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Tourist Places To Visit In Lonavala And Khandala
Called the twin hill stations of Maharashtra, Lonavala and Khandala have some of the most picturesque places that holiday travellers could visit for a long holiday or for a weekend getaway.
Both the hill stations have a charming landscape with misty peaks, waterfalls and wildflowers besides manmade ancient forts and temples and offer an ideal tourist experience to a traveller who needs a peaceful tranquil holiday as well as one who is looking for a trip of adventure!
We’ll tell you of some of the most interesting places you could visit in Lonavala and Khandala.
Lohagad or Iron Fort, situated along the slopes of the Western Ghat ranges is one of the significant tourist attractions of Lonavala. The Fort was built in 1564 by Guru Govind Singh, but came into the control of the Mughals and later the Marathas who revamped the fort with living quarters, step wells and tanks.
The fort gives a great view of the surrounding regions, especially the Pawna lake and the Karla caves. With abundant vegetation sprouting out of cracks on the walls coupled with a cool weather and dense foliage, Lohagad Fort is ideal for a visit during the monsoons or winter.
Lohagad Fort is about 11 km from Lonavala and 16 km from Khandala.
The ancient Buddhist rock cut cave temples are located on a row of hills on the northern side of the Indrayani valley. There are about 16 caves and the central among them is the Chaityagriha which has a large hall with rows of pillars and a stupa at the rear. The Chaityagriha faces a vast open area that was probably used to sit a large assembly of pilgrims and monks. There are smaller caves that were used as viharas for the monks, with a monastery and more chaityas. The Karla Caves are under the control of the Archaeological Society of India. (ASI).
Karla Caves are about 11 km from Lonavala and 14 km from Khandala.
A hall filled with wax replicas of celebrities like Mahatma Gandhi, Charlie Chaplin, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, Mother Theresa and current icons like A. R. Rehman is an interesting stopover. Celebrity Wax Museum founded by Sunil Kandalloor is a good place to spend an evening, getting yourself photographed with the famous personalities.
The Ashtavinayak or Varad Vinayak temple at Mahad is a popular pilgrimage centre. The temple is the 7th shrine for Ganpati that pilgrims visit on an Ashtavinayak pilgrimage tour. The temple is a small one, but quite significant for it draws a large number of pilgrims especially during festivals. Ballaleshwar Temple at Pali is the 8th shrine in the Asthavinayak temple tour. Ganpati is called Ballaleshwar after Ballal, a young lad who showed utmost devotion to the elephant headed god.
Varad Vinayak temple at Mahad is about 28 km from Lonavala and about 20 km from Khandala. Ballaleshwar temple at Pali is about 60 km from Lonavala and 52 km from Khandala.
Rajmachi Fort is one of the most significant citadels built atop the Sahyadri mountain ranges. The twin fortresses of Manaranjan Ballekilla and Sriwardhan Ballekilla are encompassed by a plateau on which sits a tiny hamlet called Udhewadi. At the bottom of the hills is the Bhor Ghat, an ancient trade route connecting Pune and Mumbai. The historical Fort was built by the Satavanas and was later occupied by the Marathas and the Mughals, and was regained by the Marathas till it reached the hands of the British. Check out the temple for Kala Bhairava, which is said to be older than the fort.
You can either trek up the hill to the fort or hire a sturdy vehicle to drive you up the hill to the Rajmachi Fort. The Fort is about 15 km from Lonavala and Khandala.
Tiger’s Leap or Waghdari, a prominent mountain peak which looks like a tiger that’s leaping into the valley below, gives an enchanting view of the valleys and dales and the dense forested regions of the yonder peaks of the Sahyadri. The cliffs are a sheer plunge about 650 m down the mountain. There is a seasonal waterfall close by, which forms a stream way below the peak, where you could hike down and watch the mountain stream flowing past or paddle your feet in the crystal clear waters. The best time to visit Tiger’s Leap viewpoint is during the monsoon months.
Tiger's Leap is about 8 km from Lonavala.
If you are interested in ruins, this one’s for you. The Visapur Fort built around 1712-1720 CE, by the first Maratha Peshwa Balaji Viswanath is considered a twin of the Lohagad Fort that stands on the same plateau. History says that in 1818, British troops occupied the fort as well as the Lohagad Fort. Vantage areas of the Visapur Fort were destroyed, leaving most of the fortification in ruins. There are a few temples to Hanuman and Shiva, a well said to have been built by the Pandavas, caves, old houses and an iron gun made during Queen Elizabeth’s reign that might have probably ended as a presentation to the Peshwa. Check out the beautiful staircase waterfall in the fort, a favorite among trekkers.
Visapur Fort can be trekked to and is about 14 km from Lonavala and 18 km from Khandala.
Bhairavnath temple, dedicated to Bhairav, an incarnation of Shiva, is a popular pilgrims’ destination of Lonavala. Designed in the architectural style of the temple patterns of the Konkan regions, Bhairavnath temple has smaller temples with various other Hindu deities within its premises. Surrounded by lush woody areas of Lonavala and with a peaceful and serene ambience bound to fill one with tranquillity, the shrine is a must visit.
Bhairavnath temple is situated in Dhak in Rajmachi near Lonavala and is about 7 km from Khandala.
These caves, 22 of them, are another example of ancient Buddhist rock cut cave temples of the 2nd century BC. The caves are located near an old trade route that meanders all the way from the Arabian Sea eastwardly towards the Deccan. The caves sit on a luxuriantly green hill about 400 ft above the Bhaje village and are noted for their sculptures, the Chaityagriha hall with a stupa at the semi circular back and rows of pillars on either side and the cave with a sculpture of a group of women, some dancing away and one woman playing on a tabla.
Bhaja Caves are about 15 km from Lonavala and 16 km from Khandala.