|Destination Type: Hill Station|
Those living in Mumbai or Pune consider it a blessing indeed that they have the twin hill stations of Lonavla and Khandala almost a hop, skip and jump away. Perched high on the hill ranges that separate the two metro cities, both these places are known for their salubrious climate and the beautiful green cover they flourish during the monsoon.
Lonavla is about 64 kilometers away from Pune and 96 kilometers from Mumbai. Well known for its ‘chikki’ and fudge, it is also an important rail head on the Pune-Mumbai railway line and easily connected by road too with an expressway running through it. Like other hill stations in Maharashtra, here too you will find ‘points’ that offer breathtaking sights of the valley and the hills with tiny villages tucked in the folds. One of the best points, about 6.5 kilometers from Lonavla, is Rajmachi Point which commands a view of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s famous fort, Rajmachi, and the surrounding valley.
For picnics, Ryewood Park is the best place in Lonavla. This is an extensive garden that covers a lot of ground and is full of tall trees. There is an old temple dedicated to Shiva in the park. Another hotspot with tourists is the Valvan Dam which has a garden at its foot. The dam supplies water to the Khopoli power station at the foothills of the Sahyadris for generating electricity. You can also visit Duke’s Nose which is about 12 kilometers from Lonavla. This is popular with hikers and the cliff owes its name to the Duke of Wellington, whose ample nose it resembles.
Tiger’s Leap, also known as Tiger’s Point, is a cliff-top with a sheer drop of over 650 meters, giving an extensive view. Buses are available up to INS Shivaji and the remaining distance of about 1.6 kilometers has to be covered on foot. Just around Tiger’s Leap is a small waterfall active only during the monsoon. It serves the purpose of relaxing in the water better than Bhushi Dam as the force of the fall is higher.
By Air : The nearest airport is at Pune, 66 km. away. One can come here from Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.
By Rail : From Mumbai, get down at Lonavala station around 2.5 hours away.
By Road : Mumbai - Pune Expressway to Lonavala takes around 2 to 3 hours from Mumbai depending on traffic. ST and Asiad buses headed for Pune from Dadar stop at Lonavala.
Fun & Frolic at Bhushi Dam
This is the most favourite spot of people visiting Lonavala specially in the monsoons when the water brims over and adds to the beauty of the place.
Explore Some Caves
If you would like to see the magnificence of Indian art and history, you must make it a point to visit the caves of Karla and Bhaja, located about 15 kilometers from Lonavla. The more popular Karla Caves date back to 1st century BCE. After a trek uphill through the winding roads, the impressive rock-cut structure includes the stupa, a representation of the Buddha, and an aisle made up of 37 pillars and carved elephant heads, which once had real ivory tusks. Just outside Karla Caves lies the Ekvira Temple, the chief shrine of the Koli (fishing community) and is visited by thousands of devotees every year. Exactly opposite the Karla ridge lie the Bhaja Caves dating to 2nd century BCE.
From Kamshet one can also visit the Bhedse caves. They are also dated to 1st century CE.For the history lovers the forts Visapur and Lohagad are just close to the Bhaja caves. For the religious minded there are two Ashtavinayaka places nearby namely, Pali and Mahad.
Meet People of Wax
Sunil Kandaloor’s celebrity wax museum, a first in India, has become a ‘must see’ for tourists who come to Lonavla and Khandala. You can click yourself with your favourite Indian and international celebrities, including Sachin Tendulkar or Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.