What once used to be a quaint hilly town in the heart of the Sahyadri Mountains on the Western Ghats is a bustling tourist destination. Perched atop 2000 feet, Lonavala with its verdant environment, clear lakes, and adventure options, definitely makes for a respite from the urban chaos. But the real charm of this Jewel of Sahyadri is more in its approach than the place itself and that is why you will find this name in the list of ‘best weekend getaways’ for travellers from its neighbouring metros of Mumbai and Pune. If you are in or around Pune and planning a trip to Lonavala, read on for a complete guide to a memorable trip.
First and Foremost, Choose Your Ride
While there are plenty of public transportation options like buses and trains plying between Pune and Lonavala, a car ride can yield a very different travel experience. If you want to drive, it is great. But if you want to sit back, roll down the windows, and enjoy the views, then opt for a rental. You can rent a car in Pune with an experienced driver so you don’t have to worry about a thing on the road like refuelling, tolls, and not missing the right exits. Just inform your driver about your travel itinerary in advance and let him zoom through the highway.
Secondly, Pick Your Travel Time
Because, when you are on a vacation, the last thing you want to do is sit in the traffic. While the Mumbai-Pune Expressway has saved a lot of travel time and traffic, there are high chances of congestion on weekend mornings, public holidays, or late nights, due to long-distance trucks en route. To be on a safer side, always start around daybreak. And if you start early, you can always stop at interesting places on the way.
Thirdly, Make The Most of Your Journey
When you have a car at your disposal, then why not optimize it? The taxi fare from Pune to Lonavala is economical, by all means, and even if you add a couple of destinations en route, you will not be burning your pockets. Although your travel time will increase by a few hours (average is three), you would have explored new places, or have had a different kind of journey. Here are a few ideas for pit stops between Pune and Lonavala.
If you are a Punekar, then you would be familiar with Kamshet. But how many times have you thought of stopping over on this vast plateau region and watch the pro paragliders in action? Or even try your hands at the sport, for that matter? For those who are new to Pune or this region, Kamshet boasts one of the best grounds for paragliding in India. The flat grasslands atop the mountains make for clear take-off and landing. There are certified mentors who run paragliding training centres and offer rides for tourists. Besides the adventure, Kamshet is a fantastic place to catch a panoramic view of the Western Ghats.
If you are starting for Lonavala in the evening, don’t just head to the hill station directly. Take a detour for Pawna Lake and make a stop at their camping grounds. We promise it would be worth the time and the effort. As the sun goes down, especially in the winter months, the scarlet evening is followed by a dark blue sky with millions of sparkling stars covering the horizon. You will find a lot of star-gazers and backpackers laying on the ground, watching this ethereal beauty- a sight we will never get to experience from our city apartments! In case you cannot make it at night, you can still stop here at day time for a quick break. The catchment area of the Pawna Dam is surrounded by lush greenery and being at a height, always remains cool and pleasant throughout the year. You can explore the lake on a boat, spend some time bird-watching, or simply enjoy the scenic views.
If you are a trekking enthusiast or someone with a deep interest in relics, then you must make a stop at this fort area. The ancient fortress sits on a cliff in the Rajmachi village, between Lonavala and Khandala. To reach the village, you need to take the east exit from the highway. There are a few trek routes that start from the village at the base of the hill. You can either walk up to the fort or take the car all the way to the nearest viewpoint. If you can somehow manage to reach the top, you can enjoy an aerial view of the Duke’s Nose Peak overlooking the Bhimashanker and Ulhas rivers.
This 10.600 acres of planned township definitely calls for a tour. With huge man-made lakes, lavish villas, a plush golf course, and fancy adventures, this luxurious retreat is a treat for the eyes. And after such intriguing breaks, when you finally land in Lonavala, you would have had a fulfilling journey!