Lonavala is a perfect hideaway offering the most astonishing views of Western ghats, sky touching hill ranges, umpteen waterfalls, dense green forests and old historical caves. The small hill station is located in the Pune district of Maharashtra, in the Sahyadri ranges, and a distance of 89 km from Mumbai. It can be termed as an amazing oasis between Mumbai and Pune. It is aptly suitable for loners in search of adrenaline pumping adventure trips as well as family and friends looking for complete relaxation and rejuvenation in close proximity of the nare.
Top attractions of Lonavla – Come lets explore the best spots of Lonavla with complete description and actual facts. Lonavala is not only about hills,lakes and waterfalls. It also has a great historical significance as it falls on the early trade routes of India and has some ancient historical monuments which have become famous tourist spots.
Tiger’s Leap or Tiger’s point – Situated 12 km from Lonavala station and at an altitude of 650m, it derives its name from the fact that it beautifully resembles the shape of a leaping tiger. Legend has it that while being chased by a tiger once, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj jumped into a ditch on the hill and the tiger leaped off it into the valley giving it the name of tiger’s leap. It is well known for the scenic views of the valley and surrounding lush green forests. It is an absolute visual treat to witness the Tiger’s point covered with a thick layer of mist amidst rainfall and strong winds. In monsoons one can spot a seasonal waterfall and enjoy its beauty. Having hot maggi and roasted sweet corn in cold weather add to the fun.
Lion’s Point – Also known as “Thumbs up” point. This is a viewpoint midway between Bhushi Dam and Aamby Valley which overlooks a deep valley and mountains known for its roasted corn and onion fritters. Some say the point resembles the two paws on each side and the mane of the lion above them.This point does not have any lions but is named so because it is associated with the Lions Club of Lonavala. But it is really fun to visit this place especially in monsoons. It is the highest point of Lonavala from where you get some spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and bewitching natural beauty.
Bhushy Dam – It can be termed as One of its kind “natural water park” of Maharashtra where u come across the splendid view of milky white water gushing through an array of steps and creating an atmosphere of water park. It is a well famous masonry dam built on Indrayani river in 1860. One can view hilly terrains and I.N.S Shivaji in the backdrop. Major attraction during monsoons as the dam overflows and tourists gather all over from Maharashtra to enjoy the monsoons. Its a little tricky to reach the dam as one has to walk through slippery stones, water puddles and mud. In monsoon it is only accessible from 9 a.m to 3 p.m to avoid mishappenings. It is the most happening place in Lonavala and must be visited without fail but need to be avoided in circumstances of heavy water logging. There are few stalls which serve fresh and tasty Indian burgers (vada pav), samosas, maggi, corns, tea and coffee to the coming tourists.
Lohagad Fort – It is the majestic fort built in 1564 showcasing the glory of the Maratha empire. Located 10 km from Lonavala in the Sahyadri region at an altitude of 1050 mts. The main entrance gate of the fort also known as “Delhi gate” is well connected to the other three gates which are still intact. It was used as a treasury in the golden days under the rule of “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj“. As you climb steps and reach the top, you are offered the spellbound views of Karla and Bhaje caves. In monsoons, the climb to the top is difficult but worth attempting.
Lonavala lake and Pavna lake – They are famous artificial lakes of lonavala constructed in 1876 with the point of conservation of water for areas of Valvan and Shirota. One can indulge in swimming and fishing at the lonavala lake while row boating and motor boating are top attractions of Pavana Lake. Best spot for kids and families to enjoy picnic in fresh air and cool climate. One can view magnificent views of hills covered in tiny waterfalls. Lonavala lake is famous for street food items such as famous lonavala chikki, smoked corn on cob, vada pav, shaved ice (ice gola),chat, ginger tea, etc. These lakes are best spots for camping.
Bhaje caves – The name Lonavala is derived from the words ‘leni‘ which means caves and ‘avali‘ which means series. i.e. ‘a series of Caves’. Bhaje caves is a complex of 22 rock cut caves built in 200 BC situated 400 feet above the Bhaje village. The caves are adorned with verandahs supported by pillars, chaityagraha, viharas, water cisterns and stupas. Chaitya griha of Bhaje caves has 27 pillars around the hall with wooden beams fixed on the ceiling survived for several years. These caves served a dual purpose as meditation centre for Buddhist monks and shelter for trade travellers of that era. the eighteenth cave in the complex has two interesting sculptures claimed to be Surya god and Indra God. It also has small series of 14 stupas built in memorials of the teachers who lived here. These caves and the inscriptions are declared as national monument and preserved as Archaeological Survey of India. Bhaje caves sculptures prove that playing “Tabla” and dance was prevalent even in those days.
Karle/ karla caves – Acclaimed to be one of the oldest Buddhist shrines in India, Karle caves is a complex of 16 rock cut caves built by Buddhist monks housing almost 2000 yr old intricate carvings. it is located in Karle vilage almost 12 kms from lonavala and one has to climb 350 steps to revisit the relics and magically transport to a different era altogether. It is known to have largest and well preserved Viharas and Chaityas. “Chaitya” is a prayer hall for the Buddhist monks. Pillars of the caves are beautifully decorated with sculptures of animals like elephants, tigers,etc. The Ekveera aai temple is located nearby and she is known to worshipped by the Koli community.
Rajmachi Fort – Located on the way from Mumbai to pune, at an altitude of 2710 feet above sea level. It is surrounded by deep valleys on three sides and dense jungles on one side offering the best view of Sahyadri ranges and shirota dam. There are two caves and a Kalbhairavnath temple on the fort and twin fortresses Shrivardhan and Manaranjan are located in the nearby vicinity. The fort is accessible by a 15 km walk from Lonavala or trek 2000 ft uphill road from Kandivade/Salpe Kharmare village near Karjat. A trek to rajmachi is a complete blend of lush green mountains, numerous waterfalls, deep valleys, beautiful fort, amazing trails, flowing river, vast plateaus and village life.
Valvan Lake – It is an artificial lake near Valvan dam built across Kundali river. alomost 2 km from the Lonavala market. It is the main source of water for Khopoli power station. It has a beautiful garden surrounded by numerous food courts. It is a Britisher built garden and is more than a century old.Best picnic spot for summers but not ideal to visit in monsoon.
Dinosaurs Park – If you or your kids are an ardent fan of Jurassic park, then this is a must visit place in Lonavala. As you drive towards Lohagad fort, you come across Dinosaurs park (Rainbow land park)built by Mr.Madan patil which has 36 life-size animatronic dinosaur figures, dinosaur-themed rides and activities spread across the park. The park also has fossil hunt games for kids and activities like drawing and painting your own Dinosaurs. It also has a 3D/4D theatre, a shop selling souvenirs such as dino T shirts , toys etc and a small cafeteria for snacks and refreshments. The park timings are 10.00 a.m to 7 p.m on all days.
How to reach Lonavala : By air : Pune or Mumbai airport By road : Mumbai to Lonavala by road is nice and comfortable By train : Lonavala railway station is the nearest.