Continuation of my post titled:
2. Valvan Dam
Hardly 2 kms away from the heart of Lonavala is the area from where it is a peaceful walk to the Valvan Dam. The huge Dam is fed by the Kundali river. The large water body has a beautiful greenish-blue tinge to it. Photography is not allowed.
On one side at the bottom is a neatly kept garden adorned with a wide variety of colourful flowers and other plants. The Khopoli power station sources a major portion of its water from this Dam.
3. Whispering Woods and Shivaji Udhyan
The Reywood Whispering Woods with a park has sprawling gardens, tall trees and spacious open spaces. It began to rain as I reached these woods. Without an umbrella or any rainy wear, I got partly soaked in the showers. For some reason, I decided to cut short my walk in the Whispering Woods.
4. Bushy Dam
Pulling off my sneakers, it was fun wading uphill to the Dam through the overflowing waters of the Bushy Dam but it was not easy to walk bare feet through the stony paths. Though swimming is not allowed at the Dam, a few did manage to pass through the barricade and jump into the deep waters for a swim.
Soon it started raining cats and dogs. The downpour revived many memories of rainy days of the past. It was a pleasant time listening to the blissful sounds of the rain with a good cup of tea in a nearby shack.
At one point, even though the showers were continuing relentlessly, I decided to walk back fully aware I’d be drenched in no time. I liked the feel of the rainfall on my face as I lifted it ever so slightly, and shortly I was fully soaked in it like parched earth does after a long summer drought. At times, rainfall can be celebratory and the feeling of getting drenched in it is sublime!
5. Bhaja Caves
The Bhaja caves are also Buddhist caves similar to Karla Caves with the same Chaitya style but on a smaller scale. It was another climb of half hour or so to reach the Bhaja caves through a pleasant drizzle. I understand why people enjoy trekking in the rainy season.
Close to the main entrance are some stupas, few inside and most of them outside the caves. Close by was a small natural waterfall where a group of youngsters were chilling out in the cascading waters.
The view from the top of the surrounding hills that were the stronghold of the erstwhile Maratha rulers is delightful. Far in the distance in the opposite hills, I could see two forts: Visarpur Fort and the Lohagad Fort. A trek to the top of Lohagad Fort and return is something that I have been longing for a while, but for lack of time I had return to Mumbai next morning. So that will be another trek, another day...
The return journey of approximately two hours by a luxury Volvo bus to Mumbai through the Pune-Mumbai expressway was comfortable. Beautiful scenery of green hills and vast fields can be enjoyed all the way back, however, upon reaching Panvel, I felt it was like getting back into the concrete jungle. The spirit of Janmashtami was being celebrated on the streets of Mumbai and they were delightful sights.
Lonavala is not directly connected by Air but it is well connected by Rail and Road links. The railway stations of Lonavala and Khandala have the trains from Mumbai (110 Kms) and Pune (66 Kms). Trains halt at both Khandala and Lonavala. The Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway connecting western and southern India passes through Khandala-Lonavala.