When people think about Lonavala, the first thing that comes to their mind is the lush greenery on the Sahyadri ranges and the mouth-watering chikkis (a famous Indian desert made from nuts and jaggery) that are sold across the entire town. Located on the Pune-Mumbai Highway, this hill station is the perfect weekend getaway for solo travelers, couples, families and friends. I enjoyed my trip here and I am sure that you will too. In this post, I will share my detailed itinerary for 2 days which I personally followed, and travel tips and suggestions to help you make the most of your trip.
Day 1: Tiger’s Point – Lion’s Point – Bhushi Dam – Lonavala Lake – Khandala Ghat View Point – Sunil’s Celebrity Wax Museum – Sri Narayani Dham Temple
Start your day by visiting the Tiger’s Point where you can observe a cliff which has the impression of a leaping tiger (Don’t be disappointed if you can’t see the tiger, it takes some time and changes in perspective to be able to see it). The views offered here are spectacular because you get a bird’s eye view of the entire Lonavala city and the massive Sahyadri ranges. The Lion’s Point is adjacent to Tiger’s Point and is at a walk-able distance from the latter point. Spend a good 30 minutes to 1 hour here, enjoying the cool breeze and the views of the mountains while munching on light snacks that are available in the surroundings.
Next, head to Bhushi Dam which is located on the Indrayani River. An interesting fact to note about the Bhushi Dam is that it was constructed in the 1860s for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway as a source of water for their steam engines. It is now utilized as a tourist attraction in Lonavala.
Note: Bhushi Dam is not a very clean place as you can see plastic and other garbage littered around. As a tourist, please be responsible and make sure you don’t litter around just because everyone else does.
On your way to the Khandala Ghat View Point, you can see the vast Lonavala Lake and stop for a photo. The Khandala Ghat View Point offers magnificent views of the Khandala Ghat. An interesting observation to make here is that the road on the mountain side runs beneath a natural tunnel which is carved from the mountain itself (Thanks to my dad for passing this knowledge on to me).
Next, head to the Sunil’s Celebrity Wax Museum where you can find wax models of famous celebrities, politicians, and sports persons. There is a minimal entrance fee to the museum. My opinion about this museum is that the management needs to put in a lot more effort in maintaining the wax models if they want to be in comparable standards with the Madame Tussauds Museum. Nonetheless, I had fun posing with different wax models and had a good time here.
In the evening, head to the Sri Narayani Dham Temple which is a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Narayani. The entire temple is built using marble and the entrance has beautiful fountains with green lawns on either side. Many locals visit this temple for its daily bhajans. If you visit this temple, stay for at least one session of the bhajans and enjoy the harmony and spirituality that floats in the air.
Day 2: Lohagad Fort – Pawna Lake – Bhaje Caves – Lonavala Bazaar
Start your second day, early in the morning (around 7:00 AM) and head to Lohagad Fort for a nice trek. This fort has been occupied by several dynasties including the Marathas, Mughals and Nizams. It was later recaptured by Chhatrapati Shivaji from the Mughals and used for storing treasury. My favourite part about my trip to Lonavala was visiting this fort because I got a chance to relive the history that I studied in books.
In order to reach the top of the fort, you need to climb several steps which takes anywhere between 30 – 45 minutes depending on your speed. Do not be bogged down by the number of steps here because the views you get to see here, are one of the best. Besides, you are maneuvering a 500 year old ancient fort and reliving historic experiences in each step; what more can you ask for?
Once you reach the top of the fort, you can see dargahs, temples, chambers, and a stepped-well. You can also see other nearby forts built by Chhatrapati Shivaji. The efforts you put into climbing this fort are truly and absolutely worth it. So don’t miss visiting this fort and start your hike early in the morning to avoid the afternoon sun.
Wear shoes or sandals to hike this fort and apply a generous amount of sunscreen.
After you climb down the Lohagad Fort, head to Pawna Lake to relax and rejuvenate by the serene waters. This expansive lake offers breathtaking views paving way for several camping options. I also learnt from a local that the Pawna Lake supplies water to most of the places in Lonavala.
After you spend time by the lake, explore the ancient Buddhist caves that belonged to the 2nd century BC. The Bhaje Caves are a group of 22 rock-cut caves consisting of inscriptions and stupas. The stupas are relics of the residing monks depicting their meditative states. In order to reach the Bhaje Caves, you need to climb several steps for about 30 – 40 minutes so make sure you visit this place when the sun rays are not too harsh.
You can skip Karla Caves if you visit Bhaje Caves because both are Buddhist caves and similar in nature with the only difference being the presence of a small temple in Karla Caves.
End your two day trip to Lonavala with a visit to the Lonavala Bazaar and shop for the famous chikkis that are available here. You can find a variety of chikkis here like peanut chikkis, cashew chikkis, dry fruits chikkis, chocolate chikkis, mint chikkis, strawberry chikkis, and many more. Don’t forget to indulge in these authentic delicacies and take home a box or two for your friends and family.