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Lonavala And Khandala

Lonavala And Khandala

The twin hill resorts of Lonavala and Khandala are at a greater distance from Bombay than Matheran, but are much more accessible and hence more popular— practically a city suburb. Many wealthy Bombayites have built houses here and drive down for the week-end when the resorts become overcrowded. However, during the week they are quiet and extremely pleasant. Lonavala and Khandala have existed since the 1850s, but little is known about how they developed.WHEN TO GO
Lonavala and Khandala stay open all year even though the monsoon is quite heavy.ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE

Rail
Lonavala, and to a lesser extent Khandala are connected to Bombay VT by a regular service. The ghat section before Lonavala is picturesque particularly during the monsoon. A local train service operates between Pune and Lonavala (64 km; 40 miles).Road
Regular bus services operate between Bombay and Lonavala (100 km; 64 miles) as well as Bombay and Khandala (96 km; 62 miles). Buses also ply between Pune and Lonavala. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) runs buses from Lonavala station to the MTDC Holiday Resort near Karla Caves.

GETTING AROUND
MTDC operates conducted tours to the Karla Buddhist Caves, as well as those at Bhaja and Bedsa, although most people prefer to take a taxi or a taxi 3-wheeler (approximately Rs75 return) for independent trips.

WHAT TO SEE
A half-day at the Karla caves or at the forts of Lohagad and Visapur (see below)  is likely to cost in the region of Rs30 by taxi. For more hedonistic enjoyment the following beauty spots could be visited in a day, if you are not inclined to linger or picnic. Valvan Dam, Ryewood Park, Tiger’s Leap, Tungarli Lake, Bhusir Lake, Rajmachi Point, Kuna Point, Duke’s Nose, Lonavala Lake.

The most important sites of historic and religious significance in the area are the rock-cut caves of Karla, 4 km (2 1/2 miles) away, which include the largest and best preserved chaitya cave in the country; Bhaja, a further 3 km, and Bedsa; these date back to the 2nd century BC. Detailed visits are recommended and an enjoyable half-day can be spent in the area. For a fuller description, refer to Pune. There are two forts, at Lohagad and Visapur 4 km west of the Bhaja and Bedsa caves. Both were occupied by the British in 1818 but have long since been deserted. Access to both is quite difficult and walking shoes are recommended if you are going to climb the 600 m to the Visapur fort.

RECREATION AND SHOPPING
The Municipal Sports Club (tel 2285) at Lonavala offers indoor games. Yoga enthusiasts can visit the Kaivalyadham Yogashram in Valvan. There are two swims – , ming-pools—Biji’s Ingleside Inn and Gajanan Mahimtura both in Lonavala, which are open to the public on payment of a fee (Rs35).

WHERE TO STAY
Both Lonavala and Khandala have a range of resort hotels and lodges. At weekends they are generally booked out but during the week rooms are available without too much difficulty—and at a discount rate. Lonavala’s five-star hotel is the well-established Fariyas Holiday Resort (tel 2701/5, Bombay 2042911) which charges five-star prices but has all facilities. Biji’s Ingleside Inn (tel 2966, 2638, Bombay 296352) on New Tungarli Road has rooms from Rs600.The Span Hill Resort (tel 3685, Bombay 6145166) charges Rs600 for a double room and Rs1150 for a suite. Khandala Hotel Girija (tel 2062, 3426) on the Bombay–Pune Road charges Rs400 for a room. Hotel Vallerina (tel 3410, Bombay 2863372) has rooms from about Rs600 . There are smaller hotels at both Lonavala and Khandala which are reasonably clean and cheap.

EATING OUT
Among the good restaurants Bijis Ingleside Inn where meals would be from Rs125. Cafe Gulistan, The Chancellor, Lonavala Restaurant and Tandoor House are in the same price bracket and can be recommended.

GENERAL INFORMATION
Prohibition laws of Maharashtra apply. Beer is exempt, but for hard liquor, a permit must be obtained. The Tourist Information Bureau (tel 2428) is near the Lonavala Railway Station.

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