Lonavla and the neighbouring Khandala are the twin hill stations closest to Mumbai. Lonavla is a great choice for those who wish to escape the hustle and bustle, heat and humidity of India's most populous city for a few days. However do not expect a quiet or pristine environment: the popular Lion's and Tiger's Points are the usual chaos of street food sellers, rubbish, dogs and cows with the addition of monkeys looking for food from people.
Lonavla is about 90 km (56 mi) away from the city of Mumbai and 65 km (40 mi) away from Pune City. Lonavla is easily accessible by road and by train from Mumbai and Pune which are among the nearest locations.
The road is one of the most beautiful ways to reach Lonavla. By car, you can use the Mumbai Pune Expressway to reach Lonavla. You would have to take an exit at Khandala to get in. The toll is approximately ₹85 from Mumbai, but taking the Expressway not only reduces the journey time by 1/3, but also ensures a smoother ride.
Two- and three-wheelers are not allowed on the expressway. For two-wheelers and three-wheelers, and for those who wish to avoid the toll, the other option is to use the old Mumbai Pune road NH4.
From Pune, you can again take the NH4 or NH4 and Mumbai Express Highway combination.
For train travellers, there are plenty of options: Intercity Express, Koyna Express, Deccan Express, Indrayani Express, etc. Lonavla has its own railway station and most of the Express trains that cross the Mumbai Pune railway line halt at Lonavla.
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Lohegaon Airport of Pune falls the nearest to Lonavla. Apart from domestic airlines, it is also serviced by a few international carriers. The nearest international airport is at Mumbai.
A seaplane facility is available connecting Lonavla directly to Juhu beach. You can fly directly to Lonavala spending about ₹4000 in something less than 1 hour.
- 1 Bhushi Dam. A waterfall near the dam is a popular spot between Lonavla and I.N.S. Shivaji. Buses running on the I.N.S. Shivaji Road stop here.
- 2 Celebrity Wax Museum, Lonavala Junction, Lonavla Square Mall, ☏ . Another point in the town of Lonavla is the wax museum founded by Sunil Kandaloor, a 37-year-old wax artist from Kerala. Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Hariharan, Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Mother Teresa, Sai Baba, AR Rahman, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Charlie Chaplin, Kapil Dev, Mahatma Gandhi, Balaji Tambe and Yesudas are among some of the famous personalities in the wax museum in Lonavla.
- 3 Duke's Nose. Duke's Nose stands 12 km from Lonavla, clearly visible from the highway while driving towards Mumbai. This landmark in Khandala is popular with hikers. The cliff owes its name to the Duke of Wellington, whose ample nose it resembles.
- 4 I.N.S. Shivaji. A naval engineer training base.
- 5 Karla Caves. Karla, near Lonavla, is a complex of cave shrines built by Buddhist monks around 3rd to 2nd century BC.
- . Lonavla Lake is surrounded by natural scenery, about 1.6 km from the town. The lake dries up during the winter months.
- 6 Lohgad Fort. A robust climb of about 11.2 km from Malavali Railway Station takes you to the 'Iron Fort', once a formidable battle-station of Shivaji. The fort commands a view of the surrounding hills and hamlets.
- 7 Rajmachi Point. Rajmachi Point is about 6½ km from Lonavla. It falls on the way from Mumbai to Lonavla, just before the starting point of the Ghat. This point commands a view of Shivaji's famous fort, Rajmachi (Royal terrakouioce) and the surrounding valley. Regular State Transport buses ply between Rajmachi Point and Lonavla from the State Transport Bus Stand. Further adding to the attraction of Rajmachi Point is Vaghjai Dari, located nearby.
- 8 Ryewood Park & Shivaji Udyan. Adding to the lush green surroundings of Lonavala are Ryewood Park and Shivaji Udyan. The stunning gardens are amongst the favourite picnic spots of the children, owing to the soaring trees and spacious open spaces provided by them. The swings set up at the parks further add to their appeal. An ancient Shiva Temple, situated inside one of the parks, is visited by a large number of people every day.
- 9 Shivlinga. On the way to Tiger's Leap, you would see a small board on the right: Shivlinga (swayambhu). From the road, it looks like just another place to view the deep valleys around Tiger's Leap, but it has some real breathtaking views including the mountain housing the "Shivlinga". Besides, due to the lack of popularity vis-à-vis Tiger's Leap and Bushy Dam, the place offers a quiet and serene view of the Sahyadris. Like most places, there is a small shop to relish hot bhajiyas (an Indian Fried snack) and Cutting Chai. Tea costs about ₹10 per cup while the snacks would cost ₹30-40 per plate. There is a tendency, however, to extract more money from unaware foreign tourists.
- Shooting Point. Another scenic point in the town of Khandala (Bazaar peth), which provides magnificent view of the Rajmachi Fort and the valley. Also the home for the St. Mary's villa.
- 10 Lion's Point (buses are available up to I.N.S. Shivaji and the remaining distance of about 1.6 km steep climb has to be covered on foot.). Scenic point midway between Bhushi Dam and Amby Valley.
- 11 Tiger's Leap (Tiger Point) (a short walk from Lion's Point). Tiger's Leap is a cliff-top with a sheer drop of over 650 m, giving an extensive view. Just around tiger's leap, there is an small waterfall active only during the monsoon. It serves the purpose of relaxing in the water better than Bushy dam, as the force of the fall is higher. Also, after the brief steep descent, the fall becomes a stream with a fair amount of force to go all the way down to the base of the Tiger's Leap. Adventurers can trek down the stream whilst intermittently stepping back on land where the water current is too strong and the fall is steep.
- 12 Tungarli Lake and Dam. Tungarli Lake makes a very popular picnic spot for the residents of Lonavla, Khandala and the neighbouring cities. Apart from being a splendid creation of nature, this lake is also a very important source of water for the people of the hill station. This lake and dam come to life during the Monsoon season, where youth climb the mountain top to the dam. This dam was built during the British era and features a serene surrounding.
- 13 Valvan Dam. Valvan Dam has a garden at its foot, and is a popular evening spot 2 km from the town. The dam supplies water to the Khopoli power station at the foothills of the Sahyadris for generating electricity. The Kundali River feeds into the dam's reservoir.
- 14 Kune Falls. A three-tiered waterfall with a total height of 200 m (660 ft).
When visiting the place in monsoon, it is fun to get drenched and play in the waterfalls near Tiger's Leap. Bushy Dam is a must-visit too: sitting on the steps of the dam or on the rocks beneath and enjoying the force of the water is a great experience in itself. In summer, as most of the lake is dried up, you can trek into the hills, or walk along the lake's edge.
Lonavla's name is almost resonant with its chikkis (nut brittle). People throng in huge numbers to the stores to buy chikki, fudges and other savouries of different varieties. In order to savour the good quality, try to go to any of the Maganlal's chikki stores which are spread out throughout Lonavla. Other stores include Purohit's, and A-1 Chikki.
- Cooper's Fudge (take a left from Kumar's resort and follow the road for 800 m). This is a small shop towards the side of platform no. 3 of Lonavla station. Here, as their name says, fudge is the specialty with various flavors ranging from 'Choco Almond' to 'Choco Walnut'. 250 grams is ₹300 onwards.
- Live Fudge Factory, Khandala
Lonavla is a hill station in Maharashtra, and you cannot miss the hot masala chai or the vadapav (the vegetarian Indian burger containing a potato patty deep fried in chickpea flour batter as the filler). Try the hot bhajiyas along with masala chai. This is available at any of the major tourist spots. You also get hot corn at almost all of the tourist locations. While you can get these at most of the hotels as well, nothing can beat the taste of these piping hot snacks served at the roadside.
- 1 Buvachi Misal, Parshwapuram (behind Fariya's Resort), ☏ . Serves a wide variety of authentic Mumbai street food. Many kinds of misal pav (moth bean curry with Indian bread rolls) and bhajjis.
Drinking is permitted in Lonavla, and there are plenty of wine shops and hotels that serve alcohol. There is a Johnnie Walker store 'Regal Wines' in the heart of the marketplace in Lonavla.
During summer, coconut water can be really refreshing as the weather can get dry and hot.
There are plenty of hotels available in Lonavla for various budget ranges.
Many private owners with properties in Lonavla have started giving out their homes to weekend vacationers.
Lonavla is a popular tourist spot in the monsoon and it is advisable to book in advance in case one is planning a trip during the monsoon.
- Kumar Resort and Water Park, ☏ . ₹5000 to ₹15,000.
- Duke's Retreat (on the lower slopes of Khandala), ☏ .
- Biji's Resort, ☏ .
- Cosset-Comfort & Cuisine (behind Regal Wines, Mumbai Pune Road), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. Cosset is a boutique hotel.
- 1 Citrus Hotel, D T Shahani Road (near Telephone Exchange), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Boutique accommodation. Has a pool, bar and free Wi-Fi.
- Sikka Villa, Plot no 7 near Dreamland hotel, Amberwadi Rd, behind Picaddle Resort, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. Private villa with pool
- Pawna Nature Camping, ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Lakeside camping. ₹1200.
- 2 Altamount Villa, Sunrise Precadio, Bungalow 12 (opposite the Lagoona Resort), ☏ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. Villas with private pool. ₹8000.