Tranquil, scenic and refreshing (even if a tad too crowded!), Lonavala is one of the most popular weekend getaways in Maharashtra. And if you haven’t been there yet, we’d assume it’s only because of the lack of opportunity as this is one place you would want to put on your travel list. Wide green valleys, even greener hills peppered with waterfalls in the monsoon, tons of trekking trails and just all around fun make Lonavala the perfect vacation spot to go with the fam, bud squad or that special someone. Wondering what are the most awesome things to do in Lonavala? Here’s our definitive list:
Things to do in Lonavala:
1. Climb up the majestic Lohagad Fort
Built sometime in the 14th century, Lohagad Fort is one of the most famous fortifications in the Western Ghats. Hiking up to this fort to get picturesque views of the valley below is among the top things to do in Lonavala. Not just this, visitors also climb up this iconic fort to explore its many structures including a huge tank, a stepwell and four gateways, flanked by bastions that were once used to access the fort.
2. Relax at a lakeside camp
Pawna Lake is one of the most beautiful spots in the city and camping here is one of the most memorable things to do in Lonavala. Gazing at the stars on a clear night, chatting with buddies and chilling around a bonfire…did we just give you some serious squad goals? The lake is just about 20 km from the city centre and abounds in camping grounds with several restaurants close at hand. The area is also a popular starting spot for hikes to Lohagad Fort, Tunga Fort, Tikona Fort, and more… so, do pack your best gear!
3. Go trekking
Trekking to one of Lonavala’s many amazing forts or through a jungle trail that takes you through the thick Sahyadris is perhaps the most exciting thing to do in Lonavala… you have to try it at least one. Other than testing your physical capabilities, you’ll enjoy the seemingly endless mountain greenery, perhaps discover a seasonal waterfall and make your way through lush forest. Interested? Then put Lohagad Fort, Visagad Fort, Canyon Valley, Tamhini Ghats and Bhimashankar treks on your bucket list.
4. Hike up Sausage Hill
Sausage Hill is quite the landmark in the town and a hike up this green hillock will be one of the most fun things to do in Lonavala. Famous for being home to a wide variety of birds and butterflies, Sausage Hill is not too difficult to climb and the panoramic views of the Western Ghats from its pinnacle make it all worth your while.
5. Go for a hot air balloon safari
Go for a hot air balloon safari, and you’ll thank us we told you about this awesome thing to do in Lonavala. We’d especially recommend it if you’re traveling with your partner… or even your 4.00 am gang. Lonavala is extremely beautiful but when you see the lush green forests, punctuated with gushing cascades and the magnificent Sahayadris from a height of 1200 ft., its beauty amplifies. The flight is about an hour long and while your balloon is being prepared, you could gorge on food and beverages available at the site.
6. Explore Bhaja Caves
In what is considered one of the finest examples of Buddhist rock-cut architecture, you’ll be enthralled by the stunning reliefs, sculptures and carved panels – one of which depicts a woman playing an instrument that could be the tabla! Bhaja Caves is a group of 22 caves lying about 10 km from Lonavala, and exploring them is one of the most rewarding experiences in Lonavala. The 2nd-century caves are situated on an age-old trade route that linked the western seaports to the Deccan and were used by Buddhist monks as well as traders and travellers. Of note here is the huge Chaityagraha or meditation hall which boasts of a horse-shoe shaped wood ceiling crafted out of Burmese teak wood.
7. Enjoy the gushing waters at Bhushi Dam
Lonavala is blessed with the beautiful Indrayani River, and visiting the Bhushi Dam built on it (in the 1860s) to channel its waters is one of the most popular things to do in the hill station. The bubbling waters gushing down a flight of steps, the surrounding greenery and the carnival-like atmosphere – all make it perfect for a fun-filled picnic with friends or family. Be careful though as the flow of water is really fast here!
8. Enjoy panoramic views of the Western Ghats
One of the most popular things to do in Lonavala is to enjoy the panoramic views of the Western Ghats from its many vantage points. Lion Point, located about 12 km from the city centre, is one of the best and least crowded places to soak in the beautiful views and click some great selfies. On a clear day, when your view is not obstructed by the rising mist from the valley, you can see hundreds of seasonal waterfalls, the lush green hills and if you’re early enough, an alluring sunrise. Some other points to witness scenic views (yes, it never gets old!) are Tiger’s Leap, Rajmachi Point and Duke’s Nose Point.
9. Have a picnic on the shores of Tungarli Lake
Tungarli Lake is a man-made reservoir built in the 1930s by the British to supply water to the town. Today, it is one of the most preferred places for families and couples to relax with a picnic basket, stroll along its shores or go for a little swim. This is also the starting point for several treks in the area, and the cliff top is a great place to get awesome views of the city. Perhaps one of the underrated things to do in Lonavala, a visit to Tungarli Lake should still be on your checklist for its serene atmosphere.
10. Seek blessings at Shree Narayani Dham
A milky white marble structure, Shree Narayani Dham is dedicated to Goddess Narayani (a form of Laxmi), and visiting it to seek the deity’s blessings is one of the best things to do in Lonavala for religious travellers. The temple is a grand affair with a fountain-lined pathway to the main temple, flanked with smaller shrines dedicated to other Hindu deities. There’s also a gaushala inside the temple where you can feed the cows, along with rooms to stay in and a cafeteria to savour vegetarian meals.
11. Buy loads of yummy treats
Buying chikki (a type of hard peanut and jaggery candy) is almost like a rite of passage and one of the first things to do in Lonavala for most visitors. You can’t come back from Lonavala without chikki and still hope to keep your loved ones back home happy. There are countless shops that sell this yummy candy but the go-to place is Maganlal’s Chikki – the original chikki makers in the hill station. The shop is now run by the 5th generation of the family; you can buy several types of chikki here besides namkeen and dry fruit rolls.
Another treat you must not leave without is Walnut Chocolate Fudge from Cooper’s, an unassuming little shop set up by Noshir Cooper about 85 years ago. It may be a small place but Cooper’s is an iconic Lonavala institution; there are recipes online that claim to have duplicated the walnut chocolate fudge! Make a pit stop here before leaving the rainy hill station.
Some other worthy things to do in Lonavala is to spend a day at the Wet ‘n’ Joy Waterpark – India’s largest water park, get thrilled to bits at Della Adventure Park and visit the kitschy Sunil’s Celebrity Wax Museum. Got more things to do in Lonavla that didn’t make our list? Tell us about them in the comments below.