Places to visit in and around Lonavala

Lonavala, one of the popular hill stations of Maharashtra is replete with historical sites, verdant greenery, cascading waterfalls, bewitching dams, lakes, and awe-inspiring caves. It was first discovered in 1811 by Sir Elphinstone, who was serving as a Governor of Bombay at that time. It was a thick forest inhabited by a meager population of a certain tribe. The British started using it as a summer retreat. Over the time, it soon gained popularity and became an ideal retreat for all living in Pune and Mumbai.

Here are some of the attractive places to visit in and around Lonavala.

Bhaja Caves

Bhaje is a small village in Malawali. It is famous for rock-cut caves dating back to the 1st and 2nd century BCE. The caves are in Chaitya style that relate to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism. The caves are a a fine edifice of ancient architecture. At the center of the caves are the viharas, where Buddhist monks used to offer prayers. The caves are so ingeniously carved that the rays of the setting suns fall inside the caves. You will enjoy looking at the figures of gods and goddesses carved on the rocks inside the caves. The lush-green surroundings and a nearby waterfall make the Bhaja Caves more alluring.

Karla Caves

Situated close to the Bhaje Caves, the Karla Caves are as old as the Bhaje Caves. In fact, you can call it an extension of the Bhaje Caves. These ancient Buddhist caves are impressive to explore. You will love the amazing motifs, attractive sculptures, inscriptions, stupas and incredibly carved pillars. The 37-pillars to each side of the altar form an impressive aisle walking through which is an amazing feeling. Before entering the caves, you will come across a small temple of Ekvira Devi, lion pillars and huge elephant forms carved throughout. The entrance of the caves is built in the shape of a peepal leaf. The large hall made of stone pillars is carved with elephants and human forms. There are rocked-cut rooms which were used for resting and meditation by the Buddhist monks.

Tiger’s Leap, Lonavala

This is the most popular tourist attraction that has derived the name due to the appearance of a tiger leaping into the valley. It’s an ideal spot for hiking and trekking. It also serves as a vantage point to devour panoramic views of the valley. You can enjoy shouting your name and listening to it again at the echo point. There is also a beautiful stream flowing here, which makes the place refreshing. In short, the Tiger’s Leap point is an idle location for a picnic with near and dear ones.

Bhushi Dam:

This is a picturesque dam built on the Indrayani River. It is a popular picnic spot which you can access walking through the steps built on its one side. The lush-green surroundings of the Bhushi Dam are best enjoyed through the steps. It is usually thronged by visitors from Pune and Mumbai during the weekends. The best time to visit this place is in monsoon season when the dam is full to its brim and the water flows through the steps. However, getting an idle spot to sit on the steps is difficult since it is usually overcrowded.

Duke’s Nose

Named after the Duke of Wellington, the Duke’s Nose is a vantage point from where you can enjoy gorgeous views of the valley. It is also called Nagphani since the projected rocks at the apex appears like a snake hood. A small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is built on the top of this point. This place is idle for adventure seekers for trekking and hiking as well as for fun outing.

Rajmachi Fort

Rajmachi Fort was built on a rugged hill of the Sahyradri range by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It is a historical site with two fortresses – Shivardhan and Manaranjan. The motive behind building this fort was to keep a vigil on the surroundings. Exploring this fort will give you a glimpse of the Maratha rein. The fort has ancient caves and temples. From the top, you can enjoy unparalleled views of the surroundings. If want to enjoy sightseeing, trekking, and history, head to the Rajmachi Fort.

Lohagad Fort

Built at a height of 1050 meters, the Lohagad Fort (Iron Fort) is one of the prestigious forts of the Maratha rulers. This architecture marvel derived its name due to being well protected and difficult to attack. This fort was ruled by several dynasties such as the Marathas, Mughals, and Nizams. For history buffs, nature enthusiasts, and adventure seekers, the Lohagad Fort is a popular spot. Trekking at the fort is a pure delight. There is an interesting spot at this fort called as Vinchu Kata, which is a series of hills resembling the shape of a scorpion.

Valvan Dam

This is another popular picnic spot in Lonavala to spend quality time with friends and family. It spans 1356 meters in length and is built at a height of 26.4 metres at the foothills of the lush-green range of Sahyadri Mountains. It serves as a major source of water for the Tata Power Station in Khopoli. Built across the Kundali River, the water from the dam is diverted to the artificially built Vulvan Lake that also has a beautiful garden within its parameter. A visit to this place will help you enjoy a dam, lake as well as a lakeside garden.

Ryewood Park

If you are looking for an idle picnic spot to enjoy with your family, then Ryewood Park in Lonavala is the best location. This huge and beautiful garden is perfect to get some fresh oxygen and relax under the shades of tall trees that dot the entire garden. The park has acquired its name since this place was once used as a resident by Mr. Rye, an English officer. Some also relate its name to the Marathi word ‘Rai,’ used for a thick forest. The garden also offers a large playground for children.

Pavana Lake

This is an artificial lake used by Punekars and Mumbaikars for a picnic and camping. The stunning landscape and artificial lake fed by the Pawana Dam serves as a perfect escape to unwind. You can feast on the natural beauty of the surrounding and also enjoy a distant view of the impregnable Lohagad Fort. What’s more, there is also an option to rent a motor and a row boat for a leisure. The best time to visit Pavana Lake is monsoon when the surrounding landscape transforms into a riot of greenery.

Besides these historical and nature beauties, there are a few other places to visit in Lonavala such as the Celebrity Wax Museum, which is built just a few years ago, the Sausuge Hill, Lonavala Lake, and Kune Lake.

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