VALLEY IN A WATER SPELL
A little detour off the high-speed Mumbai-Pune Expressway leads to Mumbai’s most popular weekend getaway, the resort town of Lonavala in the Sahyadri Mountains. Numerous waterfalls plummet and trickle through thickly forested hillsides and a cool green expanse of valley delights the eye. A moving dotted line of trucks and cars along the distant highway is the only faint reminder of a city in a rush. Khandala, the equally beautiful valley full of gushing streams amid thick greenery, is 5 km away.
Rediscovered in 1811 by the then Governor of Bombay, Sir Elphinstone, Lonavala was a mountain hideout for the Marathas who built forts and used the mountainous terrain for guerrilla warfare against the Mughals and the British in the 17th and 18th centuries. The richly carved Buddhist caves of Karla, Bhaja, and Bedsa that date back to the 2nd century BC, are also in the vicinity.
Today Lonavala is a popular holiday town and paved paths criss-cross the foot trails, leading to vantage points in the mountains. Overflowing dams and lakes like Bushi and Valvan accentuate the lush foliage and have emerged as cheerful picnic spots.
A speciality of Lonavala is the sweet nut-and-jaggery delicacy called chikki and its somewhat gooey counterpart called fudge. As you pick boxes of assorted chikki, some chocolate and mango fudge, a pair of Kolhapuri slippers, and assorted touristy knickknacks in this highly accessible mountain town, you feel wonderfully close and yet far removed from the city at the same time.
Kaivalyadham Yoga Centre located on a hilltop overlooking Valvan dam has yoga, naturopathy, and ayurveda packages to revive and recharge oneself.
- Area: 38 sq km
- Altitude: 625 metres (2,050 ft) above sea level
- State: Maharashtra
- Distance from nearby towns/ cities: Khopoli (13 km), Pune (64 km), Mumbai (96 km), Surat (340 km)
- Take away: Chikki, a sweet snack made of nuts and jaggery; fudge (in various flavours though chocolate is most popular); jelly sweets, jams, and chivda (a salted snack with nuts); Kolhapuri chappals made of leather
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18°C (night) - 38°C (day)
11°C - 20°C
Jun to Sep
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The monsoon months of June to September are by far the best time to be in Lonavala. At this time, dams are full and waterfalls are gushing, with the mountainside covered in sparkling green.
The months of October to March too have great weather and are good for sightseeing. Summer nights are cool though afternoons can get very hot.