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Monsoon Magic in Lonavla
Oct 05, 2004 02:02 PM 15102 Views
(Updated Oct 05, 2004 02:07 PM)

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The day we went to Lonavla, I was cursing myself inside for having chosen to come to Lonavla instead of going to Mahabaleshwar.


That evening we reluctantly left our resort at around 6.00 pm and were nearing Khandala, when it suddenly started to drizzle and within five minutes we were driving thru very heavy rains and clouds . The clouds came from no-where to surround us all around. We could not see more than 20 ft in front of us even with the fog lights on. It was one of the best experiences in our lives to drive thru such heavy rain and mist combination. In 15 minutes, everything was back to normal. That is Lonavla for you folks.


The name Lonavla comes from the Sanskrit word Lanavli which means ?a place around which caves exist?. It is situated 65 kms from Pune and 100 kms from Mumbai on the main Express way (also on the old Highway). Though Lonavla is situated only at a height of 600 m, it surprisingly retains a salubrious climate right around the year (except in peak summer when temp could be around 35 deg C)



When?


The rains bring out the best in Lonavla.So july and august are the best time to visit. September would be a good choice without as much rain.



Where?


I strongly recommend staying away from the town in a quiet corner as it could get pretty crowded with maddening city crowds during any weekend and during the summer months. Khandala (5 kms away), more scenic and less known twin town is an option to remember.



There are innumerable resorts, bungalows and hotels in the twin towns to suit every budget.


We had a time share with Bajaj Highland holidays. This resort though is not as well maintained as their other resorts (may be due to its age or because of the number of people using it). They do have a decent restaurant and a good looking swimming pool.



The best place is Dukes retreat in Khandala. This resort is situated on a small hill top on the Mumbai ? Khandala main road. It offers a magnificent view of the valley below. Both their coffee shop and their bar offer you these scenic views. Tariff is pretty stiff at above 4000 Rs per night could get you a complete holiday with their pool and tennis courts. Their restaurant and bar rates are not unreachable.


Fariyas resort is another very good resort situated on a quiet hill garden between Khandala and Lonavla. It offers all amenities and facilities that come with price (around 4000 Rs / night).


Sterlinghas a resort situated about 4 kms away from Lonavla on a remote hill top and offers a calm and quiet ambience. Their food is outstanding.


MTDC resort in Karlais a quiet place with the most natural ambience. Their cute cottages are surrounded by acres of greenery. They have a lake in their back yard where water sports are conducted. The only drawback could be their laid back approach.


For good food, there is Ramkrishnaoffering a good variety of vegetarian and a mini non-vegetarian selection too.



What?


Lonavla is best explored by foot.Walking, exploring and enjoying the cool air and the scenic surroundings give you an immense satisfaction. This could be all the more enjoying if you do it as a couple. This whole area is filled with tiny silver cascades all around and hills waiting to be explored.


There are quite a few spots which are worthwhile to see.



Sunset Point (5 kms):


This spot in Khandala gets top honors. We enjoyed a spectacular and picturesque sunset on our second evening. As with all sunsets, we ended up wondering why the sunset can?t extend for a few more minutes?



From this spot, you could also see the Mumbai highway go winding downhill. The Express way zooms past parallel to the old road. Trains run perpendicular to these two roads. It is a unique experience to see the trains and vehicles going in and out of the tunnels from this spot.


You could also see the Duke?s nose - the top of the hill that resembles the nose of the Iron Duke of Wellington.



Bushi dam (6 kms):


This is a 100 ft high dam. During monsoon, water overflows and comes down on the steps leading up to the dam. You could just sit on the steps with water flowing all around you for a perfect experience. We could not do this and had to be content with taking a photo with water flowing around our feet as we did not take spare clothes with us.


The Lonavla lake that dries up during summer and fills during monsoon and the lake with Tata power station are nice spots on the way up to Bushi dam.



Tiger?s leap and Shiv-ling view (12 kms):


These twin points are located on the road up from Bushi dam past INS Shivaji. The Tiger?s leap (a tiger had supposedly leapt into the valley below) offers a panoramic view of the valley below with rivers and silver cascadesand a lovely view of the waterfall flowing from the dam in INS Shivaji ? a navy base. You also get to see this hill that looks exactly like a Shiv-ling.


The INS Shivaji can also be seen from close quarters as you climb up the ghat to these two points.


I would recommend driving further up towards a township called Amby valley situated around 12 kms from Tigers Leap. The winding road uphill is the best hill road I have driven thru and the unique township has an airstrip for its residents to use



Tiger Valley / Rajmachi point (Khandala):


Situated close to the Sunset point, this cliff top offers a beautiful view of the valley below and a good view of winding waterfalls. Think about the Mumbai-Pune highway and the rail line that have been tunneled under this hill top, you will appreciate this marvel.



Karla Caves (12 kms):


These ancient Buddhist caves have been in existence for more than 2000 years and are an ancient stone marvel. The big hall has evenly carved pillars all around. There is a Devi temple at the entrance and many small restrooms carved around the cave.


To get to the caves, you would have to drive half way up thru a hill and then climb around 300 steps by walk. Be ready with your water bottles for the climb.


This region has many more spots to be explored and Lonavla is a trekker?s delight. But we could not do more because of time constraints.



Buy?


Chikki?s are the best buy. Maganlalis the most popular and has the maximum number of franchises. National is the distant second in the Chikki trade. Fudges are also supposedly good at a few selected outlets.


Another special buy is the key chain with your name engraved on rice(or with any special name you want) for 10 to 40 Rs per piece at the entrance to the Bushi dam.



Request?


Lonavla and Khandala are beautiful hill towns that are being polluted and spoilt withplastic and other litter everywhere. Each of us visiting this place have the responsibility to avoid littering and spoiling these beautiful natural twins.


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