Mumbai is conveniently located in the Western part of India.
Close enough to pop over for a weekend shopping trip to Jaipur, but far enough South to escape the extreme desert climate the likes of Rajasthan and Delhi.
There area few places to explore if you're planning a short break from the city of Mumbai and these five weekend breaks are worthwhile exploring.
1. The first is in the state of Maharashtra. A 45min flight or easy overnight train from Mumbai (7.5 hrs) takes you to the city of Aurangabad. From here you can head out (30km) to the World Heritage site of Ellora. The Ellora cave temples reveal rock cut architecture from over five centuries and of three religions that feature prominently in the history of India - Jain, Hindu and Buddhist. Keep an eye out for the beautiful sculptures from Ramayana and Mahabharata (two famous Hindu epics) on the walls of Kailasanatha temple, the world's largest monolith structure.
2. The second getaway is Matheran, India’s smallest hill station, 90km East from Mumbai and the perfect place to beat the summer heat. Vehicles are not allowed here as it’s been declared an eco-sensitive region. A 1.5 hour train journey from Mumbai takes you to Neral. From there a 20 minutes ride to Dasturi car park, where you can take a horse to drop your at your accommodation. Alternatively, the toy train slowly makes its way 20km up the hill from Neral to Matheran. It takes over two hours to cover the distance, so sit back and relax.
3. An easy 1hr flight or overnight train from Mumbai, Goa is a great weekend break and has a beach to suit every mood. There’s no escaping the ‘Goa effect’, whether you’re a local or a traveler. If its unique charm and laid back atmosphere is not enough to get you hooked, the local King’s beer (available in Goa only) and Goan fish curry will seal the deal.
An alternative Goan experience is exploring the cool lush forests tracts of Goa. Nearly a quarter of the state is under forests. Wildernest, 50km from Panjimis a good starting point www.wildernest-goa.com
4. Another worthwhile beach break, just a short flight from Mumbai (1hr 10 min), is Diu in the state of Gujarat. The charming Diu is an ex Portuguese island which means that you are guaranteed a touch of Lisboa - old Catholic churches and colourful streets. It also comes with white sandy beaches, warm climate and fresh fish. Diu is less buys than Goa, which is part of the appeal.
5. Jaipur is last but not least. The pink city provides a little bit of everything that the state of Rajasthan has to offer. You can go down the historical route and experience the magnificent forts, palaces and other sites that stand as testimony of the state's legacy of a rich cultural heritage. Or you can choose to get lost in Tripolia, Kishanpol, Bapu and Nehru Bazaar, searching for the perfect topaz ring or Durrie carpet. Rajasthan boasts of its splendid handicrafts and in Jaipur, you can find it all. Direct flights 1h35 min from Mumbai.