The charming twin resorts of Khandala and Lonavala are a welcome break from the heat and crowd of Mumbai. Perched 600m above sea level on the western slopes of the Sahyadri range, they offer a cool, invigorating climate and are a pleasant weekend getaway. They are at their greenest best during the monsoon, when the waterfalls gush down ravines and mist envelopes the valley.
Khandala does not have a separate history of its own. Close to Khandala, is Lonavala, which means a city surrounded by caves. The Karla, Bhaja and Bedsa caves enclose Lonavala. Believed to have been built by Buddhist monks in the 2nd century BC.
Built in the time of the Hinayana sect, during the Satavahana's rule, the caves were excavated for the Buddhist monks, who used to gather here during the monsoons.
Gujarati thalis, an Indian and Chinese cuisine.
Chikki, Chivda, Fudge and Bakarwadi (a spicy snack) are very popular in Lonavala. Whether you go to Rupam or National Chikki Mart, be sure that once you catch the eye of salesman, you shout out your order by the kilo, quickly! There are more varieties of chikki and chivda than there are tourists, so try and make up your mind while everything is hot, fresh and available.
Cooper?s Chocolate Fudge and Coconut Barfi are legendary, get there early, and if you do not see a crowd outside the shop, it means that the stocks have finished.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a popular festival all over Maharashtra, dedicated to the elephant headed God, Ganesha.
About 118 km southeast of Mumbai, on the Mumbai-Pune highway, Lonavala is situated 600 m above sea level in the western slopes of the Sahyadri range.
Pune (70 km) and Mumbai (118 km) are short drives to these twin resorts, hence flights to Pune and Mumbai are the best bet. All major airlines including Jet, IA, AI, Sahara, fly daily to Mumbai and Pune. Airport: Mumbai (118 km) and Pune (70 km), are the nearest airports.
Deccan Queen, is a popular train on the Mumbai-Pune route. All local trains stop at Lonavala and Khandala. The fares range from Rs 40-Rs 140. Railway station: Located on the south side of Lonavala town. There are frequent express trains to and from Mumbai and Pune.
State transport buses are available from both Pune and Mumbai to Lonavala and or Khandala. Taxis can be hired from the Dadar T T station at Mumbai, or from any reliable taxi stand in Pune. The journey takes approximately three hours. Bus terminus: Central bus stand is just off the NH 4.
The temperature is relatively stable with little fluctuation from the norm. Temperatures usually range between 21? C and 32? C in summer, and 16? C and 21? C in winter.
These 18 caves are believed to have been built by Buddhist monks, in the 2nd century BC. Cave 12, is the largest and has a fine stilted vault. The last cave to the south has excellent sculptures, including the famous dancing couple.
The chaitya at Karla is the largest in the country, dating back to 160 BC. The massive gate is carved out of a rock face. There are three entrances to the hall - one for priests and the other two for pilgrims. A vaulted roof supported by 2,000-year-old woodwork and a big sun-window provides lighting for the entire cave.
Valleys and forests surround the Rajmachi fort. It actually consists of two smaller forts, Shrivardhan and Manoranjan, the latter containing arsenals and guardhouses.
BEDSA - Bedsa too is known for its ancient Buddhist rock-cut caves. The chaitya (prayer or assembly hall) here has four pillars carved with horses, bulls and elephants. 26 pillars support its ribbed roof. DUKES NOSE - This hill earned its name from the fact that it resembled the Duke of Wellingtons nose. It is around 12km, from Lonavala and closer to Khandala. MOHATTAS ZOO - About 12 km from Khandala, this zoo has a rare collection of birds and monkeys from Africa and South America. VALVAN DAM - About 3km from Karla, Valvan Dam is situated on the Indrayani River. The water from the dam is used to generate power. The place makes a great picnic spot and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.