Places to visit near Mumbai – The state of Maharashtra, which is a part of the incredible landscapes of South Asia, exhibits traces of its varied heritage and culture. One might observe little evidence of human intervention while travelling, particularly along the Western Ghat, where every turn reveals layers upon layers of historically significant natural beauty.

Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, has historically served as a hub for the nation’s trade and commerce and was also significant during the colonial era. Mumbai has been the target of conquests due to its geographic location and accessibility to the main sea routes, and these conquests have left behind traces that can still be seen in the city’s and its nearby regions’ architecture today.

Much has been written, documented, and researched about Mumbai’s prominent architectural marvels and its architectural style throughout history and the present age. The article makes an effort to concentrate more on the lesser-known architectural attractions that can be accessed while travelling near Mumbai.

An architect’s professional journey should include exploration and observation. While travelling, an architect should look for different architectural styles in the form of contemporary built spaces, historically significant structures, naturally occurring and designed landscapes, or public spaces. Even a single unit with some thought put into it should be explored.

Kondana Caves | Places to Visit near Mumbai

The Kondana Caves are a cluster of sixteen Buddhist caves in the south of Karjat Municipality of Raigad district. The Kondana caves, which previously housed Buddhist monks and were home to Buddhist architectural artifacts like chaitya, vihara, and stupas, are a classic illustration of the rock-cut architecture from the first century BC.

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Kothaligad (Peth) Fort _ ©KevinStandage

Kanheri Caves

The Kanheri Caves are a group of caves and rock-cut monuments located in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park’s forests on the former island of Salsette in the western suburbs of Mumbai. From the first through the ninth century CE, Buddhist relief carvings, paintings, and sculptures can be found here.

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Kanheri Caves’ prayer hall_© AKS.9955/wikimedia

Lohagad Fort | Places to Visit near Mumbai

Maharashtra can be described as a land of hill forts and kingdoms. Lohagad, which is nearby to the hill station of Lonavala, is one such hill fort. This fort from the 18th century, which predates the British era, was largely under Marathas’ command when they ruled the region.

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Aerial View of Lohagad Fort_ © RashmiParab/wikimedia

Fort Bassein / Vasai Fort 

Fort Bassein, a Portuguese fort from the early 16th century next to Vasai-Virar, is surrounded by the sea on three sides. Bassein Fort Vasai, a whole city with churches, hospitals, and office buildings, served as the Portuguese administrative center while they ruled the region. Even though Vasai Fort is mostly in ruins, many of its facades and arches have been preserved. The complex’s three churches may all be easily identified. Their style is evocative of Portuguese churches from the 17th century.

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A surviving structure that was once part of Fort Bassein_ ©travelogueofawanderlust
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A Church within Fort Bassein_ ©Darren DSouza 3D/wikimedia

Jaivilas Palace | Places to Visit near Mumbai

The Jaivilas palace, built by Raja Yashwant Rao Mukne around the years 1940–1941 and situated in the Jawhar city in the Palghar region, served as the royal residence of the Mukne family kings. The structure is an amazing work of Syenite stone. Beautiful pink stones make up the Raj Bari palace, a blend of Indian and Western architecture.

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Majestic front façade of Jaivilas Palace in Jawhar_ © StarDust H/wikimedia

Church of our Lady of Grace, Papdy 

After St. Thomas, Sandor, Our Lady of Grace was established in South Bassein (Vasai), a village beyond the fort. This parish probably began to exist in or about 1574. The church’s structure is made up of a spacious, one-story hall with a central nave leading to the elevated altar. With its arched windows, belfry, and rose window crowned with the Cross, the ornate front facade is impressive.

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Decorative front facade with arched openings_ © Mahratta

Pushkarani (Kund)

During the Peshwa dynasty, Pushkarani, a square-shaped water tank (Kund) with stepped brick retaining walls, was built in Kalyan. The tank, which is entirely constructed of bricks, may be the only remaining Kund in the Konkan region, and the only architectural design for water storage that is still in use today.

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Pushkarani (Kund) in Kalyan_ © MMR-HCS & MMR-EIS

Juma Masjid | Places to Visit near Mumbai

The Juma Masjid, the largest and oldest mosque in Mumbai, was constructed on a water body and later expanded in 1837 to become one of the first two-story mosques in the nation. The city’s busiest business junction is where you’ll find Juma Masjid. Most tourists who visit Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar or Crawford Market are only vaguely aware of the astonishing vitality of the building’s architecture.

Juma Masjid_ ©Davide B
Juma Masjid_ ©Davide B

Afghan Church – A War Memorial

The Afghan Church is in Colaba’s Navy Nagar. The Church of St. John the Evangelist is a church that is Anglican. The British constructed this church to commemorate the victims of the First Afghan War, giving the sense of the grimness of a war memorial. The church was started on December 4, 1847, by Sir George Russell Clerk, and it was completed on June 10, 1865.

Afghan Church – A War Memorial_ ©Rangan Datta Wiki
Afghan Church – A War Memorial_ ©Rangan Datta Wiki
Afghan Church – Stained Glass Window_ ©Ronakshah1990
Afghan Church – Stained Glass Window_ ©Ronakshah1990

Craigie Burn | Places to Visit near Mumbai

CraigieBurn, formerly known as Roper’s Bungalow, was constructed somewhere between 1854 and 1900 in Matheran, on the Western Ghats of Maharashtra’s Raigad district. With access to a private walkway and a view of a valley to the northwest, the site enjoys a prime location. To create discrete outdoor areas, the big main building is united with the slightly separate dining room, kitchen block, and servants’ quarters. Opening arches have Gothic-style decorative tracery. In the 2008 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards, the structure also got an Honorable Mention.

Heritage Restoration of Matheran's century-old residence, Craigie Burn _ Vikas Dilawari Architects
Heritage Restoration of Matheran’s century-old residence, Craigie Burn _ Vikas Dilawari Architects
Historic Railway Line in Matheran_ © Manish Soni/Flickr
Historic Railway Line in Matheran_ © Manish Soni/Flickr
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Sadiq Zafar is a practicing architect, urban policy researcher, and planner who previously worked for a national research institute and held the position of assistant professor at the Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi. He researched urban poor housing neighborhoods while working as a sustainability planner in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh.