Amboli is a hill station in south Maharashtra, India. At an altitude of 690 meters it is the last hill station before the coastal highlands of Goa and a relatively unexplored one. Amboli lies in the Sahayadri Hills of Western India, one of the world’s “Eco Hot-Spots” and it therefore abounds in a variety of fairly unique flora and fauna. However, as in the other parts of the Sahaydri Hills, denudation of the forest cover and unregulated government assisted “development” (read “hotels, resorts & highways”) are gradually ruining a once pristine environment. Historically, Amboli village came into being as one of the staging posts along the road from Vengurla port to the city of Belgaum, which was extensively used by the British to supply their garrisons in south and central India. The hills of Amboli village provide one of the sources of the Krishna river (The “Ganges” of south India) and an ancient Shiva temple (called Hiranyakeshi) exists at the cave where the water emerges. The main attraction for tourists is the incredibly high rainfall (7 meters average per year!)and the numerous waterfalls and mist during the monsoons. Legend has it that there are 108 Shiva temples in and around Amboli of which only a dozen have been uncovered, one as recently as 2005. There aren’t too many places to see or things to do but its quiet, unpolluted and the local residents are good natured and helpful.
Amboli is well connected by road to all the surrounding cities (Kolhapur 110 km, Belgaum 70 km, Panjim (Goa) 90 km) by road and the nearest airport is at Goa, about 2 hours drive away. All the roads are good and a new airport is expected to come up in north Goa shortly, reducing the travelling time to just over an hour.
There are 5 decent (and relatively cheap) hotels at Amboli although, sadly, none of them offer any guided tours into the forests, the main attraction of this hill station. However, an organization called Yoga Republic conducts Jungle Yoga camps and retreats from October to March.
The only local transport are motorised 3 wheeler rickshaws and a couple of private taxis. You’ll need them only for a day to check out the touristy places and can then depend upon your legs to take you the ones that interest you most.
Plan your days accordingly if you really want to taste the flavor of Konkan. There is a lot a to see and to do here and that too in every season. Ideally it would take over a week if you want to get real close-up. In all probability the best idea to see this district is to follow the geography. You can start from the north of the district and proceed to south or vise versa.
At North, Devgad and Vijaydurg are the not-to-be missed places. Visit to Devgad will be well worth it if you are going in April or May- The prime time for mangoes. Devgad is well known for best quality mangoes’ production. Vijaydurg and Sindhudurg are forts. Though now withered by time, they do present a treat to savour the might of Shivaji’s time.
A number of pristine beaches like Tarkarli, Malvan, Shiroda, Vengurla, Aarawali, Redi, Bhogave mark the coastline of the disctrict. The virgin beaches with long stretches of white sands, are usually crowdless. Following the footsteps of Kerala, even backwater tours including houseboats have also been initiated in recent times near Malvan. Tarkarli has also seen a rising activities in scuba diving as well.
Sawantwadi is a centre of tourist attraction in the south of the district. Many places like some beaches or hill station, Amboli are within a short reach from Sawantwadi. Amboli, a pristine hill station – unspoilt by manmade vagaries is a must-visit place during monsoon. It also hosts adventure sports academy which intermittently organises adventure camps which include activities such as Jungle Trail, Rock Climbing in Waterfalls and possibly paragliding.
Well too many places to hang around.. Just to quote a few it would be better to go with the locations..