Places to visit near Pune
Pune is a gorgeous city and there are hordes of places around that lucky Punekars venture to, we have tried to craft an exciting blend of beaches, sanctuaries and adventure for you. Destinations like Mahabaleshwar – Panchgani, Lavasa, Lonavla Khandala, Ganpatipule, Tarkarli, Shrivardhan are either too crowded or need a bit of planning. Staying true to our spirit here’s a glimpse of offbeat weekend getaways that we have stumbled upon on our various road trips across Maharashtra. We hope you travel as far and as much as possible!
An 8 hour drive from Pune, Dandeli is a hidden gem in North Karnataka. Known to be a nature enthusiast’s delight, it enchants adventure lovers and wild life chasers. An array of activities from rafting for beginners on the dark Kali River to going on a safari to Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and Anshi park, if you are lucky you may even spot hornbills and crocodiles. Kayaking, crossing the river on foot on days when the water is not released from the dam or just driving through the deciduous forest where sunlight barely trickles into make your trip everlasting. Don’t expect lavish hotels, unlike other national parks, Dandeli has managed to keep its unsophisticated charm intact. An occasional snake spotting is common so Dandeli is definitely not for the luxury traveller. On one of our return journeys from South Goa, a 128 km drive through the forest with the best roads we have ever driven on, a Republic Day break where the entire drive was laced with the Flame of Forest, our pitstop was at Bison River Resort, on the banks of the river Kali. Dandeli has been on our mind since then, we hope you go soon, come back and complete our unfinished Story.
Where to stay in Dandeli
The two resorts that we had zeroed upon, you may speak to them for night camping and other adventure activities
- Dandeli Chalet
- Bison River Resort
The explorers in us are always on the hunt for waylays. Instances where we have started the day with a destination mapped on GPS, landed someplace else, that else has been way more exciting than the original are frequent. On one such trip to Goa, just before the state border we saw a milepost that read Vengurla and we detour. One of those rare colonial towns established by the Dutch in the 15th century the historic feel is just so obvious. Fret not if history doesn’t beckon you for the deep blue-green waters on the Vengurla beach sure will and make you forget Goa for a while. Travelling is a lot about interacting with locals, fishermen here would be happy to take you on a boat ride down the small creek and you can actually have it all here apart from the shacks and night life, Goa quint-essentials 😉
How to reach Vengurla
- By plane : Nearest Airport Dabolim in Goa
- By Rail : Nearest Railway Station – Kudal or Sawantwadi
- By Road : On NH17 if you are travelling from Pune or Mumbai watch out for the Vengurla milepost after Sawantwadi before Goa border post on your right from approx 25km- 30km
Go to Harnai if you want to get away from the chaos of the city and the maddening crowd. Go there if you want to catch up close view of pod of dolphins, if you want to enjoy sea food, if you want to enjoy sunsets from the room or if you want to enjoy the vast expanse of a beach with not a soul in sight even on a new year weekend. A very doable destination from Pune at a distance of 120 kilometres Harnai is an ideal getaway at throw away prices, at this time of the year the surfs are awesome for water sports at 1/4th of Goa rates.
How to reach Harnai
- Nearest Railway Station – Khed (37 kms), Chiplun (69 kms), Mahad (70 kms)
- Nearest Airport – Pune (212 kms), Mumbai (260 kms), Belgaum (340 kms)
- Distance from Major Cities – Pune (212 kms), Thane (230 kms), Navi Mumbai (235 kms), Kolhapur (240 kms), Mumbai (260 kms)
Where to stay in Harnai
We stayed at the Whistling Palms Beach Resort which is bang on the beach and offers great views of the Arabian Sea. The rooms are clean however a word of caution for the over spicy food that kids had trouble with.
I love this beach because of its accessibility from Pune and an overnight stay is enough to come back rejuvenated from a soak in the Arabian Sea, the water babies need nothing more. Geographically nestled between Alibaug and Kashid which are the more popular and accessible beaches of North Konkan due to Mumbai and Pune proximity. Kihim’s beach is great for relaxation and is far less maddening than its popular siblings.
280 kilometres away from Pune, Velneshwar often gets a step motherly treatment owing to the famous Ganpatipule beach just an hours drive from here. One of such visits to Ganpatipule, and on a wandering spree we fall for another milepost sign that reads Velneshwar MTDC 2 kms. Probably the most strategic location for a government-run MTDC we reach at lunch time and enjoy fish prepared in Malvani style. Perched on a hill the property’s location is breath takingly gorgeous, overlooks the entire curvaceous coast and you can see miles into the horizon. An untainted beach, local food and a centuries old temple quite alike its others siblings in the Konkan stretch completes your experience. Our pick is for the location of the cottages where you can sit for hours looking into the expanse with a can in your hand or/and hands clasped with your soulmate, as the case may be!
Driving 200 kms away, a weekend can certainly be spend at Koyna Wild Life Sanctuary that has dense forests with a lake and slopes of Western Ghats on both sides with Koyna river meandering through the sanctuary. The name Koyna is more relatable to the dam, the largest in Maharashtra and the infamous earthquake that had supposedly occurred due to seismic activity in the reservoir. A place which is again known for adventure activities, is also home to endangered birds.
Punekars love outdoors and the crowd pouring over to Sinhagad or Khadakwala is a testimony to that, come monsoons and every ghat comes alive with seasonal waterfalls cascading down to the roads, Bhor Ghats is an exception that remains green and picturesque over the winter months. What are you waiting for? Pack some sandwiches, chips and cans, take some mats and go camping for a day where you along with your friends or families can go for small hikes away from the city in the lap of nature.
How to reach Bhor
Drive on Nh4 towards Kapurhol crossing. The first landmark to watch out for is the turn to Narayanpur Balaji Temple, drive straight 10-20 metres ahead, a small road goes to the right. One may easily miss this, so keep your eyes fixated for the exit that takes you to Bhor. Expect a narrow road which goes through Bhor Ghat and then a long flat section into Varandha Ghat. If you cross Varandha ghat and get down on the other side, you would touch NH17, the famous Mumbai Goa highway.
Give the crowded Mahabaleshwar a miss and head to Tapola, 25 kilometres away a magnificent lake Shivsagar awaits the traveller. Tapola is the end point and almost the last hamlet where hordes of river camps have mushroomed here to satiate the adventure and close to nature craving of city dwellers. Tapola promotes Agro tourism and these small affordable river camps support the livelihood of locals.
They say we travel because we need to, distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. When we get home, home is still the same, but something in our minds has changed, and THAT my friend changes everything!
Happy Travelling Guys!
*Please note that all distances are approximations and can vary depending on route.