What makes Lonavala and Khandala an easy weekend break from Mumbai and Pune (India) is its proximity, immense beauty and of course the ease in reaching. No wonder it is quite a popular destination amongst Mumbaikars and Punekars.
When I lived in Sanpada (near Vashi, Navi Mumbai) for 7 years, I used to make an annual trip every monsoon. The fact that it was just 1 hour away from my home made it an obvious choice.
Now that I have visited Lonavala and Khandala in all seasons, I cherish the monsoon visits the most. Lonavala and Khandala is pleasant in all seasons. However, monsoon exposes their real beauty. The monsoon in Lonavala and Khandala is rejuvenating, what with clouds filling your face, water gushing from every corner, verdant landscapes welcoming you cheerfully.
Below are some of my favourite destinations in Lonavala and Khandala.
- Tiger Point:
A winding road upwards takes you to this touristy spot. A flat ground next to the tarred road faces valleys. Monkeys goof around on the iron railings. Tourists hang out for chai and hot vadapaos, especially in monsoon. Some food vans sell the special maggi pakoda and cheese pakoda (fritters). Tiger point is also the mistiest point. On clear weather one can see amazing sunsets from here.
Tip: I advise against the camel ride. It’s a tourist trap and exploitative.
- Rajmachi Point:
A touristy ticketed garden faces mist laden valleys and mountains. There are benches and lotus ponds in the landscaped garden. A flute (baasuri) vendor who sells flutes that can imitate a koyal (cuckoo) is unmissable. After 15 minutes of practise we were successful in making the sound of a koyal. Touristy but fun nonetheless. “Hawa de kar Tuu-huuu bolne ka” said the flute wala.
We stood at the viewing point inside the garden, sometimes staring at the serpentine roads, at times observing the mist clouding colourful houses in far distance.
Once done with the park, we moved to the adjoining restaurant and indulged in poori bhaji (Fried Indian bread with potato and tomato curry) and chai. It was cheap and delicious and much recommended.
Once out, we tried to spot some famous ‘Points’ but failed thanks to the thick fog!
Tip: Toilet is available in the park. Get out and enjoy sweet corn in the street overlooking the valley.
- Shooting Point:
Many of our film stars have thrusted their pelvis, fooled around trees and ran in slow motion to hug each other at this famous shooting point. We tried to ape them with limited success.
Its proximity to Mumbai and boundless beauty makes it a preferred shooting destination for Indian film and TV industry. Some places here are even known by the names where a particular ad series was shot such as Liril point, Amrutanjan point etc! The view from shooting point is breath-taking, what with huge waterfalls cascading voluptuously as if in a hurry to form temporary rivers snaking its way through the green valley. Awe – inspiring indeed! All this for free!
Tip: Observe the small flowers and mushrooms in the bushes. Go for long leisurely walks. It is perfect for picnic as well.
- Celebrity Wax Museum:
If you don’t expect a Madame Tussads here, you will enjoy the celebrity Wax Museum of Lonavala. Why Indians will enjoy the wax museum in Lonavala is because it has the wax statues of many prominent Indian celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Kapil Dev, Mahatma Gandhi etc. I found Anna Hazare’s statue the most realistic. A quick stop here can be easily included in your trip. It is ticketed.
Tip: Clean toilet available.
- Aamby Valley: If luxury and adventure sports are what you are looking for then Aamby Valley is the place. You can do myriad activities here. Some of the things you can do at Aamby Valley include water fountains shows, stroll in green hills, golf, broadway shows, adventure and water sports, spa sessions and even sky diving. What’s more? It is also emerging as the destination for wedding and corporate meets.
- Bushy Dam:
People enjoy sitting on the steps which lead to the dam. The water from the dam falls on the steps. The water falls from many directions into huge gaps in the rock, which makes the biggest one look like a huge bath-tub carved by nature. Most tourists vie for this spot, bracing themselves to struggle with the forces of chilled (in monsoon) water rushing from all directions. I noticed some even relishing hot chai and vada-pao while sitting in the ‘bath-tub’. Changing room for men and women is available. During the peak of monsoon, the route from the main road to the dam can be inundated with water, often till knee.
- Do relish the food on various stalls here. I still remember the taste of hot missal pao and boiled groundnuts.
- Carry extra clothes. You will most likely be wet here.
- Be cautious of slippery rocks. I almost fell twice.
- Karla and Bhaja caves:
Not many tourists go here. However, for those who are interested in ancient history will find it difficult to tear themselves away from the 22 rock cut caves. Dating back to 2nd century B.C., these caves transport one to a bygone era.
- Duke’s nose:
Duke’s nose is an easy day trek in Khandala. Interestingly, the ‘point’ resembles Duke of Wellington’s nose, hence the name. The trekking trail starts from the Khandala Railway station. It is an easy trek and therefore ideal for beginners. The misty trail is quite popular with adventure enthusiasts in monsoon.
- Rajmachi Fort:
Maharashtra is famous for its ancient forts. Rajmachi Fort is near Lonavala and Khandala and a day trip here is easy. An easy trek acquaints travellers to the rich history of the place. Due to the shortage of facilities, most people do it as a day trip from Lonavala and Khandala. The locals are friendly and sell food and shelter for throw away prices.
- Lonavala Lake:
Not much to write home about but you will pass Lonavala Lake at least once while hopping from one place to another in Lonavala and Khandala. It’s mostly barricaded by ugly wires and hence not much popular with tourists.
How to reach Lonavala and Khandala:
Indrayani Express Lonavala station to Mumbai
Koyna Express from Thane to Lonavala
Road: So many times, we have driven from Mumbai to Khandala. The ride is smooth, pleasant and short.
Bus: Many buses to Lonavala and Khandala are available from Pune and Mumbai.
Where To Stay in Lonavala and Khandala:
Lonavala and Khandala has plethora of stay options for all kind of travellers. Check out these Lonavala Hotels for some great deals on luxury hotels and resorts. Some of the hotels are in the middle of all the action, while some are tucked away in quaint locations. Most point of attractions are nearby and it is convenient to travel from one point to another.
Tip: You can hire a rickshaw/cab who will drive you to the places of tourist interest in Lonavala and Khandala. Best is that you drive down and travel at your own pace.
Responsible Tourism Alert in Lonavala and Khandala:
- Lonavala and Khandala at times can become the playground for hooligans. Don’t encourage them, don’t be one of them. (A visit on a weekday is much better than a visit on weekend)
- Say no to animal rides.
- Don’t litter just because every-one else is.
- Buy from locals.
- Don’t drink on roads and smash beer bottles on road. DON’T!
How can you not pack multi flavoured chikkis (Peanuts and jaggery cakes) from countless shops on the main road?
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