God put his heart and soul in creating Lonavala hill station and ended up producing his magnum opus. The magnificence of this hill station will leave you stunned. With winds blowing over the lake that spray you with the cool waters that persistently cascade down the mountains in the contour of waterfalls with greenery all around, you will be transported into Eden. This arouses the sensation of people while rejuvenating them. With birds chirping to wake you up instead of an alarm clock, your day is sure to be delightful. The misty fogs that greet you when you arise will stimulate you into action.
Though Lonavala is technically in Pune district of Maharashtra, it is a home away from home to the populace of Pune as well as Mumbai. Standing proud at an altitude of 622 meters in Sahyadri ranges, it extends over an area of 38 square kilometers. At a distance of approximately 96 kilometers from Mumbai city and 64 kilometers from Pune city, it is a favorite retreat for both. It falls in between Pune and Mumbai. Lonavala is one of the stations midway between Mumbai to Pune.
If you plan of flying in, the nearest domestic airport would be Pune while the nearest International airport would be Mumbai. Lonavala is accessible by train, taxi and bus. There are two main highways that connect Lonavala to Pune and Mumbai, the Mumbai-Pune highway and the Mumbai-Pune expressway.
In the year 1871, Sir Elphinston stumbled upon the twin hill stations of Lonavala and Khandala. The Karla caves, Bhaja caves and Bedsa, which are in the vicinity of Lonavala are referred to as Lonavli, a Sanskrit word, which lends us the name Lonavala. The weather here is pleasant. The winters are cool although the summers are mild. Between June and September Lonavala receives heavy southwestern monsoon rains.
The most pleasant time to visit Lonavala is from October to May, yet the monsoons attract the most visitors as the waterfalls and lakes become animated during this time. The climatic conditions of this place are good for the overall fitness. The main languages spoken here are Hindi, Marathi and English.
On the way to Rajmachi Fort, near Lonavala/Khandala/Karjat after 4th check point, we got to this spectacular view of this big waterfall on the other side of the valley (recorded using a Sony/P990i device)
A video on how chikki is made. In fact, this video claims that the word “chikki” was first coined here. There’s a story that relates back 120 years ago on how the grandfather of the current owner of Maganlal Industries accidentally made the first chikki. The video also shows the various phases of manufacturing chikki, step by step. Highly recommended watching!
Blazed Lonavala Run
Enjoy the video with nice background music.
Rain in Lonavala
Its great to visit Lonavala during the monsoon. Watch this group of friends having fun in the rain at Lonavala!
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Bhairavanath Devasthan is temple resting on top of a mountain. This mountain is not easy to scale as one needs to traverse a meandering path which is hacked through the dense foliage. This temple cannot be approached by vehicle. One needs to face dense foliage, swift rivulets, deep valleys and eerie sounds coming from monkeys and peacocks. The stairs carved out of rock and covered with creepers make the climb slimy and pretty challenging.
Man seems to always be in pursuit of happiness while it appears to dodge him from time to time. And yet when he has it he seems to lose it. The cause for this is his psychological limitation. Some years back a publication by the name of Manashakti Mansik Path was established. The Manashakti Kenra published it. The Manashakti Kendra is situated at Varsoli near Lonavala on the Mumbai Pune Highway.
In the year 1966, an institute by the name of Antar Bhartiya Balgram was founded. The principle behind founding this institute was to provide equal opportunity at a chance to education for the intelligent but economically backward children.
Late Swami Kuvalayanand established an institute called Kaivalya Dham Yoga Center to teach yoga. This institute can be located on a scenic hill quite close to Valvan Lake. Yoga has benefited man in more ways than one. It is vital for man’s spiritual, mental, physical and scientific growth.
While traveling from Mumbai to Lonavala, one will come across a place called Rajmachi Park at the beginning of the ghats. There is a charming garden here with a breathtaking view of the vicinity. On the one side you will catch a glimpse of two towers of the Rajmachi Fort and a huge valley on the other. A restaurant here serves you hot and delicious snacks while you enjoy the scenery. The children can take a break and run around before embarking on the ghats.
It would be a good idea to pick up some of the local delicacy called chikki. This is prepared by heating jaggery and adding nuts into it. Some of the more expensive ones contain dry fruits such as pistachios, almonds and cashew nuts. The cheaper ones will contain coconut, sesame seeds, peanuts and puffed rice.
There are several lakes that one could visit here but the best time for it would be in the monsoons as that is when they fill up to the brim.
To see the Valvan Lake in all its splendor one needs to hike up to the dam built on it. It is a good place to spend the evening in the garden below the dam. The water from this dam is utilized by the Khopoli power station to generate electricity. Another lake worth checking out is the Lonavala Lake. You can spend some peaceful moments at this lake which is abounded by greenery. It is only about 1.6 kilometers from the town. Please take note that you won’t find any water here during the winter. The most popular and most visited spot is Bushi dam. During the monsoons you would need to elbow your way to find a small spot to bathe under the waterfall.
Yet another lake is the Tungarli Lake. This lake also has a dam constructed on it. The young and old alike enjoy climbing up the mountain to arrive at the dam which surges with water during the monsoon season. Some of the celebrity homes and the Hotel Laguna are visible from atop. This makes a great place for camping. It is 3 kilometers from the station and you can get a taxi, bus or auto rickshaw to take you there. Lonavala’s water supply comes from Tungarli Lake.
At some point between Bushi Dam and Amby Valley comes Lion’s Point. The panorama here will bring you back to this place. Another point is Tiger’s Leap. It is situated on top of a steep cliff with a drop of over 650 meters. You are sure to miss a heart beat at this vista. Be prepared to hoof it for the latter part of the way.
Looking for a pleasant place to bide your time? Head for the Ryewood Park and Shivaji Udyan. This is a huge garden with an abundance of trees with winds whispering through them. An old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is situated within the confines of the Park. The children can run amok here as there is an ample amount of space for them to play without worrying about approaching vehicles.
Hikers love to trudge up to the Duke’s Nose, which is at a distance of 12 kilometers from Lonavala in the direction of Mumbai. The cliff got its name from the massive nose of the Duke of Wellington.
Going towards Pune, you will come across Karla caves. The Buddhist monks sculpted this complex of cave shrines around 3rd Century to 2nd Century BC. You need to scale a multitude of steps to see the Karla caves.
One of Maharaja Shivaji’s forts has been built here. It is called Lohagad Fort, which literally means Iron Fort. You will be greeted with a commanding view of the surrounding hills and hamlets.