How far are Lonavala and Khandala from one another?
Lonavala and Khandala are located just 3 km away from each other, though the twin hill stations constitute of the same region. Lonavala is bigger of the two and serves as the center for most of the tourist activity.
How do I get there?
By car: As Lonavala-Khandala is cuddled between Mumbai and Pune, it is almost equidistant (Pune is 15 km shorter) from both the cities. Easily accessible from the scenic Mumbai-Pune expressway, Mumbai is 83 km and Pune is 65 km away, both at a drive of approximately an hour and a half. This is one of the smoothest highways in India and the scenery enroute the Sahyadri range is exceptional.
By bus: You can board buses to Lonavala and Khandala from Mumbai and Pune from the city bus stations. They operate on a daily basis and take upto 2-3 hours to reach the respective bus stations.
By train: If you want a journey that will etch itself in your memory for a long time to come, trains are a great option primarily because of the picturesque route! Trains ply from Mumbai and Pune on a daily basis, and most of the Mumbai-Pune trains make a halt at the Lonavala railway station.
By air: Pune Airport is the nearest airport to Lonavala at a distance of 70 km, from where you can hire a cab, catch a bus or board a train. The nearest major international airport is the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at Mumbai, which is 90 km away.
When's the best time to visit?
Lonavala & Khandala are at their delightful best during the monsoon season from June to October, when the lush green of the breathtaking cliffs and the verdant valleys come to life. The winter months between October and February are also ideal to visit as the temperature drops down and downpour also recedes. It is usually hot during the summer months of March to May and tourist traffic is relatively low as compared to the other months.
How do I get around in Lonavala?
Being a small hill station, it is easy to lay eyes on many of the attractions by foot. Taxis need to be hired to reach some far off places that are not well connected. Also, auto-rickshaws are available almost everywhere and they make a good option to get around, but make sure you are not getting ripped off.
What are the main attractions?
Also nicknamed the 'Jewel Of Sahyadri', the hill station's quaint little charm grips you throughout your stay. A great deal of lakes such as the Pawana Lake, Bhushi Lake, Valvan Lake, Shirota Lake, Tungarli Lake and Lonavala Lake are amazing picnic spots for families and friends, some of these lakes also function as dams which adds to the spectacle of the region.
The Karla, Bedse and Bhaja caves are beautiful historical sites dating back to the early 2nd-3rd century B.C. that cannot be missed. The sheer magnificence of Tiger's Leap, scenic charm of Rajmachi Point that allows you to soak in the aura of Shivaji's famous Rajmachi fort & picturesque Sahyadri valley views from the Shivalinga base will leave you awestruck at the whoosh of a breeze. Forts such as the Rajmachi, Lohagad, Korigad, Tunga, Tikona and Visapur Fort are all within the town's vicinity and well worth a visit due to their lovely locations and rich history. Lonavala houses the celebrity wax museum, home to some superlative wax statues and a place where you will have surely have a hard time believing your eyes.
Located on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, Imagica Adlabs is an amusement park which has three parks - theme park, water park and snow park, and is a must visit as it is just 25km away from Lonavala enroute Mumbai.
What to eat?
Lonavala's Chikki love knows no bounds. This groundnut and jaggery blend is found almost in every other shop and people horde in huge numbers to buy this and other savouries. The famous spicy Vada Pav alongside a hot cup of tea is a local delicacy and should not be missed. The same applies for hot bajjis (pakoras) which is best served on the roadsides.
If you are looking for a drink to quench your thirst, it doesn't get better than soothing fresh coconut water found almost everywhere. Liquor is also found in most restaurants and MRP outlets.