"An Easy Escape to Nature: Lonavala & Khandala in Monsoons"
Article & Photographs by 
Ranadeep Bhattacharyya & Judhajit Bagchi 
July - Oct 2014 Issue 3
Duke's Nose overlooking the Mumbai Pune Expressway
Duke's Nose in Khandala Ghat
Panoramic View of the Scenery from Hanuman Point
Panoramic View of the Paona lake in Lonavala
Boating at Paona lake in Lonavala
Eco Tourism at Paona lake Lonavala
Bushy Dam in Lonavala
Panoramic view of Khandala Ghats in the monsoons
Myriads of Waterfalls enroute to Lonavala
The mesmerising roads of Khandala Ghat
Fresh dew drops on grass (Photogrp[aher's delight)
In the lap of nature at Paona Lake Lonavala
Spring in lonavala 
The Green Cover of the Monsoons over Khandala Ghat
The lush green carpet on Khandala Ghat after the rains
Tiger point or sunset point
The Karla Caves 
Karla Caves with the Ekvira Temple 
An Easy Escape to Nature: Lonavala & Khandala in Monsoons
Judhajit Bagchi & Ranadeep Bhattacharya
Just a three-hour drive from the hustle bustle of Mumbai, takes one to a world of infinite charm in the lap of nature- Lonavla and Khandala! A welcome getaway for the Mumbaikars and Puneites all round the year, this twin hill station becomes special in the monsoons. The otherwise barren Western Ghats get a green carpet like cover and waterfalls spring up spontaneously all over.
Maharashtra may be the only state in India where travel enthusiasts look forward to the monsoons. The sweet smell of the first downpour when nature rejuvenates itself is also the best time to travel across Maharashtra’s daunting hills that come alive with carefree waterfalls, cool mist and intermittent rainfall making it a paradise for travellers and trekkers alike.
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.
Whatever means you chose to reach this place; the pleasant mist and drizzle will cheer you up. 
Soak in the Nature
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 Lonavala, is Rajmachi Point which commands a view of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s famous fort, Rajmachi, and the surrounding valley.
If you don’t plan to only relax in the hotel, there are plenty of places to see in Lonavala, either by driving around or through trekking. Breathtaking views of the mountains and valley can be seen from Duke’s Nose, Ryewood Park, Rajmachi Point and Tiger’s Leap. Just in exchange of a few rupees, you can glance through the telescopes of the local guides and discover hidden waterfalls for yourself. You could sit on the steps of the Bushy dam nestled inside the forest and enjoy the magic of flowing water under your feet. If fishing is your calling, then the numerous lakes and dams in this area would definitely be your ideal retreat. The misty Khandala Ghat is also the favorite spot for photographers.
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.
The latest addition to attractions at Lonavala is Sunil Kundaloor’s wax museum. You could get yourself clicked with your favorite Indian and international celebrities.
Take a Trip Down History
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 Bedsa 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.
Lonavla and Khandala have so much to offer to tourists in the rain that no wonder Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan rightly said in his famous song Aati Kya Khandala- ‘Khandala mein chikki khayenge, waterfall ko jayenge; Barsaat ke season mein hi toh maza hai meri maina! (We will have Chikkki in Khandala and visit the waterfalls in the rains as it’s the best time to be drenched in fun and frolic at Khandala!)”
Getting there:
Distance from Mumbai: 102 km south east of Mumbai
By Air: Nearest Airport is Pune, 66 km. away. Also one can come here from Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.
By Rail: From Mumbai, get down at Lonavala station.
By Road: Mumbai-Pune Expressway to Lonavala. Takes around 2-3 hours. ST and Asiad buses headed for Pune from Dadar stop at Lonavala.
1. Pawna Lake
2. Lohagad Fort
3. Korigad Fort
4.The historic city of Pune
5. Kamshet
Travel tips:
1. Carry a raincoat and umbrella if the downpour gets too heavy
2. For trekkers, do carry first aid kit with you.
3. Avoid rash driving on the highway to be safe, as the road gets quite slippery and prone to accidents during the monsoons.
What to eat: (local food specialties)
1. Lonavala’s special Chikki. Maganlals and A1 are the best places to shop for chikkis after tasting a lot of varities.
2. For the best fudge, do visit Coopers at Lonavala Market.
Where to stay: (along with MTDC resorts also mention homestays if available)
1. MTDC Karla. Tel: 02114-282230, 282064
2. Fariyas Holiday Resort, PO Box 8, Frichey Hill, Tungarli, Lonavala. Tel: 02114-273852

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