Panoramic landscapes, numerous waterfalls, lakes and dams at Lonavala make for an exciting getaway. This small hill station midway between Mumbai and Pune attracts visitors in thousands from both cities and from across Maharashtra during monsoons. Lonavala, based just off the Pune – Mumbai Expressway, has been a popular destination since decades. Along with its equally popular twin Khandala, Lonavala is based at an altitude of 2041 feet asl. Lonavala is also the base for INS Shivaji, the Indian Navy’s training institute.
As one reaches Lonavala, the first customary stop is at the Ramakrishna Restaurant. A popular eatery on the main junction, it serves south Indian and Punjabi cuisine and most travellers take a break here before heading out to the dam and view points. Lonavala is also well known for ‘Chikki’ a candy made of peanuts and dry fruits. Another must try is the ‘Fudge’ which comes in many flavors – chocolate, walnut, almond etc.
Adventure sports are very popular in Lonavala such as Go-Carting, zip line, Hang gliding, Mountain biking, Mountaineering, Mountain boarding, Paragliding etc. During the months of monsoon between June and September, tourists flock to Lonavala to enjoy in its numerous waterfalls. There are many beautiful and scenic tourist places to visit.
Places to Visit
Lonavala Lake – Located just 1.5 kms away, the lake is strikingly beautiful in a very scenic setting. The lake fills up during the monsoons months and dries up during summer.
Dukes Nose – A favourite spot for trekking specially during monsoons, Dukes Nose is located 12 kms from Lonavala. This prominent landmark can be sighted from the Mumbai-Pune expressway. The cliff got its name from its resemblance to the nose of the Duke of Wellington. Locals refer to it as Nagphani, meaning cobra’s hood.
Bushy Dam – The dams overflowing water gushing down the steps during monsoon makes it unarguably the most popular and extremely crowded attraction during monsoons. Many small guesthouses have sprung up in the area that provide the use of changing rooms and bathrooms for a small fee. Hawkers throng the place selling roasted corn, tea etc. A few stalls along the road sell colourful pottery and crockery at cheap rates.
Tiger’s Point – Also known as Tiger’s Leap, this point lies at the top of the Sahyadri plateau ahead of INS Shivaji. It offers a magnificent view of the far flung valleys below. The scenic beauty of this point can be garnered from the fact that it has been extremely popular with Bollywood. Many movie scenes and songs have been shot here over the years. Standing at the railing along the edge of the precipice, one can but marvel at the sheer drop. There are numerous tea stalls that serve hot pakoras and beverages. Cars can drive right upto the point and ample parking space is available. The point gets crowded during weekends and children as well as elders can be seen enjoy camel rides or roasted corn on the cob.
Rajmachi Point – Located around 6 kms from Lonavala, this point provides a panoramic view of the Western Ghats and Rajmachi, Shivaji’s famous fort. The popular Vaghjai Dari is located here.
Ryewood Park and Shivaji Udyan -Spread across multiple layers, the garden lies on the way to Bushy Dam. The garden has tall shady trees and temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is ideal for children to play.
Valvan Dam – Located 2kms from Lonavala, Valvan Dam provides water to the Khopoli Hydro-power Station. The reservoir is fed by the Kundalini River. There is a garden at the base of the dam.
Pavana Lake and Dam – An extremely scenic lake and dam near Lonavala. The Lohagad boating club offers boating facilities at the dam.
Tungarli dam and Lake – Built during the British Era, this dam is a popular spot during monsoon.
Wax Museum – On the lines of Madame Tussaud, this museum houses wax statues of Indian celebrities. The statues are life like and make for an interesting visit. From Lonavala, take the old Mumbai – Pune highway and look out for the Wax museum sign on the right.
Karla & Bhaja caves – Said to have been built by Buddhist monks in the BC era, these caves are located off the old Mumbai – Pune highway high up on the hills. The main cave has a huge statue of Buddha. It can be accessed upto a certain point via the Ekvira Devi road. Thereafter broad steps lead up to the main entrance of the cave. The Ekvira Devi temple located outside Karla caves is highly revered by the locals. The Bhaja Caves are equally intriguing and consist of 18 caves and 14 stupas.
Korigad Fort – Located at an altitude of 3000 ft, the fort has to be accessed by foot from Shahpur village. The track is rugged and goes through wilderness.
Lohagad Fort – The twin forts of Lohagad and Visapur can be accessed by foot from Malavali and are visible from the Mumbai – Pune highway. The 11 km trek upto the fort takes around 1.5 hours to ascend and 1 hour to descend. The fort was once a stronghold of Shivaji. It is an popular trek with the young during monsoon and many groups of trekkers can be seen making their way up. Do carry adequate food and water as there is nothing available along the way or at the top of the fort. After the arduous climb, trekkers are rewarded with magnificent views of the valley below and one can see right upto Lonavala. The sunrise and sunsets are absolutely breathtaking from this altitude.
Tungi Fort – Located near Karjat, this fort was captured by Malik Ahmad
Summer: 28-36 Degrees Celsius
Winter: 15-25 Degrees Celsius
Best Time to visit: July-September and December-February
Pune: 65 kms, 1 hour via the Pune – Mumbai Expressway.
Mumbai: 93 kms, 2 hours via the Mumbai – Pune Expressway.
Lonavala is well connected by train from both Mumbai and Pune. All Mumbai-Pune trains halt at Lonavala. Trains from Mumbai go upto Khopoli from where buses and cabs ply to Lonavala. Local trains also ply from Pune to Lonavala every 2 hours.