Mumbaikars and Punekars have one thing in common – they love a weekend in Lonavala, especially during the monsoons. The hill station located in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, is at a distance of 96 km from Mumbai and 64 km from Pune. Lonavala is known for its beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, natural surroundings, and of course, Lonavala chikki, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
The little hill station is one of the most commercial ones in the Sahyadri Mountain range and offers some of the best trekking trails as well. The strategic location of Lonavala was one of the prime reasons why the Mughals, and the British alike, built forts and used the region to keep a watch on their respective empires.
While most usually visit Lonavala only over the weekend, there are ample places to visit in Lonavala that’ll tell you a lot about the town’s history. You’ll find Buddhist caves, secluded lakes to camp, dams and waterfalls to enjoy the monsoons, and historic forts to explore. Naturally, the views here are breathtakingly beautiful and cold winds always allow for a chai and vada pav in hand.
Thanks to better networks, you can also consider this hill station as an ideal destination to work remotely. From AirBnB stays to villas or hotels in Lonavala, all types of accommodations are available for varying budgets with ample amenities. If you're planning a trip to Lonavala, here are some of the best places to visit.
Places to visit in Lonavala
1. Lonavala Lake
One of the best places to visit in Lonavala, Lonavala Lake is the heart of the hill town. This artificial lake was built in 1876 and is sourced from the Indrayani River. It’s also called Monsoon Lake as it often fills up during the season, and dries up in the summers. The scenic landscape surrounding the lake is a major attraction and a crowd-puller. But the lake is one of the many places to visit in Lonavala as it’s a popular spot for boating and picnicking. Lonavala Lake is at a distance of 2.5 km from Lonavala railway station
Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
2. Tiger's Leap
Named after the tiger-like appearance of the rocky cliff, Tiger's Leap, also known as Tiger's Point, is a popular tourist destination in Lonavala. Enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding valley and hills while munching on hot bhajiyas and chai from the stalls on the cliff. The cliffs offer an excellent spot for rock climbing, and there are several trails that lead through the lush green forests surrounding the area. While visiting Tiger's Leap you can indulge in other adventure activities including hiking, trekking, and bird watching. The area is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, so, you may be able to spot a variety of birds and other wildlife during your visit. It’s best to wear comfortable shoes while exploring this point as the rocky terrain can get quite slippery thanks to dew and fog, especially during the monsoon.
3. Ryewood Park
Once a botanical garden, Ryewood Park is named after an English officer. This beautiful park is spread over 25 acres and is home to a variety of plants and trees. It is a great place to relax and enjoy nature or even have a picnic, which makes it on our list of places to visit in Lonavala. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the pathways lined with lush green trees and plants. Photograph your surroundings and unwind in this well-maintained garden. It’s accessible from Lonavala market and is in the city centre, so it’s easy to reach from Lonavala station as well. Inside the park grounds, there’s also an old Shiva temple that’s open to visitors.
Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
4. Karla Caves
Karla Caves are ancient Buddhist rock-cut shrines and one of the key places to visit in Lonavala if you want to fully experience this hilltown. These caves date back to the 2nd century BC and are a popular tourist attraction in the region. The Karla Caves are known for their impressive rock-cut architecture, which features intricate carvings and sculptures of Buddha and other deities. The caves are also home to several chaitya halls, which are used for religious ceremonies and rituals. When visiting Karla Caves, you can explore the various shrines and marvel at the intricate carvings and sculptures. They can also learn about the history and significance of these caves, as they are an important part of the Buddhist heritage in India. You can also take a guided tour of the Karla Caves, which will provide more in-depth information about the history and significance of these ancient shrines. In addition to exploring the caves, you can also enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding area, with its lush green hills and forests. There are several hiking trails in the region, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. You can reach the caves after climbing the 350 steps from the base of the hill that the caves are located on, alternatively, you can climb the 200-odd steps from the car park.
Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Entry fee: Rs 25 for Indians, Rs 300 for foreign nationals.
5. Bhaja Caves
Bhaja Caves, also known as Bhaja Caves, are a series of 22 rock-cut caves located in Lonavala, Maharashtra. These caves are believed to be around 2,200 years old and were used by Buddhist monks as a place of worship and meditation. When you’re visiting Baja Caves, make sure to explore the various caves and marvel at the intricate carvings and sculptures within them. The main cave, known as the Chaitya Cave, is the largest and most impressive, with a stupa at the end and beautiful carvings of Buddha and other deities. Other notable caves include the Vihara Cave, which features a large seated Buddha statue, and the Kalyana Mandapam Cave, which has a beautiful pillared hall. In addition to exploring the caves, take the time to walk around the surrounding grounds, which offer beautiful views of the surrounding hills and valleys. There is also a small museum on site that displays ancient artifacts and information about the history of the caves.
Timings: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Entry fee: Rs 5 for Indians, Rs 100 for foreign nationals.
6. Lohagad Fort
Lohagad Fort is a historical fort and should be on your list of places to visit in Lonavala. It is situated at a height of 3,389 feet above sea level and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The fort has a long history and has played a significant role in the history of the region. It was occupied by many dynasties including the Satavahanas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Yadavs, Bahamani, Nizamshahis, Mughals, and Marathas. It was regarded as a military marvel during the British era and hence holds the name Lohagad, meaning ‘iron’. At Lohagad Fort, you can explore the various structures within the fort, including the ancient temples, gates, and walls. You can also take a walk along the fort's ramparts, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valleys, especially during the monsoon. This is an easy trek for all ages. There are several caves within the fort that can be explored, and tourists can also visit the Lohagad Fort Museum, which displays artifacts and documents related to the fort's history. There are plenty of dhabas and restaurants you can eat at after your trek in Lohagad Wadi Village.
Timings: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
7. Kune Falls
Kune Falls is a beautiful waterfall and one of the places to visit in Lonavala, especially during the monsoon. It's the 14th highest waterfall in India and is situated at the base of the Sahyadri mountain range, surrounded by lush green forests and rolling hills. The waterfall is about 660 feet tall and cascades down into a rocky pool below, creating a stunning visual spectacle. When you’re visiting Kune Falls, you can take a leisurely stroll along the walking trails that lead to the waterfall, admiring the beautiful surroundings and enjoying the fresh mountain air. There are several viewpoints along the way where you can stop and take in the breathtaking views of the waterfall and the surrounding landscape. Once at the base of the falls, take a dip in the cool, clear water of the pool below or simply sit and relax on the rocks, enjoying the sound of the rushing water. There are also several small food stalls and vendors selling local snacks and refreshments in the area, providing the perfect opportunity to sample some local delicacies.
Timings: 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Best time to visit Lonavala
The best time to visit Lonavala is during the monsoon season (June to September) when the waterfalls are in full flow and the hills are covered in lush greenery. The weather is also pleasant during the winter months (October to February).
How to reach Lonavala
To reach Lonavala from Mumbai, you can take a train from Mumbai Central or Dadar railway station, or take a bus or taxi from Mumbai. The journey takes about two to three hours by road. To reach Lonavala from Pune, you can take a train from Pune Railway Station or take a bus or taxi from Pune. The journey takes about one to two hours by road.