Vacationing on a hilltop- Lonavala and Tungi, Maharashtra, India.
Lonavala has a different ring to it, like an escape paradise especially to the people of Mumbai. It is said Mumbai makes the toughest people and if you can survive 2 years in the local train journeys, not getting trampled under the ever moving crowds, you can make it anywhere in the world. The truth is, given a chance the first place mumbaikars run off to is Pune and closely followed by Lonavala.
Lonavala has the world's best vada pav, so if you ever visit lonavala, mark my advice: HAVE THE VADAPAV there!
Well, this time, We at The WildernessLive decided to show you two experiences in Lonavala. While one belongs to Lonavala, the other belongs to a quiet little place called Tungi.Why don't you leave us a comment under telling us, what is your favorite way of spending a day of relaxation on a hill station. In the meanwhile, we will narrate to you our most memorable hill station getaways.
“I can remember going to Lonavala ever since we shifted back to Mumbai in 2009. Every year since then, one rainy afternoon, my parents would decide to go to Lonavala and off we were the next day. Most of the trip I’d spend sleeping, which is not my fault, because getting out of Mumbai would take forever. But the moment we would hit Mumbai- Pune highway, I would be glued to the window. The seasonal waterfalls, the drops on the window of the car and my favorite tunnels dug through the mountains, I could never get enough of it.
Source: NMTV's story
After being caught in the moment between the fog and a good 20 meters cliff dive, we would stop near the joining of the old highway and the new highway to eat roasted ‘bhutta’, somehow it would always start from two halves of one corn and end up at 3 full corns, that is still a mystery to me. I guess we really like the taste of hot corn dripping with spices and butter with the cold breeze around us and the slow accumulation of fog, the little drops of rain, falling on irregularly. Okay, take me back. Finally we’d arrive home. Well not the mumbai home but our little quaint retreat in Lonavala. We’d always have Manoj bhaiya and Rajan bhaiya waiting for us at the door with a plateful of really delicious pakhode. After the long drive, dad would often take a quick shower and Rajan bhaiya would make his ‘the best and the frothiest, out of this world cold coffee for me and warm tea for mum. After which, the three of us would leave for a walk. Our neighbourhood was always quiet since all the bunglows there were summer retreats so we never usually had many people around us. I think we even got lost once or twice walking in a circle. After the walk and our traditional who forgot the umbrella and who gets to walk under mum’s umbrella fights, we’d come back to the house, where we would be greeted with piping hot dinner. At night, we would sit on the terrace and stare into the sky, probably the only time twinkling sky was visible. Next day, morning we would spend the morning on the lawn with games and I’d learn a little more about gardening from Manoj Bhaiya. After lunch we would leave again to come back to our hectic busy lives in Mumbai, hoping to see Lonavala soon again”.
On a side note, there are a lot of really interesting museums in Lonavala. On our way back, we’d often stop at the main bus depot of Lonavala for a quick snack. Near there, there is a Lonavala wax statue museum with really remarkable wax statues, and down one of the roads is a very interesting chocolate factory. Not Willy Wonka interesting, I think that would have posed a great threat to my education if Willy Wonka were real. But nevertheless, the chocolate factory has a recommendable knowledge base on chocolates and its products. It’s a really fun tour if you are not in a hurry to reach somewhere.
"Gazing at the sky as a child, I always wondered if I could touch the clouds. I was blessed to have closely passed through these expansive white and puffy objects, floating in the vast blue sky while journeying in airplanes on many occasions. But I always wished if I could touch one or better even- pack one of the floofy ones in my backpack and carry it home. This childhood fantasy first took a real turn on my visit to Lonavala in the monsoons. Visiting there in the monsoons was truly blissful, when the rich white clouds with all their dignity, descended from the skies as if to greet us welcome! Sadly, most of Lonavala is always sprawling with tourists from the nearby towns. This was especially disappointing for me because I always desire to experience such beauty in my own personal space and in solitude. But like Lonavala, I could experience such beauty *minus the throng* in a place which isn’t located very far. This place is Tungi- a small village located about 25 km from the city of Lonavala.
Situated between the hill that houses the Tung Fort, and the western bank of the Pawna Lake, Tungi is vastly isolated from all the hubbub caused by tourists in and around Lonavala. Yet it has some of the most mesmerising views of the Pawna Lake at offer. For that adventurous spirit inside of me, Tungi offers a host of outdoor and thrilling adventurous activities. There’s a trek to the Tung fort, which is a beginner’s trek and the journey has a host of sights to stop and look around. This includes a Ganesh temple, and water wells which served the guards who were once stationed at the fort. The greatest attraction is the crest of this hill. It is so high that one can touch the clouds, which is also why this fort was predominantly constructed. Historically it served as a watch post for the Marathas who had annexed it from Adil Shahi. The fort served as a strategic point for guarding the capital city of Pune from any intrusions.
Besides the fort, there’s also a trail from the Tungi village down the valley, to the coast of the Pawna Lake. Overnight camping by the lakeside is the go-to activity. It’s a delight to tent under the night sky, glazing with stars. The distant glimmering lights from the shanties belonging to the inhabitants and few other campers around the lucid lake only top it off. But sometimes, my mood dictates to remain relaxed without breaking a sweat or an ankle, and Tungi has something less exhausting too. I’ve always relished the serene beauty of the lake down the valley and the fascinating fort atop the lofty hill while lounging in my cozy resort room in Tungi. This is when I am not only at the peak of my comfort, but also nestled in the solitude that Tungi has at offer. Walking down the snake path in the resort on a cool monsoon evening is supremely relieving. It doesn’t take long for the surroundings to sink me in its gusto. The sound of the streams flowing downhill, and the rhythmic orchestra of the croaking frogs teleport me to a zone of inner peace and tranquility. Walking down the road further and I reach the deck which quite literally hangs over the valley. The view from here goes down in my books for being one of the greatest! The vast and solid blue lake, with mountains in the horizon. Above these mountains are monsoon clouds racing against one another in the far sight, while tree swifts race a couple of feet from the loft of the deck.
I truly cherish this place solely because of the mesmerizing beauty of this location and long desperately for my next vacation to this heavenly place."