10 Best Places to Visit in Lonavala, Maharashtra

Living in Mumbai and thinking about the best places to visit in Maharashtra during monsoon season? Well, there's one right next to you - Lonavala! Lonavala is also one of the closest hill stations around Maharashtra near Pune and hence serves as a popular weekend getaway for Puneites and Mumbaikars both.

Lonavala, located in the heart of the Sahyadri range, is close to Pune and Mumbai. With the beginning of the monsoon, the Sahyadri mountain ranges and the ghats awaken with fascinating vegetation, breathtaking waterfalls and pleasant climate. For a quick escape from the hectic city, plan a trip to the picturesque hilltop town of Lonavala.

It is the most visited attraction and beautiful hill station in Maharashtra. Lonavala is one of the twin hills stations, the other being Khandala. Lonavala is located 5 km from Khandala. People who admire natural surroundings and tranquility must visit these places. One of the most stunning hill stations in Maharashtra, Lonavala is also among the most popular hill stations near Mumbai.

It consists of dense forests, lakes, hills, and lots of waterfalls. It is a well-known destination for camping, trekking, and other adventure sports. Tourists flock over to enjoy the adventure sports as well as the cool breeze at the mountain top. It is famous for its production of hard candy, made from different nuts mixed with jaggery. The best time to visit Lonavala is Monsoons.

Not only is the region replete with rich natural beauty, it is also home to some of the most stunning historical architecture in the form of forts and palaces. Lakes, forts, dams, museums and resorts galore, Lonavala is one of the most uniquely diverse hill stations in Maharashtra.

Besides, as it is located in the mighty Sahyadri Mountains, there are a ton of rugged mountain activities like hiking, trekking, camping, and exploring the wilderness. Moreover, there are a number of forts that are testimonies to the glorious past of the Maratha Empire – Rajmachi, Lohagad, Visapur, Tikona, Tunga, and many more pieces of unexplored history.

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Here in this article, we have discussed some of the popular tourist attractions in Lonavala:

1. Tiger Point

Lonavala Tiger's Leap is part of a wide-open cliff, a few meters away from the Lonavala - Aamby Valley road. It is in the lap of nature at 650 meters above sea level. It is named so on its shape that it resembles a tiger leaping into the valley. It presents a panoramic view of the hills and Western ghats. There is a small waterfall just around the Tiger's Leap that is active only during the monsoons.

The sunrise and sunset seen from here are fascinating. The tourists love to relax in the water and admire the surrounding valley. The echo point is the major attraction in Tiger’s Leap. It is also a good destination for hiking and trekking. Enjoy the expansive view of a stream flowing at the top of the cliff called The Tiger point.

2. Bhaja Buddhist Caves

The Bhaja Caves are one of the oldest caves in India and date back to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism. It is one of the well-known Buddhist caves of the Hinayana faith. It is a group of 22 rock-cut Buddhist caves, being the best rock-cut architecture of all time. One can travel back in time on this trip to ancient Indian rock-cut caves.

The caves are 400 feet on an early trade route above the village of Bhaja. This cave can be reached by cab or walk from Lohagad. The Bhaja caves have other monasteries of simple halls and verandah. The remarkable feature of the caves is its groups of 14 stupas, which enfold an irregular excavation.

One can explore the caves that primarily include Chaityas and Viharas, apart from taking a tour of the lush surroundings and a refreshing dip in the nearby waterfalls. Everything seems to be done to make as tangible as possible a construction frozen in stone.

3. Karla Buddha Caves

Enjoy the tranquility of the Karla caves built by Buddhist monks around the third-second century BC. It is among the well-known historical places to visit near Mumbai and Pune. It houses the largest and most well-preserved Hinayana Buddhist Chaitya in the country. The cave is nearly 100 meters high on the north flank of the Indrayani valley. It has 16 rock-cut excavations.

The caves also house a Buddhist monastery that was home to two 15-meter grand pillars. The excellent motifs, sculptures, inscriptions, stupas, and pillars astound everyone. The Karla And Bhaja Caves near Mumbai and the Bedse Caves are natural caves carved into rock walls. They were enlarged and individually arranged from the top to the base, a technique that avoids the use of scaffolding.

The natural caves also offer an ideal panorama that allows to see in the distance and to be visible. Like most sites carefully chosen by the Buddhist community, these caves have the advantage of being close to rivers, essential to the survival of the community. From an architectural point of view, these rock ensembles are an invaluable treasure.

Entirely made of stone, the Chaitya halls - destined to house the object of worship and the vihara, dwellings of the monks - faithfully copy the wooden architecture of a very distant time of which no constructed example has come down to us. Details as precise as the beams and rafters abound to the point of creating doubts in the viewer.

But the trompe-l'oeil art reaches its peak on the facades of the caves, where a multitude of false wooden balconies inspired by palace architecture, animated by characters in full conciliabule give the impression of a great depth. Another fundamental element of Indian architecture is thegavaksa, kudu or Indian arc reproduced ad infinitum accentuates this false sensation of depth.

4. Bhushi Dam

It is a masonry dam on the Indrayani River, located at a distance of 6 km from the Lonavala railway station. This dam served as a source of water for the steam engines of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. The dam water is also used for power generation. It is a well-known tourist attraction during the monsoons. There is a famous waterfall near the Bhushi dam, which is a very popular place for all monsoon lovers.

It is a perfect picnic spot to spend quality time with friends and family. One can sit and soak the warm sunshine as well as enjoy the serene views of the surroundings.

5. Pawna Lake

Pawna Lake is a popular picnic and camping spot in Lonavala, surrounded by spectacular landscape. The enclosed water of Pawna Dam forms this artificial lake and provides a beautiful escape into nature. The sunrise at this place is splendid and enhances the true beauty and colors of nature. Pawna Lake camping also fascinates many tourists to visit this place.

The camp offers fun games and activities which include horse riding, fort trekking, paragliding, etc. One can also avail of the facility of motor and row boating that adds to its overall appeal. Monsoon is the perfect time to visit this place.

6. Rajmachi Point

Rajmachi Fort is a different getaway for hikers, nature lovers and travelers arriving in Maharashtra. Rajmachi Fort is an ancient fort situated at a distance of 15 km from Lonavala. It lies at an altitude of 2710 feet and used to control Bor Ghat, which was a historical trade route. The twin fort of Rajmachi is well-known for its brilliant architecture.

Huge ramparts, massive gateways, strong walls, and water reservoirs constitute the complex of the fort. This region is more beautiful in monsoons with several waterfalls, streams, and lush green forests. Long treks and camping are two of the best things to do in Rajmachi. From there you can enjoy an incredible view of the Sahyadri mountains and the Shirota dam.

In addition, beyond this area, flying over the Ulhas River you can find the Rajmachi Base Camp. The fort is located in Udhewadi, a local village whose families warmly welcome travelers and offer local cuisine. There are treks that can be hired in Pune to discover the Fort, the Caves and other places in the area.

As an example you have the Rajmachi Night Trek. It mainly consists of a 18 km night route through a thick and humid forest, where the views are spectacular late in the afternoon and at dawn. In addition, a special atmosphere is created because you go through it listening and seeing different types of forest animals, or fireflies twinkling around you.

7. Ryewood Park

Ryewood Park is an old park in Lonavala and is famous for its well-maintained gardens. Earlier, Ryewood park was a botanical garden and now took the shape of an amusement park. There are different varieties of trees found in this park. One can play outdoor games in the stretched lush green gardens of this park.

It also allows entry of dogs for having a good time, unlike other parks where dogs aren't allowed. This park is visited extensively throughout the year, irrespective of any season.

8. Lohagad Fort

The Lohagad Fort is a UNESCO world heritage site situated at 3400 feet. This destination is the perfect union of ancient architecture and natural beauty. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj used to keep his treasury in this fort made of iron. This fort is 1033 meters above sea level. It offers lush green beauty, an adventurous trekking route, and panoramic views.

9. Tikona fort

Tikona fort is renowned as Vitandgad fort and is a well-known historical site of the Maratha empire. It was the center for many activities of the entire Maval Pawna region. The fort’s gigantic entrance is a great attraction. Pawna lake, Satavahana caves, and the temple of Trimbakeshwar Mahadev enclose the fort. There is a temple on the peak with few water tanks and a Buddhist cave. Adventurous tourists come here for trekking.

10. Dukes Nose

Duke's Nose, named after the Duke of Wellington because of the similarity in shape. It is 7 km from Lonavala. It offers a panoramic view of the Sahyadri Ranges, the dense forests, and the splendid valleys. The long trails and rocky outcrops attract tourists for trekking, rock climbing, hiking, etc. It is an ideal picnic spot for tourists.

There is a Mahadev Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at the top. It is also named Nagphani because its shape looks like a snake’s hood. It is also a beautiful vantage point due to its high altitude.

Kalyan Panja