Khandala had once been a part of Chattrapati Shivaji’s empire. After the Marathas, the territory of Khandala passed under the Peshwas. Lonavla got its name from “Lonavli”, which means ‘city surrounded by caves’ and the town is surrounded by many caves, with the Kurla Caves being the most well-known.
A favorite hill station for travelers in Maharashtra, the divine duo of Lonavala and Khandala are truly in a class apart. Lonavala commands an exalted position on the western slopes of the Sahyadris, at a height of 625 m and Khandala is a little lower.
The picturesque drive winding around the Western Ghats and the equally splendid train journey weaving through at least twenty tunnels cut into the basaltic rock before it ends at Lonavala-Khandala is some experience. Blessed with valleys, hills, Milky Waterfalls, Lush Greenery and pleasant cool winds, Lonavala and Khandala could make the most jaded people start to feel romantic all over again.
Summer temperatures reach a maximum of 36°C and touch minimum temperatures of 12°C in winter. Moderate temperature and beautiful environment makes it a favorite destination near Mumbai.
Monsoon Season starts from the month of June and continues till the month of August. During the monsoon season, Khandala receives heavy rainfall and the place appears even more beautiful.
From the months of October to February, Khandala experiences a minimum temperature of 12°C. The place can be visited any time of the year, especially in winter, from October to April.
How to Reach
The nearest airports are Pune (66 km) and Mumbai (110 km). The railways connect Khandala and Lonavala to Mumbai and Pune Junctions. The Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway connecting southern and western India passes through Khandala & Lonavala. State roadways buses, private buses and taxis are available at regular intervals for these hill stations.
Lonavala: Bushy Dam about 6 km from Lonavala is favored tourist spot. When the water levels of the dam rises, the water spills over and manifests into a small waterfall. Tiger’s Leap near INS Shivaji is a curiously shaped cliff – a sheer 650 m drop into the valley. From the top one gets sweeping views of the sylvan landscape around. Other than the scenic beauty of the area, the precincts of Lonavala and Khandala are liberally strewn with places of historical importance. Ryewood is a beautifully laid out garden interspersed with trees that soar to touch the sky.
Khandala: The Duke’s Nose is a cliff named after Duke Wellington – it is said that this cliff resembled his nose. One can visit the place by approaching from INS Shivaji and Kurwande Village. The spot is a vantage point for observing the scenic views around. This is also a great rock climbing area for the avid outdoor lover. Dotted along the hillside are the famous caves and forts of Shivaji’s Maratha kingdom. The imposing Rajmachi Fort can be approached only on foot as it sits surrounded by deep valleys on three sides and a thick forest on the fourth. Other equally impressive forts are the Manoranjan Fort, Shrivardhan fort, Visapur Fort, Lohagad Fort and the Tunga Fort with arsenals and guardhouses.
The three ancient caves found in this region date back to the early years of the first millennium. The Karla Caves were made in or around 160 BC and are the biggest ‘Chaitya Caves’ (prayer halls) here. The interiors have lion pillars, huge elephant forms, carved representations of Gautam Buddha and dancing couples. The entrance gate is in the shape of a “Peepul” leaf through which one enters the huge Chaitya griha or hall. This large hall is full of smooth stone pillars, which are carved with elephant and human forms and the roof is high and semicircular.
The Bedsa Caves are close to the Mumbai Pune Road near Kamshet between the towns of Kadde and Bedsa. Huge pillars, lions and humans forms and a large Chaitya hall with resting rooms is a specialty of these caves. A vaulted roof supported by 2,000-year-old woodwork and a big skylight provides lighting for the entire cave with the sun’s rays falling straight on the inner sanctum.
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