All packages from Maharastra > Lonavala & Khandala

Lonavala & Khandala
The Mighty Twins
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When an extended weekend came up, we decided to go on a quick getaway to the twin hill stations of Lonavala & Khandala. Situated approximately 2000 ft above sea level in the Sahyadri ranges, it demarcates the Deccan Plateau and Konkan Coast.

Lonavala is well connected via road and we took the Mumbai – Pune Expressway to reach there. It takes approximately 3 hours from Mumbai and approximately 2 hours from Pune. Alternately, Lonavala has a railway station for those who are traveling from other locations.

Our first stop was the Lonavala Lake. It was quite pleasant to just take a stroll around the lake and enjoy the pristine nature. It is also known as the ‘Monsoon Lake’ as it gets filled with water during the rainy season, but dries up during the winter.

We then reached The Duke’s Nose, which is a unique point. The hill here has taken the shape of a human face and a stone protrudes out like a nose. Located in Khandala, this point is visible when driving from Mumbai to Lonavala. It is named after the Duke of Wellington.

According to us, the two caves Bhaja and the Karla Caves, are the must see sights at Lonavala. The rock-cut caves, nestled in the hills of Lonavala, are one of the oldest examples of early Buddhist Temple art in India.

The Bhaja Cave complex comprises 18 caves and 14 stupas. Dating from around 200 BC, these architectural curiosities lie amidst thick greenery in a setting that’s so calm, it is almost mystical.

The Karla Cave, the largest Early Buddhist shrine in India, replicates wooden art. Dated back to 80 BC, the striking structure includes a depiction of the Buddha, and a passage made up of 37 pillars and carved elephant heads, which once had actual ivory tusks.

We then visited an ancient fort at Lohgad. We were amazed observing the architecture. Built by Shivaji as one of his battle stations, Lohgad is a prominent destination in Lonavala. Lohgad means “Iron Fort”. From here we got to see a panoramic view of the other hills as well.

We also visited the Tiger's Leap (also known as Tiger's Point) during our stay. It is a cliff-top with a sheer drop of over 650m, giving a wide view.

NOTE: A distance of about 1.6 km has to be covered on foot to reach.

Just around tiger's leap, there is a small waterfall which is alive only during the monsoon. Adventurers can hike down the stream, though occasionally stepping back on land where the water current is too strong and the fall is vertical.

Rajmachi Point is located about 6.5 km from Lonavala. We got a view of Shivaji's famous fort, Rajmachi and the surrounding valley. An exquisite location indeed.

What more can be appropriate to end your evening, than watch the sun set over the splendid valley of Lonavala? After a daylong sightseeing, we had our dinner and hit the sack.

The next day, after a hearty breakfast, before heading back home we made sure to stock up on the famous Lonavala Chikki. This is a sweet made generally from groundnut and jaggery. There are other varieties like the sesame, puffed rice, grated dry coconut etc. in addition to some special varieties made from almonds, cashews and pista as well. We opted for an assorted pack to get the taste of the different varieties.

On our way back, we visited the Celebrity Wax Museum at Varsoli. Though not as exceptional as Madame Tussade’s wax museum, this small wax museum is approx. 5km from Lonavala on the Mumbai – Pune Expressway. There are wax models of Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Jackson, Angelina Jolie, and few others.

If you want to take a break to Lonavala, do not hesitate to contact us. Advance booking of accommodation is recommended as the destination is preferred by many during the weekends. Also make sure to carry comfortable shoes and warm clothes, keeping in mind the terrain and the temperature at night.



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Other Packages from Maharastra

Mahabaleshwar
The Evergreen Hills
6868 people have seen this

Mahabaleshwar (situated at an altitude of approx. 4500 feet MSL), is said to be Maharashtra’s most popular hill station. It was once the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British Rule. From Pune it takes approx. 3 hrs to reach Mahabaleshwar and from Mumbai it is approx. 5 hrs away. Mahabaleshwar is surrounded by valleys on all sides so the views are very scenic and beautiful. 

I was visiting Pune along with my family for a marriage and I was coaxed by my kids into taking them for a holiday to Mahabaleshwar. I agreed as I thought it could be covered as a short trip for one night. 

We decided to drive from Pune to Mahabaleshwar so that we could have the car with us for the sightseeing. In addition to being a popular weekend getaway for people in Mumbai and Pune, it is also an important pilgrimage center. 

Before the uphill climb, we had to take a permit to enter. Since we had left early morning we reached the foot hills quite soon and decided to visit the Strawberry farm on the Panchgani - Mahabaleshwar road as the kids were eager to do so.  Strawberries, Mulberries and the locally grown corn (corn patties made from this corn are delicious) are the specialties of Mahabaleshwar.

It was a real pleasant sight to see these beautiful fruits. The kids loved the ice creams which had generous portions of fresh strawberries; and the rest of us enjoyed other dishes like the fresh strawberry shakes, pizzas and sandwiches with cheese. After this sumptuous break at this wonderful garden restaurant we continued driving and reached our hotel.  

 

We checked into our hotel and relaxed for an hour after which we left to see some of the tourist attractions. We first visited the Panchanganga Mandir, where five rivers Krishna, Venna, Savithri, Koyna, and Gayatri meet.

We then went to see Arthur’s seat. This location provides good scenic views of the valleys and surrounding hills. It is said that Arthur Mallet was the first person to have built a house here, hence this place is named after him.

Following this, we visited The Venna lake which is one of the main tourist attractions of Mahabaleshwar.  The lake is surrounded by trees on all sides and we were happy that we did not miss the late evening boat ride because it really made our trip delightful. One can even opt for a horse ride next to this lake.

We returned to our hotel in the evening and had a delicious vegetarian dinner (most of the hotels in Mahabaleshwar serve only vegetarian food).   The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and went to the Needle hole point, which consists of a natural rock formation with a hole in between, giving the name Needle-hole

We then drove back to Pune to join our relatives and take our flight back to Bangalore that evening.  Our trip to Mahabaleshwar was spontaneous and we had not planned our sightseeing well and hence missed seeing some places.  I think ideally a 2 night stay is required to cover everything in a relaxed manner.

For our next visit, I will make sure to contact Hammock for a better planned holiday!



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Matheran
Matheran Magic
6796 people have seen this

Matheran, 2600ft above sea level, is a hill station in the Sahyadris. It is about 100 kms from Mumbai and 120 kms from Pune, making it a popular weekend getaway. Matheran is also the smallest hill station in India and is just 8 sq. kms!!

 

What I like best about Matheran is that it is an eco-sensitive region and is Asia’s only automobile free hill station. Since, vehicles are not allowed in Matheran, if one is travelling by car, you will have to drive up to Dasturi Point (4 Kms from Matheran centre) and proceed by foot, hand pulled rickshaw, or on a pony.

We decided to opt for a train journey on this visit of ours. We left Mumbai early morning to reach Neral Junction Station. From Neral, we hopped on to a Heritage (toy) train that took us to Matheran traversing a narrow gauge and a zig zag route of about 21 kms, which was very scenic.

(Note - The train services are suspended during monsoon season and resumes operation post Diwali to June every year. The tickets from Mumbai/ Pune to Neral and vice versa can be purchased online, and a month’s advance reservation is recommended. However, the challenge is that no advance reservations can be done at Neral or Matheran for the toy train and tickets go on sale 45 minutes in the counter before departure.)

We reached the Matheran station, slowly yet steadily. As soon as we got off the train, we saw a lot of ponies around and we were approached by many for a ‘ride’.

There was even some hand pulled single seated rickshaws waiting to welcome us to Matheran and we decided to travel by them. Bargain is the word!!! The rickshaw can accommodate one person only. Now what about the luggage?

There were both women and men porters who were waiting alongside the rickshaws and horses to negotiate with us. We had to opt for this as there was no other alternative. Wonder why nobody thought of attaching a cart to a horse!!!

There are many view points at Matheran. However, they are spread all over the place. You can choose to walk around, but may need to cover at least 1 or 2 kilometres between points. We decided to hire some ponies to cover some of them. The first one we visited was Charlotte Lake and it was such a calm and nice location that we spent quite some time here.

We then proceeded to One Tree Hill point and after spending some time here we headed back to our resort as it was getting dark. The resort that we stayed in was actually the second house to be built on the Ghats and was a delight to stay in.

The next day after our breakfast, we head to the North most point of Matheran – Panoramic Point. The 360 degree view of surrounding areas was just fantastic.  

If you are staying at Matheran for some more time, the other points that you could visit are Heart point, Monkey Point, Echo point and Sunset point (though you may not get to see the sunset). However, it takes an entire day to cover these destinations.

We decided to skip these and proceeded to our resort to have our lunch and leave by the evening train to Mumbai. I personally feel that Matheran is a one or maximum two night’s destination and will be enjoyed mainly by those who are looking for a quiet and peaceful place with a lot of scenic beauty.



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