the Thebaw Palace stand as testaments to those events, respectively. Ratnagiri also has long stretches of pristine beaches, including the famous Ganpatipule beach, Guhagar beach, Bhatye beach and Kunkeshwar beach.

Distance from Mumbai: 326 kilometres

Duration: Approximately eight hours

Where to take a pitstop?: Hotel Prabhakar, Kolad; Hotel Samarthya, Chiplun

Where to stay?: Blue Ocean Resort and Spa

What to do?: Buy a box or two of the season’s best Alphonso mangoes, as well as Ratnagiri cashews; try local Konkani fish preparations and fruit-based dishes like the jackfruit sandan cake, kokam sharbat, amba panha, etc.

6. JULY

Eid al-Adha
July 17 to July 20 (Saturday to Tuesday; take a leave on Monday)

Where to go? Panchgani, Maharashtra

 

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Once a summer retreat for British officials, today Panchgani is a serene hill station nestling amid five hills of the Sahyadri mountain ranges of the Western Ghats. These hills are topped off with a volcanic plateau—the second-highest in Asia after the Tibet Plateau. Known as Table Land, it offers panoramic views of Panchgani and the surrounding thick forests. Several other viewpoints, such as Parsi Point, Sydney Point, Wilson Point and Kate’s Point offer diverse scenic views. The Krishna River flows through the valley, on the banks of which is Wai, a town with over 100 temples to explore. The Rajpuri caves make for an exciting discovery, whereas the popular hill town of Mahabaleswar is just 30 minutes away.

Distance from Mumbai: 244 kilometres

Duration: Approximately four-and-a-half hours

Where to take a pitstop?: McDonald’s, Talegaon Dabhade

Where to stay?: Otonia by Vista Rooms

What to do?: Shop for strawberries, jams and honey that are locally grown; visit Roach and Sons, the oldest bakery here dating to 1901.

7. AUGUST

Muharram
August 19 to August 22 (Thursday to Sunday; take a leave on Friday)

 

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Where to go? Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra

Every monsoon, Instagrammers are treated to enchanting photos of a mountain pass in the Sahyadris, glistening green from the rains, with brimming waterfalls tumbling down the sides or crashing by a winding road. That’s Malshej Ghat for you—one of the best places to drive to during the monsoon. The misty landscape here is dotted with blissful villages, ancient forts and temples, many of which are accessible via trekking trails. One of the most famous monsoon treks is that to the mystical 6th century Harishchadragad Fort, perched atop a hill with temple caves and a serene lake nearby. The soaring peak of Taramanchi with astounding views of the Naneghat range and neighbouring forts, the primaeval fortress of Shivneri, and the hill-fort of Ajoba are other popular treks here.

Distance from Mumbai: 126 kilometres

Duration: Approximately three hours

Where to take a pitstop?: Hotel Rajyog Residency, Murbad

Where to stay?: Saj By The Lake

What to do?: Go birdwatching at the five-kilometre long Pimpalgaon Joga Dam, built over the Pushpawati River. It’s a haven for pink flamingoes, alpine swifts, whistling thrush, and purple moorhen, among others.

8. SEPTEMBER

Ganesh Chaturthi
September 10 to September 12 (Friday to Sunday)

 

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Where to go? Lavasa, Maharashtra

Fashioned after the Italian town of Portofino, Lavasa is India’s first privately planned city and newest hill station. Spread across seven hills in the Mose valley of the Western Ghats near Pune, the city covers 65 kilometres of a lakefront area that gives it its unique Mediterranean vibe and Italian Riviera charm. You can hire bicycles or couple bikes and pedal around town, go boating or jet skiing on the lake, or simply take a stroll along the promenade. The colourful buildings lining the lakefront promenade—which also house cafes and restaurants serving a range of cuisines—make for Insta-worthy photos. Nearby, Tikona Fort and Ghangad Fort are great for day-time explorations.

Distance from Mumbai: 187 kilometres

Duration: Approximately four hours

Where to take a pitstop?: Kamats Hotel, Lonavla

Where to stay?: Ekaant The Retreat

What to do?: Go for a leisurely picnic, visit an organic farm, hike to Devkund waterfall, and visit the factory and showroom of Bamboosa that engages local craftsmen in making bamboo products.

9. OCTOBER

Dussehra
October 15 to October 17 (Friday to Sunday)

 

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Where to go? Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra

Created primarily to protect the natural habitat of the Indian Giant Squirrel or Malabar Giant Squirrel, the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary—one of the 12 biodiversity hotspots of the world—covers an area of 131 square kilometres. Besides a large diversity of endemic and specialised flora and fauna, the sanctuary also boasts panthers, hyenas, jackals, wild boar, sambar, barking deer and other animals. Nine tribal villages, too, call the sanctuary home and aid in its protection and biodiversity. The area is also an important pilgrimage, courtesy the presence of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India—the Bhimashankar Temple built in the Nagara style of architecture.

Distance from Mumbai: 196 kilometres

Duration: Approximately four-and-a-half hours

Where to take a pitstop?: Kamat The Food People, Khandala

Where to stay?: Jamrung Hillside Camping

What to do?: Go on a jungle safari; climb the 250-odd steps to the Bhimashankar Temple; enjoy a bonfire dinner out in nature.

10. NOVEMBER

Diwali
November 4 to November 7 (Thursday to Sunday)

 

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Where to go? Aurangabad, Maharashtra

A historic city that once served as the capital of the Deccan under Mughal rule, Aurangabad is a prominent tourism hotspot known for its monuments and caves. A major production centre for cotton textile and artistic silk fabrics, the city once boasted a total of 52 gates, each with its own local history, giving it the title—City of Gates. The most famous monument here is the 17th-century marble shrine called Bibi ka Maqbara, fashioned after the Taj Mahal. The Shivaji Maharaj Museum dedicated to Maratha king Shivaji, the ancient Aurangabad Caves comprising of rock-cut Buddhist shrines, and the battlements surrounding the medieval Daulatabad Fort are other interesting places to visit.

Distance from Mumbai: 369 kilometres

Duration: Approximately seven hours

Where to take a pitstop?: Ocean Spice, Talegaon Dabhade; Street Court Pure Veg Restaurant and Ahmednagar.

Where to stay?: Welcomhotel Rama International

What to do?: Take a day trip to the famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Ajanta and Ellora caves, about three hours away.

11. DECEMBER

Christmas
December 24 to December 26 (Friday to Sunday)

 

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Where to go? Shilimb, Maharashtra

One of the prime wellness destinations at driving distances from both Mumbai and Pune, Shilimb makes for the perfect spa-cation to round up another year. A quaint village and a sanctuary of serenity amid the mighty Sahyadris, it has a number of beautiful lakes, dams, forts and forests in its vicinity that make for scenic explorations. However, if a complete pampering of body and soul is what you’re looking for, then a spa retreat here is the way to go. Wellness programmes encompassing yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic therapies are complemented by health and nutrition focusing on fresh, seasonal produce. Pottery, cooking classes, nature hikes and conservation walks are other activities to keep you occupied.

Distance from Mumbai: 110 kilometres

Duration: Approximately three hours

Where to take a pitstop?: Food Mall, Dahivati Tarf Boreti

Where to stay?: Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa

What to do?: Visit the picturesque Pawna Lake; trek to the ancient Tikona Fort perched atop a hill with gorgeous lake and mountain views, and hike to the ancient Karla caves that date back over 2,000 years.

Related: #TnlRoadTrips: 6 Fascinating Road Trips From Mumbai For History Lovers