Lonavala (ISO: Loṇāvaḷā) is a hill station town and a Municipal Council in the Pune district, Maharashtra, India. It is about 64 km (40 miles) west of Pune and 96 km (60 miles) to the east of Mumbai. It is known for its production of the hard candy chikki and is also a major stop on the railway line connecting Mumbai and Pune. From the Pune suburbs, local trains are available from Pune Junction. Both the Mumbai-Pune Expressway as well as the Mumbai-Bengaluru highway pass through Lonavala.
Lonavala is also home to INS Shivaji (formerly HMIS Shivaji) which is the Indian Navy‘s Premier Technical Training Institute. On 16 Feb 1945, the Establishment was commissioned as HMIS Shivaji and since then, the premier Technical Training Establishment of the Indian Navy trains officers.
The name Lonavala derives from Leni (Prakrit, A resting place carved from stone) and Avali (Prakrit, series). Lonavali in Prakrit is a place that has a series of such Lenis around it.
Present day Lonavala was a part of the Seuna (Yadava) dynasty. Later, the Mughals realised the strategic importance of the region and kept the region for an extended time. The forts in the region and the “Mavala” warriors played an important role in the history of the Maratha Empire and that of the Peshwas. In 1871, the Lonavala and Khandala hill stations were discovered by Lord Elphinstone, who was the Governor of Bombay Presidency at the time.
The President of Lonavala Municipal Council is Smt. Surekha Nandkumar Jadhav and the Vice president is Shri. Shridhar Somappa Pujari.
As of 2011 India census, Lonavala had a population of 57,698. Males constituted 53.47% of the population and females 46.53%. The sex ratio in Lonavala is 870, lower than the state average of 929. Lonavala has a literacy rate of 89.33%, which is higher than the state average of 82.34%. The Male literacy rate is 93.4%, and the female literacy rate is 84.57%. 10.37% of the total population in Lonavala is of children under 6 years of age.
Lonavala and the adjacent Khandala are twin hill stations 622 metres (2,041 ft) above sea level, in the Sahyadri ranges that demarcate the Deccan Plateau and the Konkan coast. The hill stations sprawl over an approximate area of 38 square kilometres (15 sq mi). Tourism peaks during the monsoon season. The name Lonavala is derived from the words ‘leni‘ which means caves and ‘avali‘ which means series. i.e. ‘a series of Caves’ which is a reference to the many caves like Karla Caves, Bhaja Caves and Bedsa that are close to Lonavala. A trip to Lonavala and Khandala can be combined with sight-seeing visits of Karla, Bhaja and Bedsa caves and also the two fortresses, Lohagad and Visapur. Another place of interest is the Tungi fort, one of the forts captured by Malik Ahmad near the village of Karjat and was known for its natural strength. The Andharban trek begins from village Pimpri, passes through dense forests, valleys and waterfalls and ends in Bhira.
Lonavala is well-connected by train. Local trains run from Pune at 2-hour intervals. Those originating from Mumbai along the central line have Khopoli as their last station. Buses are available at regular intervals to complete the remaining 15 km of the journey to Lonavla from Khopoli bus station. It takes 2.5 hours by train from Mumbai and 1 to 1.5 hour from Pune. All trains, travelling between Mumbai and Pune, halt at Lonavala. Before the push-pull technology, trains from Mumbai used to halt at Karjat in Raigad District to attach banker locomotives before the train started the journey up the western ghats to reach Lonavala.
Lonavla does not have an airport, though the Indian Air Force station is situated on the way to Aamby Valley City. The city of Aamby Valley has its own private airport. The nearest commercial airports are Pune International Airport at 64 km and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport at 104 km. A seaplane service is also available between Juhu and Pawana Dam, which is 14 km away from Lonavala.
Rajmachi Point is located about 6.5 km from Lonavala. This point commands a view of Shivaji Maharaj’s fort, Rajmachi (Royal terrakouioce), and the surrounding valley. Regular State Transport buses ply between Rajmachi Point and Lonavala from the State Transport Bus Stand. The Vaghjai Dari is also located here.
Rajmachi Fort is a historic fort close to Lonavala and attracts a lot of trekkers during the monsoon season. The fort also comprises two other forts – Shrivardhan Fort and Manaranjan Fort. Besides, the fort is known for the fireflies that lit up the surroundings in night.
Ryewood Park & Shivaji Udyan
This is an extensive garden situated in Lonavla. The garden has a number of tall trees – some of which are very old. There is an old Shiva temple in the park.
Valvan Dam is a Britisher-built garden and is more than a century old. This dam has a garden at the foot of its wall and is 2 km from the town. The dam supplies water to the Khopoli power station at the foothills of the Sahyadris for generating electricity. The Kundali River feeds into the dam’s reservoir.
Della Adventure Park
Della Adventure Park is India’s largest adventure park situated in Lonavala hill station. The park is spread over an area of 36 acres. It is located at about 3,000 feet height above MSL. Della Adventure Park offers close to 52 adventure activities.
Lonavala Lake is surrounded by natural scenery, about 1.6 km from the town. The lake dries up during the winter and summer months offering an expanse of green grass that is used by walkers and joggers. This place attracts tourists for its street food, including convenience food items like smoked corn on the cob, shaved ice (gola), vada pav, chaat, and hot ginger tea.
Duke’s Nose stands 12 km from Lonavla, clearly visible from the highway while driving towards Mumbai. This landmark in Khandala is visited by hikers. Also known locally as Naagphani (Cobra’s Hood), the cliff owes its name to the Duke of Wellington, whose ample nose it resembles.
Tiger’s Leap also known as Tiger’s Point is a cliff-top with a sheer drop of over 650 m, giving an extensive view. Buses are available up to INS Shivaji and the remaining distance of about 1.6 km has to be covered on foot. Legend has it that while being chased by a tiger once, the Maratha Empire king Shivaji jumped into a ditch on the hill and the tiger leaped off it into the valley giving it the name of tiger’s leap.
Just around the tiger’s leap, there is a small waterfall active only during the monsoon. It serves the purpose of relaxing in the water better than Bushi dam, as the force of the fall is higher. Also, after the brief steep descent, the fall becomes a stream with a fair amount of force to go all the way down to the base of the Tiger’s Leap. Adventurers can trek down the stream whilst intermittently stepping back on land where the water current is too strong and the fall is steep.
Karla Caves, located near Lonavala, is a complex of cave shrines built by Buddhist monks around 3rd to 2nd century B.C. A temple of Goddess Ekvira Devi is also present here.
Adjacent to the Lohagad fort lies the visapur fort which is part of the Lohagad-Visapur fortification. Visapur Fort is larger and at a higher elevation than its twin- Lohagad. It was built during 1713-1720 CE by Balaji Vishwanath.
A waterfall near the dam is located between Lonavala and I.N.S. Shivaji. Buses running on the I.N.S. Shivaji Road stop here.
This is a viewpoint midway between Bhushi Dam and Aamby Valley which overlooks a deep valley and mountains known for its roasted corn and onion fritters. This point does not have any lions but is named so because it is associated with the Lions Club of Lonavala.
Narayani Dham is a temple constructed in 2002 in honor of the Hindu Goddess Narayani. It is at a distance of 2 km from the Lonavla railway station. The temple has idols of Durga Mata, Salasar Balaji (Hanuman) and Ganapati housed in a marble structure.
This lake and Dam comes to life during the Monsoon season, where some people climb the mountain top to the Dam. This dam was built during the British era and features a serene surrounding of trees and hillocks.
Another viewpoint in the town of Khandala (Bazaar peth), provides views of the Rajmachi Fort and the valley. Also the home for the St. Mary’s villa.