Lonavala and Lavasa

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 30 Jul 2017 12:58:38



S ummer heat in Nagpur simply gets unbearable in the month of May. Schools and colleges tend to reopen towards the end of June so one tends to have a vacation before the routine sets in. With the onset of monsoon the Western Ghats go green and offer some of the most beautiful monsoon destinations for short trips. Lonavala and Lavasa are the ones that attract a lot of tourists. They are almost equidistant and on opposite sides of Pune. Travelling by road to Lonavala can be an experience in itself. The Mumbai-Pune express way cuts down the travel distance.You hardly bother about time as the roads are smooth and surrounding scenic beauty captures your attention. It was early June and monsoon had not hit with a bang but still the weather was cool and cloudy. It drizzled for a few minutes and again the sky cleared and it became sunny. While crossing the Khandala ghat one can’t let go the temptation to get down of the car and click a few spectacular photographs.

The mesmerizing view of the Sahyadri mountains with floating clouds covering its peaks and the valley look picture perfect. It’s mandatory to relish sweet corn that is roasted on charcoal to give it a smoky flavour and then to follow it up with chai at the nearby tapari. The usual places to visit in Lonavala are the Lonavala lake, Bushi dam, different view points like the Tiger’s leap, Rajmachi, Duke’s nose and forts like the Rajmachi, Koregad, Lohagad. The remnant structures of these forts help you visualize the grandeur of the bygone era. They also offer some breathtaking views of the surrounding region

It gets a little risky to go to these places after it rains but that’s the time when the surrounding mountains turn lush green and the numerous waterfalls leave you spell bound. These places also attract many bikers who enjoy adventurous rides and treks here. While the lovers get cozy in this monsoon paradise, the history buffs with archeological interests prefer to visit the Karla caves. One has to climb about 200 steps uphill to reach the place. The caves are beautifully carved in the mountain and are decorated with different sculptures.

The windows and pillars are still intact. A small staircase takes you to the upper floor which has small rooms and a central hall, similar to today’s modern architecture. The place is naturally lit with small jharokhas. Adjacent to the caves in the temple of Goddess Ekvira. She is a deity or Kuldaivat of the Koli and CKP community. Devotees from all religions flock to get her blessings. It was surprising to see that even today, animal sacrifice is offered in the temple to please the Goddess. The temple is believed to be constructed by the Pandavas in a night during their exile in the forest. The Goddess was thus impressed by their devotion and offered them a boon that they would not be recognized by anyone during their exile. Nearby is a celebrity wax museum.

It has wax statues of various national and international figures. One can pose with these political and film celebrities and feel the stardom.You can also visit a small mirror maze and a horror show in the same complex. Another place which is about 35km from Lonavala and that is loved by one and all is Adlabs Imagica. It’s a wonderland with a theme, water and snow park with numerous rides, shows and activities. One must plan atleast a two day trip to Imagica to give justice to all the fun activities that are offered in the grand amusement park. A wonderful time with lot of memories, thrills and heart rushes are guaranteed. After all the thrill one can have a relaxed time at Lavasa which is about 60km from Pune. It’s a manmade lake view destination and a planned modern city which is one of its kind. As monsoon was yet to strike, the water bodies had dried up and the scenic Temghar dam and surrounding area looked almost barren from a distance. But as we drove further uphill through the ghats, it got greener and it drizzled a bit.

Within no time the climate changed. The place cooled down and the breeze combined with the smell of fresh rain showers felt heavenly. One has to pay parking fees of Rs 500 to enter the city of Lavasa which is situated around the lake Dasave. The lake is surrounded by numerous colourful accommodations, day boarding hotels, restaurants, convention centre, sports complex etc. One can relax on the banks of the lake Dasave or enjoy activities along the walking pathway. There is a game zone for kids and a place called X-trill for adventure lovers. One can try driving an ATV bike or cross a Burma bridge or enjoy a zip line or water zorbing there. These activities are also available near the lake view cottages, a resort approved by MTDC. A two seater double bicycle is also an attraction for many tourists. Numerous water activities like jet ski, banana boat rides are also available.

But a visit to Lavasa is incomplete without taking a boat ride to get a spectacular view of the city. In my opinion Lavasa is an overpriced place. One has to shell out huge amount of money for any chargeable activity here. There are numerous restaurants which offer a variety of food but there is scarcity of luxurious fine dining options around the city centre. In the evening the city lights up and looks like a European settlement with colourful roof topped buildings.

This spectacular view of the city can be enjoyed by hiring an e-rikshaw or taking a toy train. New development in Lavasa has taken a backseat because of the court stay due to the various complaints by the locals and environmental authorities. Needed environmental clearances were not obtained and rules were broken during the establishment and construction of this modern lake city. Inspite of the various controversies, overall Lavasa scores high because of its proximity to Mumbai and Pune. Its pleasant weather throughout the year attracts a lot of tourists who wish to have a relaxed time, away from the hassles of the crowded and busy city life. Good for quick weekend getaway