Raigad is a district in Maharashtra bounded by Mumbai Harbour to the northwest, Thane District to the north, Pune District to the east, Ratnagiri district to the south, and the Arabian Sea to the west. It includes the large natural harbour of Pen-Mandwa, which is immediately south of Mumbai harbour, and forming a single landform with it. The northern part of the district is included in the planned metropolis of Navi Mumbai, and its port, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port. The district includes towns/cities of Panvel, Alibag, Mangaon, Roha, Pen, Khopoli, Kharghar, Taloja, Khalapur, Uran, Patalganga, Rasayani, Nagothane, Poladpur, Karjat and Mahad. The largest city both in area and population is Panvel. The district also includes the isle of Gharapuri or Elephanta, located in Uran which has ancient Hindu and Buddhist caves. The majority of the people in Raigad are Hindus while Muslims forms the second largest religion here. Other religions are Buddhist, Christians. The economy is dependent on agriculture. The winter season is most pleasant, with the temperature dropping at nights, the ideal months to visit being November to January.
History: Formerly called the Kolaba district, the district was renamed after Raigad, the fort that was the former capital of the Maratha leader Shivaji Maharaj, and is located in the interior regions of the district, in dense forests on a west-facing spur of the Western Ghats of Sahyadri range. Kolaba Ports of Ceul, Mahad Chodeganv and Rajpuri in Janjira were probably centres of trade from the earliest historical times (B. C. 225). This is the very heart of Maratha country – Raigad, the capital of Shivaji’s kingdom. It was here that Shivaji built his capital city in the 14th century, and here that he crowned himself Chhatrapati. For six years upto his death, Raigad remained the capital of the Marathas with its broad gates and magnificent monuments. Shivaji’s impregnable capital, the place where he was crowned and where he died.
*(All the above information are from Wikipedia.)
Airport: The nearest commercial airports are Pune International Airport at a distance of 150 km and Mumbai International Airport at a distance of 180 km.
Rail: The Konkan Railway line starts at Roha and passes through Mangaon and Veer. The Central Railway Line of Mumbai to Pune passes through Karjat with Extension Line for Karjat to Khopoli. Panvel Junction is the most important railway station in the district; it is connected to Mumbai (by both the Harbour Line and Main Line of Central Railway), Thane (by Trans-Harbour Line), Roha, Vasai (Western Railway) and Karjat. All trains, ranging from passengers to Rajdhanis stop here. There is a narrow gauge railroad from Neral to Matheran, called the Matheran Hill Railway.
Road: Raigad District is connected to Mumbai by Sion Panvel Expressway. The Mumbai-Pune expressway and NH4 passes through Panvel. NH 17, which starts at Panvel, traverses the whole district. MSRTC runs regular buses connecting various destinations within Maharashtra. Additionally, many private tour operators also run frequent buses from major cities to this place.
Local: Auto rickshaws are available for transportation within the city. Tour operators provide vehicles for hire. The coastal areas also have regular ferry services. The main ports are JNPT, Mandva, Revas, Murud and Shrivardhan.
Raigad Fort: Strategically perched atop a wedge-shaped block of hill, split off from the Western Ghats and inaccessible from three sides. Stories of incredible valour and heroic deeds are etched on every pebble at Raigad. Raigad remained the capital of Marathas under the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Beside the fort the the samadhi of Shivaji is located. For its immense beauty, Raigad remains a hiker’s paradise. The formidable Pratapgad fort with its equestrian statue of shivaji is an interesting excursion. You can also visit Gangasagar Lake or worship at the nearby Jagadishwar Temple or pay your respects to the great Maratha warrior at his Samadhi.
Murud Janjira Fort: Formerly the capital town of the Siddis of Janjira, Murud is today popular for its alluring beach, whispering casuarina, coconut and betel palms and an ancient fort. On a hillock to the north is the shrine of Lord Dattatreya, the three heads representing Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Battered on all four sides by sea waves, its strong walls yet standing intact and 40 feet high even at full tide is the majestic island fortress of the Siddis – Murud-Janjira. Never conquered by an enemy for over 350 years since its construction by the Ahmednagar rulers under the supervision of their regent Malik Ambar in the 15th century, Murud-Janjira is probably the only impregnable fort on the 720 km Maharashtra coastline.
Neither the Portuguese nor the British could subjugate the fort. And the Marathas, despite their repeated attempts failed to subjugate the Siddi power. The palace of the Nawab and the Janjira Caves are also a must for the tourist. Here you shall discover the charms of an island fortress. The beach is clear and spacious, fringed with palm trees. The fortress is 300 years old, an architectural marvel-in fact, once upon a time considered to be impregnable.
Alibaug: Mandwa and Kihim beaches are located in Alibaug. Mandwa is a beautiful, untrodden beach. On a clear day one can enjoy a long, breathtaking view across the bay, up to the Gateway of India. Mandwa village too, has a charm of its own — with its beautiful groves of coconut palms.
Harihareshwar: Harihareshwar is renowned tourist spot in Konkan for its temples and beaches. Moreover, it is said as Devbhumi or Temple Town. Harihareshwar alone have two beaches − one, straight beach about 2.4 km long in front of Harihareshwar Temple, and the other beach is about 2 km in an L shape just in front of MTDC Resort. Harihareshwar is an evergreen place and one may visit it in any season. It is placed in the heart of nature and bounded with Sahyadri hills.
Shrivardhan Beach: Located close to Harihareshwar Beach is this serene long stretch of golden beach.
Diveagar Beach: Located close to Shrivardhan Beach is a good surfing beach a lot of options for water sports.
Religious places: There are many religious places in this district. The most prominent among them are Mahad Ganapati or Varad Vinayak, Kanakeshwar, Birla Ganesh Temple, Ballaleshwar Ganapati and more.
Matheran: Matheran is an undulating hilltop cloaked in shady trees, that sprawls languidly at an altitude of 800 m. The journey involves an adventurous two-hour ascent in a toy train, with food and drink vendors and monkeys jumping on and off as the valley glides by sedately. Alternately, a tough 11 km hike through thick and shady forests or a winding car drive can get you there as well. Matheran cliffs, with incredibly steep drops to the plains below, create stunning viewing points. These panoramic vistas, by day or by night, leave you feeling light headed. On a clear night, you can even see the lights of Mumbai from Hart Point. In fact, all of Matheran is a series of such quixotically named points that are popular if isolated sites for picnics and fireside revelry at night. Charlotte Lake, the Panthers’ Caves and Paymaster Park are other attractions, especially for children.
Elephanta Caves: Across the Mumbai Harbour, lie the seventh-century rock-cut temples of Elephanta. Once known as Gharapuri, or the Fortress City, the caves are now designated as a World Heritage Site and visited by hundreds of tourists both for their art historical and scenic value. The Portuguese renamed this island Elephanta after a large stone elephant found near the shore (the elephant sculpture collapsed in 1814, when the British relocated it to the Victoria Gardens now Mumbai’s zoo, where it still stands). The cave temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva, and there is one main cave with several sculpted panels. By far the most arresting sculpture is of Maheshmurti or the Great Lord Shiva representing the three-headed god as the creator, preserver and destroyer. There are other delicate and unusual panels on the doorways and side walls. Once a year the MTDC arranges a two-day festival of dance and music here.
The other places of interest are Nandgaon, Kashid, Karnala Bird Sanctuary, Mahad and more.
This tour planner is made on the basis of the location of the destinations. One can make changes as per their interest, convenience and accessibility and duration of the trip. Generally the trip to all the places in Raigad district can be done with a base in Mumbai or Pune.
Day 1 and 2: Reach Matheran from Pune or Mumbai, whole day trip and next day return to the starting point.
Day 3 and 4: Harihareshwar and Shrivardhan and Diveagar Beaches can be covered making Harihareshwar the base for stay.
Day 5 and 6: Raigad Fort and the nearby places.
Day 6 to 8: Alibaug, Murud and Janjira along with the nearby places can be visited in three days.
Day 9 and 10: All the other places.
Hotels: Online booking is always preferable for discounts in tariff. Homestays are a very convenient and affordable option in this region along with the excellent opportunity to know the culture, tradition and local cuisine. Hotels in Matheran are Westend Hotel, Hotel Premdeep, Hotel Paramount, Roshan Residency, Royal Hotel and more. Hotels in Harihareshwar, Srivardhan and Diveagar are MTDC Harihareshwar Beach Resort, Shiv Shanti Hotel, Hotel Sea Wind, Cocohut Resort and more. Hotels in Raigad are Raigad MTDC Resort, Kundalika Rafting Camp, Ayush Resort and more. Hotels in Alibaug are Hotel Swaraj, Nisarg Guest House, Radisson Blu, Ruturaj Inn and more.