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A Guide to Lonavala - Yoga Retreats, Waterfalls, and Ancient Caves

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Lonavala is a peaceful hill station over 600 meters above sea level and 96 km from bustling Mumbai. It's well-known for its chikki (traditional Indian candies) and its lush scenery during monsoon season, when tourism peaks. Surrounded by hills, lakes, waterfalls, and quaint villas, it makes an ideal weekend getaway for nearby city dwellers.

Exploring the town

 

Tranquil Lonavala derives its name from the Sanskrit word for cave, which is appropriate given that colossal rock-cut caves are one of its major attractions. Some of India's most renowned chikki can be sampled at this hill station, too. Lonavala's serene landscape of misty valleys and green hills make it a natural choice for a retreat and you can deepen your yoga practice at KaivalyaDhama Ashram. At Tiger's Leap viewpoint, a short drive from town, you'll have epic views over the valley.

 

  • KaivalyaDhama Ashram, Kaivalyadhama, Lonavala 410403, Maharashtra; Tel: +91 2114 273039, +91 2114 273001; Website: KaivalyaDhama Ashram
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  • Cooper's Fudge and Chikkis, Opp Railway Station, Lonavala 410401, Maharashtra; Tel: +91 2114 272564; Website: Cooper's Fudge and Chikkis

Trekking in Khandala

 

Khandala, Lonavala's twin hill station, is also a popular trekking destination. It lies at the end of Tiger Valley, 3km away from Lonavala. Duke's Nose cliff and Amrutanjan Point are both scenic places to take a break from walking and admire panoramic views of surrounding valleys, mountains, and forests.

 

  • Duke's Nose, Khandala, Chavani 410402, Maharashtra; Website: Duke's Nose

 

Roaming around Rajmachi

 

Rajmachi is a small village 15 km from Lonavala, which is also well-known for trekking. It's home to 2 hill forts, Shrivardhan and Manaranjan. The forts at Rajmachi were traditionally used to control the valley between Khandala and Khopoli, a popular trade route. It's a haven of shimmering waterfalls, emerald-green forests, meadows, and gushing streams. With so many natural attractions, it's easy to see why it's being developed into a future hot spot for ecotourism.

 

  • Manaranjan Fort, Behind Bhairavnath Temple, Khandala 410402, Maharashtra; Website: Manaranjan Fort
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  • Shrivardhan Fort, Rajmachi Village, 8.5 km from Lonavala, Maharashtra; Website: Shrivardhan Fort

 

Touring historic Buddhist caves

 

Buddhist nuns built Bhaja and Karla Caves between the 2nd and 3rd century BC. They're ancient marvels featuring stupas, which are shrines to residents who died there, as well as sacred statues decorated with precious gems. Bhaja Caves are a set of 22 caves, including the impressive quarters of the "Cave Master." Outside the last cave, there's a waterfall that's active during monsoon season. Karla Caves, 24 km away, contains a very large cave temple. Inside, you'll find sacred inscriptions, stupas, and more elaborate shrines.

 

  • Bhaja Caves, Bhaja Caves Road, Near Bhaja Village, Pune 412106, India; Website: Bhaja Caves
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  • Karla Caves, Karla, Lonavala, Pune 410405, Maharashtra; Website: Karla Caves