Malshej Ghat has emerged as the most popular tourist attraction in the state this monsoon, with government resorts packed with bookings for the next two months. Bhandardhara is a close second, with Matheran and Karla also avidly sought after by tourists, mainly from Pune, Mumbai and Nashik.
State Director of Tourism Satish Soni told The Indian Express that while the occupancy rate at the 22 resorts run by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is almost 60 per cent, those at Malshej, Bhandardhara, Matheran, Karla, Chikaldhara and Tadoba are at 90 per cent for the next two months.
MTDC officials said the rush this year could be attributed to the abundant rain, thanks to which these weekend getaways are likely to remain tourist hotspots till September.
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Malshej Ghat is located 700 metres above sea level amid the ranges of Western Ghats, and is equidistant from Mumbai and Pune. Approximately 154 km north-west of Pune, the rugged landscape is thickly forested and laced with several rivers. The hills come alive with cascading waterfalls during the monsoon.
Despite the recent landslide that blocked the road to Malshej Ghat, the rush of tourists is unabated. “A massive landslide had toppled a truck into the valley and we have urged visitors to be careful. The road has been opened up just a day before and highway police are ensuring smooth travel for visitors,” Soni said.
In the Vidarbha region, Chikaldhara and Tadoba have had high occupancy rates and bookings are full for the next two months, Soni said. While Tarkarli and Ganpatipule MTDC resorts have a high occupancy rate throughout the year, visitors prefer to visit these places after September, as the Konkan region witnesses very heavy rain, he explained.
The hill station of Mahabaleshwar, too, has its share of tourist rush, but Malshej has emerged the hottest tourist destination this monsoon.
After online bookings showed a high occupancy rate, MTDC officials said they started getting personal calls for accommodation. “We have now decided to introduce package tours from August at affordable rates,” Soni said.
A one-day Mumbai-Malshej-Mumbai tour has been arranged for Rs 900. Other tours, such as Mumbai-Bhandardhara- Mumbai and Mumbai-Shirdi-Bhandardhara, are also being offered. “We anticipate more rush with long weekends coming up during Independence Day and Ganesh Chaturthi,” Soni said.