There’s a slight chill in the air and I can just about start calling it winter – which is my favourite time of year. The writer in me is longing for hot chocolate and a blanket or two to cuddle under with my favourite book, but the significant other in my life isn’t fond of these solitary daydreams of mine. Winter is supposed to remind me of romance, isn’t it? But honestly, with all the pollution, muck, grime and this ridiculous fake winter, are any of you feeling romantic?
I began to blame the city for the lack of romance in my soul and as always, one thing led to the other and I began to let my mind wander to the places I have felt like snuggling up to another human being instead of banishing them to a dark corner far away from me.
Surprisingly enough, I thought of Mahableshwar first – no kidding! It’s a cliché, but if I tell you I was there during summer and still wanted to curl up with someone, you’re not going to want to miss it during winter, are you? I don’t know if it was the lack of cellphone reception, the trek right up to Wilson’s point and the marvellous view below, the fact that we found a place to stay up in the hills, away from the market and the tourists, or the lack of Panchgani bound families, its right up there on my list.
Lonavala should sneak into this list somewhere but you know what? It’s not going to. I’ve had a good many romantic outings there and unless your idea of romance means screaming children, construction and Mumbai traffic, it’s not making this list. Malshej Ghat on the other hand, is a great place to get all mushy, if that’s your thing. It’s full of green fields, there’s more waterfalls than you can count and whether your idea of romance is a scenic picnic or a scenic trek – it will get you in the mood.
Of course, then there’s the fact that you don’t really have the time for a full-fledged vacation. But, don’t worry, I’ve found my mush quotient in the city too, through all the moral policing and everything. Kanheri Caves are a good place to start. Exploring old ruins, walking through pretty natural surroundings together and being in the midst of old Buddhist architecture in the caves is enough to set a fire going. The fact that Bombay allows only stolen glances and fleeting hand-holding makes it all that much more exciting sometimes, believe me.
But then, when fleeting glances get old – I always think of Goa. Sure, its overrated as hell, but honestly can you beat a place with beaches, sun, sand, waves and the freedom to give your partner a peck on the cheek without a dirty look thrown your way? Of course, there’s no Calangute and Baga in question here! A relatively empty beach like Vagator is my pick.
Let’s get real though. There’s nothing more romantic than wine. And Nashik has that in abundance. So, if you’ve got time on your hands, have a little extra money to throw away (the one reason it isn’t one of my most frequented haunts) and are craving some time alone with the love of your life, how can you ignore the land of vineyards, verdant green, the Sahyadri hills and temples and forts for the restless couples? When you’ve got wine and the green, green mountains to keep you company, you’re going to rediscover and reignite love without a doubt.
Of course, at the end of all that thinking, I’m still here, but there’s no reason you should be. In fact, the quicker you’re jetting off to one of these locations, the easier it’s going to be to get the most of the winter chill before it sinks into another series of sultry, sunny days. All of these places are within your reach, thanks to more frequent direct flights to Mumbai. They are amazing places and I would recommend anyone visit them for an incredible time.