Lonavala - Khandala (Twin Hillstations)


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Lonavala - Khandala are always the favorite twin hill stations for Mumbai & Puneites through out year.  Though Monsoon or post monsoon is the best time, any weekend (Saturday - Sunday) is good enough to visit this place and you may start your trip after taking the blessings from Saibaba - Prati Shirdi Sai temple at Shirgaon and 52 ft Ganesh Idol at Birla Mandir, Somatane Phata. 

 

How to Reach?

From Pune - Start on Bangalore - Mumbai NH4 bypass towards Lonavala. Pune - Mumbai expressway will start few KMs ahead of Wakad on your left. Stay straight  on right side of the road and Continue driving on NH4 towards Dehuroad bypass. After few KMs, you will join Old Pune-Mumbai road that comes from Nigdi-Dapodi. Soon near the toll Plaza, you will see Signboard with Kaman for Shirgaon Sai Temple on your left . Take that road. It will again cross the Expressway few Kms ahead. Just 1-2 KMs after crossing the Flyover on the Expressway, you will see Sai Baba Temple at Shirgaon on your left. Not sure if there is exit from the Expressway towards Somatane Phata but there is merge. So after having Darshan of Sai Baba, you can get back on to the Expressway or old Mumbai-Pune Road (NH4) towards Lonavala - Khandala.

Alternately, Lonavala/Khandala can be reached by train. There is Pune-Lonavala local almost every hour. Also, most of the Mumbai bound trains / Buses stops at Lonavala.

Old Mumbai - Pune Road (NH4)

 

Suggested Pit Stops

  • Joshi Wadewale & New Poona Bakery after Wakad Police Chowky

  • There is food mall Motel Drive-Inn on expressway after crossing 2nd Tunnel towards Mumbai (35 KMs from Wakad). It has Cafe Coffee Day, US Pizza and other options along with HP Petrol Pump.
  • Toni da dhaba - Famous for mouth watering north Indian food, hot jalebis etc. 


Sai Mandir at Shirgaon

 Shirgaon is popularly know as Prati-Shirdi among Sai devotees. Shirgaon is situated off old Bombay-Pune highway at Somatane Phata. Shri Saibaba temple was established here on 11th June 2003 by Mr. Prakash Keshavrao Deole. Sprawled over nearly four acres, the Sai Baba temple has been built as per the drawing plan of the Shirdi shrine. Deole, claim that, ‘‘Baba has migrated to Shirgaon along with his vaibhav. It was a call from him that inspired the creation of this temple. By strange coincidence, the three tamarind trees in the Shirdi temple are at the same distance in Shirgaon too. And no, we did not plant them. Besides, the Dwarkamai —the hall with an eternal flame— and the Babachi Chawdi — where Sai Baba used to meet people— have also been recreated here.’’

There is Gurusthan at the temple entrance with miraculous Neem Tree at the center. The temple layout, Gabhara, Samadhi, Sai moorti makes one feel as if he is in Shirdi. Dwarkamai at Shirgaon holds Sai Dhuni which is enlightened 24 hours , 7 days a week. Chwadi at the back is built in the similar fashion. Abhishek and Arti's done at the temple with the similar schedule as Shirdi. There are annual festivals like Sthapana Divas, Guru Poornima, Ram Navami, Dasara which are celebrated by 1000's of devotees since 2003. Shirgaon has got a new identity since the temple was established.

The development work is still going on. Trust is building Annachatra for the devotees and Prasdam would be served for just Rs. 4. There is a growing curiosity of this ‘‘other’’ Sai Baba temple with its recreation of the original sanctorum. Recently, Duputy CM from Maharashtra Govt visited this temple and performed Pooja here.

 

Lonavala - Khandala (66 KMs from Pune)

 Lonavala & Khandala (66 KMs from Pune) are two beautiful hill stations and Health Resorts in the Western Sahyadri Ranges, set apart by 4.5km. They are 625 mtrs above sea level. The area of Lonavala is 30 km. The population is approximately 1,50,000. The average rainfall is about 4,500 mm or 180 inches from June to September.

Lonavala - Khandala a place where nature is present in all its splendor. Entire region has been blessed with valleys, hills, Milky Waterfalls, Lush Greenery and pleasant cool winds. This region full of natural beauty. Words are not enough to describe the beauty for this place. While traveling on Mumbai Bangalore National Highway, one has to cross the arduous Khopoli - Khandala Ghat. This is the famous Borghat. In a short distance of 8 Kms one has to climb a height of 369 meters. This is a difficult Ghat to climb. But once you reach here, you feel that this climb has been worth the trouble. Khandala is One place where you will fall in love at First Site. In fact this is exactly the reason that we feel must have inspired the makers of the movie "GHULAM" to include a song "AATI KYA KHANDALA" in their movie which has created huge waves throughout India. Lonavala and Khandala are full of tourist practically for the whole year. Main reasons for this is the fact that it is very close to Mumbai & Pune, so people find it very convenient. Being at a considerable height from sea level, these two places enjoy a cool climate. In summer maximum tempature is in 30s but in the night it cools down to 15-18 Celsius.

Unlike other resorts, Lonavala-Khandala welcomes tourists during all the seasons. In fact, it is during the Monsoon-when other hill stations in Maharashtra are abandoned-that Lonavala attains the pinnacle of glory and attracts the largest number of tourists.

Besides salubrious climate-which is common to all hill resorts-Lonavala environments offer a package deal of exciting experiences from vistas of awesome valley and enchanting baths in seasonal falls to a glimpse into the country’s rich cultural past through ornately carved cave shines. Perhaps no other hill resort can match the wide range of attractions that Lonavala offers the visitors.

The following caves & forts are worth seeing by every visitors. Every one will be awe-struck by the ancient sculptures. Distance from Lonavala Railway Station -

  • Karla Caves (12 km), Bhaja Caves (14 km),  Bedsa Caves (21 km), 

  • Visapur Fort (14 km), Lohagad Fort (15 km), Rajmachi Fort (20 km), Korigad Fort (20 km)     

Lonavala is famous for dams in its vicinity. The majority of them supply water for generating electricity at Khopoli Power House. 

  • Lonavala Dam & Lake (approx. 2.4 km), Bhushi Dam & Lake (4 km)

  • Tungarli Dam & Lake (approx. 3 km), Valvan Dam & Lake (approx.3 km)

  • Shirota Dam & Lake (approx. 11 km), Pavana Dam & Lake (approx. 32 km) 

Lonavala is surrounded by hills & valley & worth visiting are the following places of interest. However, there are not many developed view points like Mahabaleshwar & Matheran.

  • Valvan Dam - Huge dam with wel maintained Park and Waterbodies. It belongs to TATA Group. You can visit the place between 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM. Photography is strictly prohgibited. You have a free parking facility and clean Restrooms at the gate.

  • Bhushi Dam - Rainy season gives a golden opportunity to the lovers of Bhushi Dam. With the arrival of the season lots of groups of fun lovers can be seen at the Bhushi Dam. When the dam is full with the rain water, it starts overflowing obviously. The place where this extra water is collected is made beautiful by building staircase like structure. Unfortunately even this place is not left aside by the tourist having a wrong impressions and definitions of fun. So another place called Sakhar Pathar (or Sakur Plateau) is worth suggesting for real lovers of nature, which lies above the dam.  

  • Take the Sahara Amby Valley Road from Lonavala city (ample signboards are there) towards INS Shivaji. You will cross Lonavala Lake after 2Km and will reach Bhushi Dam after another 2KMs. There is roadside paid parking and changing rooms available at nominal cost. This place is very crowded in Monsoon especially over the weekend.

  • Sakur Plateau / Lion Point / Shivalinga Darshan - Continue on the Sahara Amby Valley Road after Bhushi Dam. Road is very good and scenic with lots of zigzag turns. At a distance of approximately 6Kms  and at a height of 1000 feet above Lonavala is a plateau. This is also called as Lion Point / Shivlinga Darshan point. Thick forests occupy it and it's sparsely populated. Tungi, Korigad, Lohagad etc. Forts are very close from here.

  • Rajmachi Point or Rock Garden - On the way to Mumbai from Lonavala there is a beautiful garden before the beginning of the Ghat. It gives a spectacular view of the surroundings. On the East Side two towers of the Shivaji’s famous fort Rajmachi (Royal Terrace) can be seen and at the bottom is the huge valley. There is a restaurant here and a temple close by. The Ghat begins from this point so many people come to enjoy the view. There is children's park here and there are regular bus services from lonavala bus station. It is about 6.5 km from Lonavala Station

  • Kune Waterfall point :- This water falls where water comes down from a height of more than 100 feet is majestic in appearance one can have bath in the water that flows through the valley. This place is between Lonavala and Khandala next to Duke's Retreat. This fall can be seen in Khandala Ghat while coming from Mumbai. It runs for many days long after the monsoon is over.

    Lonavala Nagarparishad is constructing a ropeway across Kune Waterfall Valley and will be completed soon.

  • Tiger's Leap - Duke's Nose and Vaghdari or Tiger's Leap are the two places that need to visited in a single trip If one looks at the valley carefully from this spot it appears as if a tiger is leaping into the valley, that is why this name. This spot is a furlong away from INS Shivaji. It gives a fascinating view of the valley. There is provision for viewing the valley from the safe confines of a big hole. A stone thrown down from here ricochets at many places and gets destroyed here. Making it as an another unique experience. 

  • Ryewood Park - This is beautiful garden situated near Lonavala. This garden covers a lot of ground and it is full of majestic tall trees. There is an old Mahadeo temple in this park. There is history behind the name Ryewood. An English officer Mr. Rye stayed in this place for quite some time. Hence this woods are named after him. The name may also have come from the Marathi words "Rai" which means thick forest. Earlier it was under the care of civil dept. In 1959 it was transferred to the State Government's Forest Department. This garden has plenty of place for children to play.

  • Duke's Nose - It is in Khandala, about 12 km from Lonavala. The summit is so named owing to its resemblance of the nose of the Iron Duke- The Duke Of Wellington and is good place for hiking. It also looks like a hood of a snake, which is why it is also called as "Nagfani" (Hood of Snake). This point can be approached from INS Shivaji and Kurwande Village.  After walking certain distance towards khopoli water electricity centre, one can see a rock oddly penetrated into the hill , that is Duke's Nose. If one come here at the end of the rainy season, Maharashtra's Everest "Kalsubai" is easily visible. A Mahadeva temple is newly built on Duke's Nose. But what is special about it are the pot holes. The pot hole structure is created because of water. Watching the nature's beauty here is an unforgettable experience.

  • Amruntanjan point - At the beginning of the Old Khandala Ghat, and at the end of the first slope there is a huge hoarding of Amrutanjan. There is a lot of flat space around here and the view of the valley on one side and Dukes Nose on the other side is breath taking beyond this one can also see the city of Khopoli.

  • Monkey Hill - All the trains coming down from Khandala halt here for brake testing. There is a huge flat land to south of the railway tracks. This place is exactly above Khopoli town and it can be approach from Khopoli as well as Borghat reversing station. It is a favorite picnic spot.

  • Reversing Station - It is near Rajmachi Point, Khandala, 8 km from Lonavala. It is known for the panoramic view of the railway line going through tunnels on the one side and the Duke’s Nose on the other. This old place belonging to the railways now remains unused. This spot is outside tunnel no. 26. On the rail route and one can see the advertisement boards of Amrutanjan and other Products. At the bottom one can see Khopoli and the surrounding regions. During the night, this place illuminated with hundreds of lights becomes alive and gives a fascinating view. The division of Lonavala and Raigad District starts from here.

  • Barometer Hill :- 2.4 km from Lonavala Railway Station.   

  • Sahara Ambey Valley :- It is 22 km from Lonavala. Scenic Drive till the main gate. However entry is restricted unless you own a property there or have reservation in the hotel.

 

Where to Stay?

There are plenty of hotels in Lonavala - Khandala. Many of them are very expensive. Khandala hotels have good view of the valley where as Lonavala is as such very crowded. There is MTDC Resort at Lonavala & Karla. No special recommendations for hotels / resorts.

 

 

Shopping :  

Lonavala Special Chikki (Maganlal, Lonavala, National, Purohit, A-1 are few famous names), Fudge (Choco-Walnut & other varities)

 

Additional places to Visit -

 KARLA CAVES

These are among the oldest caves in India and date back all the way to 160 B.C To get to Karla you have to take a 12km drive along the highway towards Pune and turn left a little after passing MTDC's Holiday home and then drive further 3km down a narrow road. Regular S.T bus services are available. From the base it is a stiff 600 feet climb to the top and it is recommended that adequate water is carried along by you.The principal cave is the largest Chaitya among Buddhist cave in the country, Being 15meters wide and 16 meters high. The most remarkable feature of the cave is its arched roof supported by wooden beams which have astonishingly survived the onslaught of elements for more than 2,000 years. The Wooden Umbrella above the Chaitya is unique in the Buddhist caves around the world. There is absolutely no sign of any corrosion. It is the finest example of the kind perhaps in the world.At the entrance of the principal cave is the temple of Goddess Ekvira visited by thousands of devotees from the coastal region around Mumbai during the annual fair falling in April (chaitra) and also during Navratri. Ekvira temple is on the right side of the main cave while at the left side is a lofty column with three lions on its top. 

 

There is MTDC Resort at Karla and it offers various adventure and Water Sports activities in their own lake / nearby Indrayani River (seasonal).

 

Bhaja Caves

Reaching Bhaja by road requires to drive down the same route along the highway as Karla but instead of turning left you must take the road on the right and drive past Malavali station and follow a quite road a further 3km to Bhaja village, There is no bus service to Bhaja but you can take a local train to Malavali station.From the village it is a 250 feet climb to the caves.There are 18 caves, twelth being a chaitya hall with finest carving in the cave complex. First cave appears to be the dwelling of the master architect while 10 others are viharas for priests.Remaining seven caves have inscription about donors.

Lohagad - Visapur ( Twin forts near Malavali )

Lohagad is 3400 feet high located 10 KMs from LonavalaIts simple trek after a brief walk from Malavali station keeping Bhaje caves on your left. It takes about 1 hr to teach the top. You will have to get down at Malavali station near to Lonavala. After crossing the Express-Highway & reaching Bhaje village we get straight route to Lohgad. After walking for 1.5 to 2 hours & turning to right from `Gaimukh Khind` you will reach to Lohgad. Turning to left we reach to Visapur. At the base of the fort there is a village called Lohgaon. From here, We can reach to the top of fort by stairs.  Alternately, you can reach this place from Lonavala. Jeeps are available from Lonavala, which take you to the backside of Lohgad. The road here is not that good and one has to walk for about 3 km. 

There are 4 doors to Lohagad from the nearby village -Lohgadwadi. i.e. 'Ganesh Darwaja' , 'Narayan Darwaja' , 'Hanuman Darwaja' and 'Maha Darwaja'. Some sculptures can also be seen on Maha Darwaja. Lohagad is not so spreaded and can be easily seen in few hours . The famous spot on Lohagad is 'Vinchu Kata' - a range of hills that looks like  fangs of a scorpion. Amazing view of Pawana Dam is also visible from the back side of Lohagad. The wealth from Surat was brought here under the leadership of Netaji Palkar and kept here for some period.

The other fort near Lohagad is Visapur. It is 3500 feet high and situated between Lohagad and Bedse Caves. A huge cannon (almost 10 feet long) on Visapur is very vital as it has an impression of royal crown. One can see Purandar on south-east. Sinhagad as well as Tung and Tikona can also be clearly seen. Both these forts are of Satwahan Era and of great importance in Shivaji's period as to keep watch on Konkan and Bor Ghat.

 Manashakti Kendra

Man is always in search of happiness but many times it eludes him, if he can get it he cannot keep it. The reason for this is he is mentally weak. A publication by the name Manashakti Mansik Path came into existence a few years ago. It is published by Manashakti Kendra, which is located at Varsoli near Lonavala on Mumbai Pune Highway.

Atmasantulan Village, Karla

Atmasantulana Village- Founded by Shri Balaji Tambe. Twelve acres of serenity. Crisp mountain air, verdant greenery, small buildings nestling under tall swaying trees. Just 1 hour drive from Pune, but a perfect spot to shuck off the harness of daily life and allow nature's soothing fingers to work their magic over you. Add to that Balaji Tambe Vaidya's ayurvedic prowess and you have a perfect prescription for health. Little wonder the village plays host to Indian state Maharashtra's rich and powerful. Prior bookings are required.

 

Photo Gallery


Karla Bhudhdist Caves

 

Karla Caves - Sculptures 

Lonavala Lake

  

Waterfall Near Karla caves

 

Way to Amby Valley - Scenic Route

  

View from Lion Point - Few KMs after Bhushi Dam rnroute to Amby Valley

  

Hill in the shape of Shivlinga - ahead of Lion Point

  

Way to Amby Valley - You climb another 1000 ft after Lonavala

  

View of Kune Water Falls after Duke's Retreat, Khandala

  

Another View from Rajmachi Point, Khandala

  

Best time to visit Lonavala-Khandala is in the monsoon!

  

Expressway below from Amritanjan Point (old Khandala Ghat ahead of Rajmachi point)

  

Duke's Nose covered with Clouds