The Jewel of Sahyadris – Lonavala

13.11.2016:

Discovered in 1871 by Sir Elphinstone, the Governor of the Bombay Presidency, Lonavala lives up to its name, which means ‘city surrounded by caves’. One of the most famous hill stations known for it’s lakes and breath-taking views is also well known for it’s chikki and fudge, Lonavala is a must visit place for every tourist or adventure-lover. If I have had enough time with me, I would have definitely gone for a trek around one of the circuits here, but as time is a constraint now for me, I would just go around for this time!! Come, soak along with me in the beauty of this place πŸ™‚

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14.20 hrs – The plan is to explore Lonavala first and then proceed to Khandala. We kick started our journey and proceeded to one of the most famous tourist point of Lonavala called the ‘Lions Point’. Now don’t ask me why was it named so? Β πŸ˜€ . Lonavla – Known as the ‘Jewel of Sahyadris’, is a perfect choice for a quick visit that to if you have got less time with you. A hot spot for Mumbaikars and Pune-ites, Lonavla is the most popular weekend gateway. Whenever we think of Maharashtra, the first thing that strike our minds will be Khandala and Lonavala as both Bollywood and Tollywood has romanticized this place for a very long time πŸ™‚

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The up-hill road is narrow and curvy and it took us around 30 mins to reach the Lions Point. We started walking toward the cliff and the beauty in front of us is beyond description. This point gives us a panoramic view of the entire valley and hills and a few waterfalls. Though this time or season is not the right time to visit this place, I will leave the beauty of this place during monsoons to one’s own imagination. Well-known for it’s weather, Lonavala is really an ideal place to break free all our worries and fall in love with the nature.

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We have gone around the area and looked around the area on the other side of the road too! It too gives some fantastic views. Our next stop is the Bushi Dam that was mentioned by my cousin to us earlier. One has to walk for 10 minutes in order to reach the dam. It was almost dry except for the water in the reservoir. Another 3 min walk from the dam would take you to the reservoir where one can sit with their feet being washed with the cool waters. This would be definitely a hot-spot during the monsoons as the water gushes down and the place is ideal to play as it’s not too steep or dangerous.Β And I heard many of my Mumbai friends saying thatΒ theyΒ love to throng at Bhushi dam, where water runs over the steps of the dam, creating a beautiful waterfall.

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The third spot is the Lonavala Lake and again there was no much water and we just walked down for some distance and resumed our journey. The fourth point that was included in my driver’s listΒ is a children’s park and we turned it down :-p . Though we were a bit disappointed as most of the places were dry and looked like some routine places, I could very well imagine how beautiful this place would be in the monsoon. So, it was decided, Mythri and I would be visiting this place again, that too during one of the monsoons πŸ™‚

Khandala is waiting!!

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Demonetization – A realization ;-)

13.11.2016:

10.05 hrs – Here we are, at the Lonavla junction! Kaka dropped us here after giving his mobile number, if we need any help and giving us some info about the places to visit as well as how to get a vehicle to go around and things like that. We bid a bye to kaka and the first thing that came to our notice are the Chikki shops around the place. As far as my eye sight goes, the only shops which I can see are the chikki shops.

Chikki is a candy made up of jaggery and peanuts usually. But people do prepare these candies with other stuff like sesame, chana dal (chick-peas) etc. And Lonavla is famous for it’s chikki. Don’t forget to buy some when you visit this place next time πŸ™‚ . Kaka asked us to inquire with the auto-rickshaw people to go around the places and he told that usually they charge Rs. 500 to 600 for a trip. When we approached an auto driver and inquired, he asked us to pay him Rs. 1200, exactly double the amount which Kaka told us!

10.40 hrs – After a good bargain, he reduced the fare to Rs. 800 and it was only at this point of time did we realize that we are left only with Rs. 600. The next question to the driver is “Brother, are there any ATMs near by?” and the reply is “Lot of ATMs, but no cash in them” 😦 . Only then did we realize the gravity of the situation, that we were left only with Rs.600 and we still have a long way to go. So, it was decided that we would be sacrificing the plan of going around these beautiful hill-stations Khandala and Lonavla, for the sake of pumping few more bucks into our wallets 😦

11.00 hrs – We asked the auto driver about AXIS Bank, coz this is the only bank which don’t require a pass-book to withdrew money and he told us that it’s a 10 min walk from there. We walked towards the bank only to hear the answer that there was no cash available with the bank. We wanted to give a last try. If we could get some money from the ATM of State Bank of India, we would go around here or otherwise we would be heading directly to Pune. We reached the bank and there were 3 queues with some 100 people in each of them waiting for their turn either to deposit the old bank notes, or to withdraw money from the bank or from the ATM.

11.30 hrs – We too stood in the ATM queue and waited for our turn. The twist in the story was that the ATM was closed, none knows when it is going to be opened or is it going to be opened at all? It’s just a hope that it would open sometime πŸ˜€ . When inquired about the same with the security guard, he always used to show me his index finger and the middle finger! I could never understand, what it meant, I mean is it that the ATM opens at 02.00 PM or in another 2 hours! Waited for another hour in the queue till the time we got exhausted. We gave up our quest for money 😦 . Headed to a small eatery shop and ordered for some vada-pav and decided to leave to Pune!

12.45 hrs – Something clicked in Mythri’s mind. She called up her cousin to find about the Rs. 500 she has lent to him and found that he kept the same in the book in Mythri’s bag. She made a thorough search and at last found Rs. 400! Yippee!! Another Rs. 400 added to our reserve. Now the dilemma crept in. Should we bargain hard and fix the trip at a cost of Rs. 600 and save the rest for our onward journey or should we save all of it?

13.20 hrs – After having a vada-pav, my brain started to work sharp I guess πŸ˜‰ :-p . I told Mythri about the plan that was running in my mind. It was to ask the auto-driver to accept our debit-card and swipe it at any one of those chikki shops or the hotels or any petrol-pumps and get the money! We were elated with our idea and headed towards the auto-junction and we found the same driver with whom we had a bargain in the morning. But to our utter disappointment he wasn’t of any help 😦 . We lost our hope again!

14.00 hrs – Mythri and I, the deadly combo will never give up so easily πŸ˜‰ We found another auto-wala and when we told him that we don’t have ready cash and he can execute the idea which we had in our mind and he readily accepted. He took us to a near by hotel whose manager he knew well, but that manager turned him down 😦 . But our driver was like the King Vikram who wanted to go after the ghost Bethal πŸ™‚ . He approached his group of drivers and somehow persuaded the leader to speak with a petrol-pump owner and finally the owner agreed to swipe our card and pay the driver πŸ™‚

14.15 hrs – We made a payment of Rs. 700 to the driver to show us all the important places which we should visit both in Khandala and Lonavla and asked him to drop us at the railway station before 17.00 hrs as we have to catch our train to Pune! Finally, we made it πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚