A Roadtrip to Lonavala & An Impromptu Trek

By Rutuja Bhagwat - August 02, 2019

Last month in July, I had been to Ghangad fort, which is about 35 km from Lonavala. And you will not believe, but I had never been to that part of Lonavala before (or even if I did, that must be when I was a kid and have no memory of the place whatsoever). I always wondered what's so special about Lonavala apart from the Tiger Point and a few spots close to the Market Road that people always visit Lonavala. I have a few friends on my list who happen to go there at least once a month and I wonder what's so special about the place. However, on my trip to Ghangad fort, I saw other parts of Lonavala and was truly stunned! It was the velvety green cover and the misty mountains accompanied by fresh monsoon air. I saw scenic internal roads that were full of green lands on both sides with occasional caves made by the thick trees. At that point I knew, I was coming back to Lonavala again, just for a road trip, but yes, definitely coming back!



The start of the journey 
This time, the road trip was totally different. We didn't go by our cars because we were 13 people, 2 dogs, and a cat. And the cars at disposal were only 2. So we got a minibus on rent in Pune and it was the first time we were doing something like this. The main reason for hiring a minibus was that we didn't want any of us to drive. We wanted to enjoy our family time without constantly having to worry about the road. The excitement was high and expectations at their best. We started out early on a cloudy morning and headed out on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Some of my family members were still hungover from the early wake-up call. We stopped by a coffee shop for the morning pick-me-up and continued on the road. The dark clouds continued to hover, preparing for a downpour at any moment. As the bus picked up the pace, so did our journey, with music, jokes, the frequent barking of the dogs, and antaakshari. And after a while, there was silence...well, except the dogs. They continued their fun while the poor cat rolled up in her basket, totally scared.
As soon as we crossed the Dehu Road junction, the landscape became more dramatic.



An interesting pit stop
Almost halfway through, we had a vote for a pit stop. But not like a meal break or refuelling break. Rather a detour to another place before ending the trip at Lonavala town. Some suggested Kamshet, a few were keen on Devghar, while the others wanted to do a trek to the Rajmachi Fort. After all, monsoon is the season to explore the Western Ghats in their best form. The vote for a trek was higher than other options. 
Rajmachi was only 13 km north of Lonavala town. So, we took the exit towards the Valvan Dam and headed towards the Kondhane Village, at the base of the hill. Before reaching the village, we stopped by Shirota Lake. The huge water body was brimming to its banks, after the rain and came alive with greener and fresher surroundings. There was a designated camping ground on one side of the lake, where a few colourful tents were visible.


An impromptu trek
After taking a tour of the lake and endless selfies, we headed back on the narrow winding road towards Rajmachi Fort. We parked the bus near the Udhewadi village and started the uphill climb to the top of the fort. Unfortunately, none of the oldies could join us so it was just we cousins, two dogs, and my dad...the overenthusiastic one. It took us an hour to walk through the rain-soaked track and slippery stone steps. Like a road journey, a trek also helps establish an individual’s approach in life. Except for a little bickering about the maintenance, the walk was good. I have already been here thrice and somehow, I always happen to visit it once more. The steps to the fort were walled on both sides and it wound around the exterior of the fort. In some parts, the relics of ramparts and gateways were still visible, while most parts of the façade were covered in moss. From the top, we could see the two peaks of Rajmachi. The views from the ramparts were breathtaking. As far as one could see, there were only mountains and valleys, with the misty clouds covering the top. Neither of us could get enough of the panoramic views. We could also spot the Bhimashanker and the Ulhas River, down in the valleys below. 


After another hour of walk downhill, we came back to the bus. It was perhaps the best pit stop that any of us could have expected. What was supposed to be an hour’s drive from the city had turned into a half-day trip. But the idea was to enjoy the road and what lied on the way, rather than arrive at the destination. 
Content and in high spirits, we reached Lonavala around evening, only to have another day of similar adventures. 

TIPS 

  • When doing a family booking, always choose cheap and comfortable cabs from Pune to Lonavala.
  • You can also detour towards Lohagad Fort or Bedsa Caves from Malavli, before reaching Lonavala. 

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