Lonavala is a small hill station or rather to be honest more of a plateau to me after seeing Shimla, Nainital, Gangtok etc. However it is definitely a good weekend getaway for Mumbai/Pune Janta! This place is to be visited preferably during monsoon season when it is lush green with lakes full of water and nice waterfalls with mist all around.
Where to Stay?
If you are up for a luxurious stay then try Hilton Shillim, Della Adventure, Aamby Valley or Kino Lakeside Chalet. Nothing can beat the experience that these hotels/resorts provide. Another adventurous stay will be “#TheMachan” which has beautiful #treehouse. Else there are various other economical options available. Mostly all hotels are already booked by Mumbai crowd during long weekends so make sure you book beforehand if you are planning to have a luxurious weekend or you are up for the tree house adventure.
How to reach?
Lonavala is approx. 2 hours 30 minutes drive from Mumbai. You can go there by buses or trains. Best is to hire a taxi or try zoomcar else you will be robbed of your money :P Places are far away and you will be charged excessively. You can also try renting bikes there.
Must see Places:
#DellaAdventurePark offers you multiple adventure rides and/or a luxurious stay. It is more economical than Aamby Valley and has unlimited adventure Packages which include Zorbing, Bungee jumping, Shooting, Archery, rock climbing, rappelling etc.
#AambyValley is best for enjoying a luxurious stay with water rides, beach games, light show, dine-in places, horse riding etc. I really enjoyed my stay there. Reached Aamby 4 hours post my expected arrival tie yet the receptionist made me wait for 1 hour. Post which I lost my patience and complained to the manager. Luckily the manager was kind enough to understand what loosing time is after investing so much and gave me an upgrade to a villa that had jacuzzi in it. Must say that made my stay special. At 4 i went for water sports where I enjoyed Jet ski and beautiful surroundings. Post that at 7 I saw the light show which was kind of a drama for me. You maybe like it for 2 minutes but after that it gets boring. There are many restaurants which open post 8 p.m but unfortunately most of them were under renovation during my stay. However I enjoyed Mabruk where I was sitting next to a pool enjoying my lebanese food along with Arabic music and a spectacular belly dance performance. Next day I geared up for some more water sports, horse riding & adventure games but what I didn’t like was that one has to pay for everything separately which really leaves a hole in your pocket. Basically nothing is complementary except breakfast :P which you will never have if your day starts post 11 a.m. like me. Also when it comes to adventure rides like zorbing, rock climbing, paintball, mud-biking etc Della is way better than Aamby Valley and is also located at the beginning of Lonavala from where all other sites are easily accessible.
You can also visit Korigad Fort located near Aamby Valley. It has a scenic view, a number of small temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Shiva and 6 cannons. I was short on time and to reach here one has to trek a lot so decided to skip it. All in all I would say that I enjoyed my stay there and it is a must have experience in Lonavala.
#Bhushidam is beautiful in monsoon when it is pouring water and has a nice sunset view.
#Lion’s/Tiger’s Point, #RajmachiPoint and #Shootingpoint are some of the famous viewpoints in Lonavala which you can enjoy while having a sip of tea/coffee or whatever your poison is. I always enjoy going there every now & then to enjoy the view and misty-cold weather.
#PawnaLake: For me this is true Lonavala. I was really surprised to see a big lake with freshwater and full of natural surrounding and yet not so publicised.
It is like discovering a new world all together. You can swim in the lake, enjoy late night campfires, few adventure sports etc.If you wish to enjoy with your friends , be adventurous and economical then you can also do camping there offered by Rusticville or Thakursai. If you are not camping type like me and like to have a proper bed to sleep on and private restroom then you can try Tungi resort. Kino Lakeside Chalet offers must luxurious stay with 3 rooms and private cooks with varying cuisines to please your taste buds. Book it well in advance and with a group of friends to have an unforgettable experience. This place is indeed a hidden treasure that i share with you all here.
For all trekking lovers #LohagadFort is a must visit. During the monsoon, the top of the fort is covered with mist and clouds and the view is breathtaking. The distance from Malavli and Lohagad can be covered in around two hours. Bhaja Caves is on the way to Lohagad if a small diversion is taken. The trekking route becomes slippery during the rainy season and is dangerous to hike to the fort when it is pouring rains hence choose the day wisely. For all bird watchers a variety of birds and insects can also be spotted in these hills.
#EkviraDeviTemple adjacent to Karla caves: You can choose to climb few stairs enjoying nice weather, greenery, local shops or take your car up at parking spot and enter from other side. I would suggest walking as many times there is traffic jam for hours on the vehicle route. Also the walk is really pleasant with loads of small shops and a waterfall on the way to temple. The cave near temple is more like a dome, the big waterfall is good during monsoon and scenic view of lonavala hills was quite peaceful. But you can skip this if you have seen Pawna Lake and Lohagarh fort and are running short on time.