OT Travel Itinerary: Your Two-Day Guide To Lonavala

The monsoons are the best time to visit the hill station of Lonavala. Here's what you should do there if you have a weekend to spare
Lonavala is a hill station surrounded by green valleys in western India near Mumbai
Lonavala is a hill station surrounded by green valleys in western India near MumbaiUnsplash

Lonavala is a popular hill station which truly reaches its peak popularity during the rainy season. Visitors have a plethora of attractions to choose from when they visit, such as the ancient Buddhist caves of Karla and Bhaja, viewpoints like Tiger’s Leap, and the military bastion of Lohagad Fort. The town is particularly well-regarded for its production of the hard candy chikki.

Here’s your two-day guide to Lonavala during the magical monsoon season.

Day 1

Morning

Kune Falls in Lonavala
Kune Falls in Lonavalamr.somnathchowdhury/Instagram

The Kune Falls cascade among lush greenery and are a beautiful sight throughout the year. However, the monsoon season brings a certain vividness and aliveness to the scene that you cannot miss out on. The 60m falls rush down in three tiers. A morning spent here will refresh you in the best possible way.

Next, head to Lonavala Lake. This spot is perfect for a picnic by the shore, and is best visited when the heavens open. There are food stalls nearby so all you have to do is show up, sit down, eat, enjoy the beauty of the landscape and keep an eye out for birds. You can go swimming if you want to.

Afternoon

Bruce Lee (right) at Sunil's Celebrity Wax Museum in Lonavala
Bruce Lee (right) at Sunil's Celebrity Wax Museum in LonavalaSwarupDukuria/Tripadvisor

Time to go to Ryewood Garden. This botanical garden turned public park is perfect for a stroll where you can admire the trees, wildlife and flower beds. There is a children’s play area to keep them busy. The smell of petrichor is delicious to the senses and you can while away a wonderful afternoon after lunch here.

Once you have had your fill of Ryewood Garden, check out a celebrity wax museum. It houses nearly 100 wax statues in the style of the iconic Madame Tussauds. Kapil Dev, Kareena Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Sunil Gavaskar, Michael Jackson and Narendra Modi are just some of the famous figures you can encounter here. Take selfies with the statues and make silly poses.

Evening

Pawna Lake
Pawna LakeSharadsy/Wikimedia Commons

Your final stop of the day should be Pawna Lake. This is a reservoir-turned-artificial lake formed by the Pawna Dam. It’s a great picnic and camping spot for visitors, which means you can have your fill of the monsoon rains throughout the night. See the splendour of the sunset, cut across the rippling waters in a kayak or see the view from above through a zipline. At the end of the day, the stars may or may not be out due to cloud cover but your time here will be a memorable experience nonetheless.

Day 2

Morning

The Kondana vihara
The Kondana viharaKevin Standage/Wikimedia Commons

Time to hit the trails. Walk the Rajmachi Trek, which starts from Kondiwade Village and is 13km long. Alternatively, the distance shortens to around 3.5 km long if you begin it from the Udhewadi side. You will see the Shrivardhan and Manaranjan forts from where you can enjoy panoramic views; they are collectively called Rajmachi Fort. As you walk through the thick forest you will begin to appreciate the natural beauty of the place.

If you have time left over in the morning after the trek then visit the Kondana Caves, which lie 16km from the iconic Karla Caves. The group of 16 Buddhist caves highlight the craftsmanship of early Buddhist architecture. The chaitya cave is the largest and most impressive as it has a spacious hall with 30 pillars that surround a circular stupa at the end. Visitors can go to the Kondana Caves throughout the year but the monsoon season is the only time when they can see small waterfalls flow from this site.

Afternoon

The Shree Narayani Dham Temple sprawls over 4.5 acres
The Shree Narayani Dham Temple sprawls over 4.5 acresShreenarayanidhamlonavala/Facebook

Check out the Shree Narayani Dham Temple next. Sprawling over 4.5 acres of land, the complex houses idols of Durga, Siddhivinayak and Hanuman. The place has luxury cottages for devotees travelling in big groups, a community hall for events, a dining hall where people can receive prasad, a cowshed which looks after 40 ungulates, a children’s playground and even a library. Perhaps the best thing about this complex is its rose garden, which have been sourced from Kashmir. Stop here for a relaxing afternoon.

Afterwards, visit the local markets of Lonavala to buy chikkis from Maganlal and Sons, delicious chocolate fudge from Cooper’s Fudges and Chikkis, and gift items from Bakerally and Sons.

Evening

The Lion's Point lookout
The Lion's Point lookoutHeath Cajandig/Wikimedia Commons

Wrap up your trip to Lonavala with a sunset viewing at Lion’s Point. This lookout has some of the best views of the Sahyadris along with street food vendors to satisfy your cravings. Visitors will be able to see Tungarli Lake and Bhushi Dam, among other sights. During the monsoon, dozens of waterfalls gush from its jagged rocks.

Where To Stay

Live in luxury at The Fern and Rhythm Lonavala. Budget-conscious travellers should consider the Hotel Om Palace and Hotel Dean Villa. Backpackers should consider the Kevaru Homestay or the Seasons Homestay.

Getting There

Pune Airport (PNQ) is 68km from Lonavala. Trains stop at the Lonavala Railway Station (LNL). There are buses and taxis from Mumbai and Pune to the hill station, too.

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