Sunday, June 17, 2007

Weekend at Lonavala

There were seven of us with our spouses and kids. Given the nature of our jobs (and in some cases, those of our spouses), we hadn't spent time together for a very long time. So a few weeks back, a few of us decided to do something about it. And here we were, celebrating the arrival of monsoon in Lonavala.

LonavalaGiven how close Lonavala and Khandala are to Pune, we have visted this lovely place many times before. This time we decided to stay at the Sahil Sarovar Portico, a moderately priced hotel/retreat in Lonavala. This place turned out to be much smaller than we had expected; however, the rooms were clean, the staff polite and helpful, and the food, though not elaborate, was good. The discovery of this trip was their spa. While it was modest in size, the quality of experience was better than those the upscale resorts offer in this area (we are familiar with Velvet Country Resort and Duke's Retreat).

LonavalaLonavala is at it's prettiest during the rains. The drizzles had already begun the week before, and the foliage seemed greener than ever. However, the best is still ahead of us, when little streams and waterfalls begin to show up in the Ghats, and the heavy rain-clouds begin to shroud the nearby hill-tops.

LonavalaDuring the morning hours when the sun shone brightly through the clouds, we alternated between lounging pool-side with mugs of chilled beer and splashing in the (rather small!) pool in our hotel. After a lazy lunch, we drove down to the nearby Valwan Dam, which is run by Tata Power.

LonavalaThe lake on which the dam is built can only be visited by walking through elaborately landscaped gardens which are a feast for the senses. This is a very pretty place for a quiet stroll, the hillside rising on one side with trees, bushes and man-made waterfalls, while the land gradually falls away on the other side revealing rows and rows of colorful flower-beds and plants. There is a nominal entrance fee (Rs: 5 per person), but the WTF moment occured when we realized that photography is prohibited in this area. They are efficient in their frisking; so don't even think of smuggling a camera or a camera-phone inside.

Like all good things, the weekend came to an end, and we drove back to Pune after a wonderful weekend. I will cover some other interesting stuff and post more pics in a later post.

A side-effect of this weekend trip to Lonavala was I missed attending the very first bloggers' meet in Pune. From the initial posts I see on blogs (here, here, and here), advertisers apparently spent some time marketing their wares during the intial sessions, while the Bombay bloggers hogged some of the limelight during the rest of the day. The meet got a lot of media attention from the mainstream press too!

5 comments:

Sakshi said...

Ya we Bombay Bloggers tend to do that alot...and thats hogg the limelight. :)

Lakshmi said...

Guess what, after I finished posting my interview meme, I came here and coincidentally you blogged about Makka Buttas! I am nostalgic now...

The white flowers remind me of the kinds I used to absolutely adore in Mangalore.. They are found in the Sahayadris aka western ghats.. We used to call it Sugandhi and someone told me they were related to the lily family.. I also love Kevdas [Mogali] which are primarily early monsoon flowers.. And how could I forget? Mangalore mallige [jasmine]. Its distinct and different..

I am so homesick now...

HAREKRISHNAJI said...

you should see Lonavala during monsoon. I have done lots of treks in the whole region.

Shantanu said...

@sakshi: Good for you!

@lakshmi: Yeah, always took these things for granted, until I lived in the US.

@harekrishnaji: Welcome back after so long! With the little one we are no longer able to do long treks.

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