|Facts and Figures|
|Languages||Marathi, Hindi and English|
|Best time to visit||October-May|
JEWEL OF THE SAHYADRI
Lonavala is an important hill station in the state of Maharashtra. It is popularly known as the jewel of the Sahyadri Mountains. Lonavala is set amongst the sylvan hills of the Western Ghats and is a popular gateway from Mumbai and Pune. It also serves as a starting point for tourists interested in visiting the famous, ancient Buddhist rock cut caves of Bhaja and Karla, which are located near this hill station. It also has an important Yoga center near it, for the health conscious traveler.
Lonavala is located in the western part of the state of Maharashtra, in the western region of India. It is set amongst the slopes of the Sahyadri mountain range and situated 106 km southeast of Mumbai at an altitude of 625 m above sea level. The weather in Lonavala is pleasant. Summers (April-June) are mild, while winters are cool (November-February). It experiences heavy southwestern monsoon rains between June and September.
The best time to visit Lonavala is between the months of October and May. It is advised not to visit Lonavala in the monsoon season between the months of June and September, as it experiences heavy rainfall during this time.
The area around Lonavala was an important Buddhist center in 2nd century bc and a number of ancient Buddhist rock-cut cave temples can be found in this area. As Lonavala is located in the inhospitable terrain of the Sahyadri mountain range, it was not an important site in terms of history. Chattrapati Shivaji, the founder of the first Maratha Empire, ruled this area. Later it came under the Peshwa rulers, who founded the second Maratha Empire. It was finally taken over by the British when they defeated the Peshwas.
Lonavala provides a panoramic view of the lush green surroundings of the Sahyadri ranges. The peaceful environs of the town, which provides a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai city, attract tourists to this place. Travelers can take a walk along the waterfalls, the grassy abundance and hills in and around Lonavala. The mountainous terrain of Lonavala is ideal for trekking and hiking.
There are numerous lakes around Lonavala. Tugauli, Lonavala and Bhushi lakes are worth visiting; so is the Walvan Dam. The small hill station of Khandala is just 5 km away. Travelers coming from Mumbai pass through Khandala before reaching Lonavala. Kaivalyadhama Yoga Hospital is 2 km from Lonavala on the road to Karla and Bhaja caves. This center attracts both local and foreign tourists seeking yogic healing. This center was founded in 1924 and conducts various courses in Yoga along with a research center and a training college. Karla and Bhaja Caves, located in the hills at a distance of 11 km from Lonavala, are important places to visit. These rock-cut cave temples dating back to 2nd century bc and are amongst the oldest and finest examples of Buddhist rock cut temple art in India, belonging to the Hinayana sect of Buddhism. Adventure seekers can try their hand at rock climbing at the Duke’s Nose peak and other locations in the Karla hills, near Lonavala.
HOW TO REACH
Lonavala does not have an airport. The nearest airport is in Pune, which is 64 km from Lonavala. As Lonavala is on the main railway line between Mumbai (Bombay) and Pune (Poona), all express trains plying between the two cities stop here. The travel time from Lonavala to Mumbai in express train is 3 hours while it takes 1 hour from Lonavala to Pune. There is also an hourly shuttle service for Pune (2 hours). The railway station in Lonavala is located near the fruit market, while the main bus stand is near the main road. The bus service between Lonavala and Pune is good (2 hours). However, the ride is rough and it takes 4 hours to reach Mumbai from Lonavala. Buses shuttle between Lonavala and Khandala (5 km from Lonavala; 15 minutes trip). Travelers can hire bicycles on hourly basis to explore Lonavala or to go to Khandala.
PLACES TO EAT
Tourists can savor traditional Indian, Marathi and western food in the hotels and restaurants across this small town. Lonavala is known for chikki, which is a local sweet.
The travelers interested in trekking and hiking trips around Lonavala can contact the Maharashtra Tourism Development Council (Ph: 82230).
|Hill Stations in India|