The weekly grind at work had drained me out. All I planned to do was stay in over the weekend and get some much-needed sleep and catch up on my favourite series. However, just as I was getting settled in, ‘Pack your bags, heading to Lonavala tomorrow’, popped up on my screen and I instantly felt my laziness drain away.
I forgot all about sleeping in and watching the series, and the excitement of exploring a new place took over me. I was packed and ready to go within minutes. Unfortunately, I had to wait until the morning to leave. My friends arrived before the sun rose and we were all set to go and make some wonderful memories.
Lonavala is a hill station that is located 83 kilometres from Mumbai making it a perfect spot to go on a weekend getaway. We rode to Lonavala on the Mumbai Pune expressway, which was a really rejuvenating ride. The route offers great views of the Western Ghats, and it looks even more beautiful in the rainy season when everything is lush green. The route is dotted with beautiful waterfalls as well that make the journey exhilarating.
Proximity to Mumbai wasn’t the only reason why we chose to ride to Lonavala but also because of its affordability. There are a ton of places that we could visit and it didn’t cost us much either to go to those places.
Route to Lonavala
We left early in the morning to avoid the morning traffic and we reached within 2 hours. The ride was a pleasant one and we took a couple of halts to take some pictures along the way. We had a hot cup of coffee on the way and grabbed a quick bite.
Once our stomachs were full, we knew we were ready to take on the adventures that this beautiful place that in store for us. We were all set to go to the first place on our list.
1. Karla Caves
Time: 9 am
As soon as the Lonavala plan was in the making, we just knew that we had to start with Karla Caves. Also known as Karle Caves, these are carved from a rocky hillside. These caves are among the oldest Buddhist cave shrines in the country. They were carved almost 2000 years ago and it is believed that many caves are still unearthed in the region.
Karla caves are made of an extensive collection of beautiful halls and monasteries which reflect a rich history. The temple is made from pillars from the Buddhist period and you will have to climb 150 stairs to reach the cave.
These caves were developed over two periods: from 2nd century BC to 2nd Century AD and in 5th – 10th Century AD.
Entrance Fee: Rs. 5 per person.
2. Lunch: German Bakery Wunderbar
Time: 1 pm
We spent way more time exploring the caves than we had planned to. In fact, we didn’t feel like leaving the place! But our grumbling stomachs reminded us that we had to get lunch. And we headed to a place whose reputation preceded itself.
You must not miss German Bakery Wunderbar if you are looking for some incredible food. After ordering almost half the menu, we were all fuelled up to go to our next destination.
Don’t forget to pick up packets of Maganlal Chikki and chocolate fudge from the shops that are right outside the restaurant. You will seriously regret it if you don’t, trust me! Lonavala has the best chikki ever.
3. Lion’s Point
Time: 3 pm
Lion’s Point was around 13 kms from German Bakery and it took us about 30 mins to reach the place. This vantage point is exactly between the Aamby Valley and Bhushi Dam in Lonavala. It is definitely one of the most popular viewpoints in the area.
Luckily, there was an overcast and the weather was extremely pleasant. Suffice to say, the panoramic view from Lion’s Point was majestic. During the rains, it gets even more beautiful and you can see small waterfalls mushrooming at different places. Once we soaked in the awesomeness that this place had to offer, we drove to the next place.
4. Tiger’s Point
Time: 4.30 pm
Another popular tourist point is the Tiger’s Point or Tiger’s Leap and that was where we were headed to next. It is a cliff top which offers a panoramic view of the surrounding hills. We were wowed by the greenery and we just couldn’t get enough of it. We stayed back until it was starting to get dark and we headed to the homestay we were staying overnight.
We had a long day ahead of us the next day, so we just decided to hang out at the homestay, have an early dinner and sleep.
Time: 7 am
We woke up to the chirping of birds, which was a pleasant change from all the honking that is common in Mumbai mornings. We had to get an early start to the day. After freshening up and having a quick cup of tea, we started our drive to Rajmachi Fort. We reached there by 7 am and began our trek.
Rajmachi is a small village in the Sahyadri range. There are two forts in Rajmachi – Shrivardhan Fort and Manaranjan Fort. The Rajmachi fort was a strategic fort to control Borghat, which was a historical trade route.
We trekked a little bit and we were welcomed to sights that were out of this world. We wanted to do the full trek and reach the top but that was a plan for some other time. The mini-trek we did warmed us up for what came next.
- Della Adventure Park
Time 11 am
We grabbed a quick brunch and headed straight to Della Adventure Park. This is India’s ‘Largest Xtreme Adventure Park’. All of us were adrenaline junkies and our plan to go to Della finally came to fruition.
There are over 50 thrilling activities to choose from – right from Motocross dirt bike riding, Archery, Rocket Ejector, Rappelling, Paintball, Buggy Ride to name a few.
We could have spent the entire day there but we knew we were short on time.
Before we left, we went to one of the many multi-cuisine restaurants that are on the grounds. After the extreme sports, we were undoubtedly hungry. We tucked in some delish food and were ready to head to our final spot.
Time: 5.30 pm
After an adrenaline-filled day, we wanted to unwind before leaving for Mumbai. And, the Sunset Point in Khandala was the perfect place to do that. We were just in time to see the sun get ready to set. The blazing ball of fire stuck around for a while and we sat in silence as we saw it go down.
You can see a popular trekking spot called Duke’s Point from this place. The picturesque spot offers a panoramic view of the surrounding hills. There couldn’t have been a better spot than this to witness a beautiful sunset.
With such a serene end to our trip, it was finally time for us to head back to Mumbai. I must say, this was way better than just laying around in the house in pyjamas and watching back-to-back episodes of any series.
What More in Lonavala
We had been to Lonavala a couple of times before, so this time we skipped a lot of our usual spots and went to places we never had been to before. If you are going to Lonavala for the first time, you can visit the following places as well:
- Bhushi Dam: This is a masonry dam built upon Indrayani River. This is one of the best places to visit in the monsoons. The water from the waterfall flows over the steps of Bhushi Dam. You can enjoy the waterfall, sit on the steps and have a super fun time.
- Sunil’s Celebrity Wax Museum: Well, we don’t have Madame Tussaud’s but this is a good place to go if you are interested in seeing wax replicas of celebrities. It is founded by a wax artist from Kerala, Sunil Kandaloor. It has wax sculptures of several popular people like Kapil Dev, Rajiv Gandhi, AR Rahman, Michael Jackson, and Chhatrapati Shivaji to name a few.
- Lohagad Fort: This is a UNESCO world heritage site that is situated at a height of 3400 feet. This is the perfect blend of natural beauty and architecture. It was built in the 18th century and is a perfect destination for trekking. An interesting fact is that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj used to keep his treasury in this fort.
The trek to this fort is an easy one and even beginners can easily complete it.
- Tungarli Dam: It is built alongside the Tungarli lake in the region of Rajmachi. You can camp beside the lake and enjoy the greenery.
- Kune Waterfalls: These are the 14th highest waterfalls in India measuring at a height of 200 meters. Kune waterfalls fall in three tiers amidst the Sahyadri range within the Lonavala – Khandala valley. You can enjoy these falls from afar as entry is restricted.
As we were heading back to Mumbai, we were already reliving the fun we had over the two-day trip. We found ourselves already making plans to visit in one of the long weekends and explore more places that are around Lonavala.
Finally, I reached home and hit the bed almost immediately. Needless to say, I had a humongous smile on my face.