Posted in Maharashtra, Sahayadris, travel

LONAVLA part 1…

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Chances are rare that you would get a day off from work and you will have nothing to do. Yes, there are chances that there are loads of things to do, but you are too bored to do any of it. Saturday, the 8th of December was one such day for me. Somehow, it was an official vacation on campus. There was a security lock down on the hostel gates as some eminent personality was visiting the campus. Randomness was taking over my thoughts as to what can be done. I did not want to stay back in the hostel and sleep all day. I did not want to watch a movie and I did not even want to go shopping. On that very day, out of complete randomness, the following conversation happened between me and my friend.
“Ghoomne Chalega” (Will you go out with me?).
“Yeah, why not? Tell me what’s the plan.”
“I don’t know. I haven’t decided anything as of now.”
“Then make one and decide what can we do”
“There is no time to sit and brainstorm (favorite word of management students!), let us just catch the morning bus and go somewhere.”
“Fine, but what do you want to do, what is the idea?”
“I want to sit in a train.”
“How weird you can be, Vrinda?”
“The only thing on my mind is to go to the railway station and catch the first train in the morning.”
He, most obviously, got skeptical and stopped texting me. Later, in the night, I received a text saying that if he is assured of a safe and sound return to campus, he can try.
I replied to him saying that this was no kidnapping mission or a ransom call or some mental disorder.
There was no plan of action; everything was to be decided on the spot. We boarded the early morning bus from campus and reached “Shivaji Nagar” railway station at 8.
We asked at the ticket counter, the next train was at 8 15 and was going to LONAVLA. Perfect time and perfect place. None of us had seen the place before and in fact had no idea about it. Local train is one of the best ways to commute to Lonavla. Within 2 hours, we reached Lonavla railway station after crossing Khadki, Pimpri, Chinchwad, Talegaon and a few more.
As soon as we reached there and exited out of the station, a lot of overcharging taxis and autos were standing there to facilitate the tourists. But we just wanted to travel around the place and explore it more.
The first thing that we saw as we started walking was the Vada Pao center. Famished to the core, it was a good idea to finish breakfast first and then explore further. Talking to the locals, we came to know that there is not much one can explore in this small town. Yet they gave us some idea about a few spots like Tiger Point, Karla Caves, Wax Museum and a few more.
Tiger Point is usually visited during the monsoon season as you can sit, eat Maggie, drink hot coffee and let the clouds touch you and pass over you.
Since, it was a bright sunny day, we decided to walk till the Karla caves. It is approximately 8 Kilometers from the Lonavla city and is easily accessible too. The autowallahs charge heftily to cover the small distance. The other way is to walk down till the highway, catch a shared auto, which will drop you at a point, little beyond Malvali, from where you can walk on the village road to reach the base village.
It is a commercialized centre where one can shop for all kinds of “chikki” , something that Lonavla is famous for. From this point on, there were two routes-one of them has around 350 stairs which will lead you directly to caves. The other one is a motor able road, which merges later with the first route and then you need to climb only 150 stairs.
Of course the distance cannot be shortened but yes, the monotony of climbing stairs can be broken. After a while, we reached the mid point where a man was strategically standing to sell Lemonade. What a brilliant business strategy it was! It felt blissful to see a lemonade seller there. A short break and we further went to climb the stairs and reach the top. The rest of the way was completely commercialized and people were buying and selling all sorts of eatables. “Kandi Peda”, a famous sweet of the local region was available at every nook and corner.
Finally after a long walk, we reached the ASI preserved, historical monument, Karla Caves. An entry ticket of 5 Rupees is what they charge to let you in.
Huge, black, magnificent structures, built out of rocks, are maintained in a concrete manner, even after 2500 years of their construction. They were built during the reign of Ashoka. Inside the cave, one can see a huge room which was once used as king’s court. There is carving on the roofs and pillars. The restoration of the monument has been done skillfully. Outside the court, there is a temple also. School students often visit this place as a picnic spot.
We sat there for quite a while under a rock. A cool and calm place to relax and chat, we conversed on a lot of things happening around us and how has the day been so far.
Till now the plan has been successful. Both of us were enjoying the walking and talking. I was glad that I did not waste my day in the hostel. After a few hours, we got up to grab a meal and then catch the train. “Udupi Restaurant” on the way served us hot and yummy south Indian food.
We walked down till the Malvali railway station to catch the return train. We reached just in time to catch the 3 o’ clock train and reach Pune by 4 30.
We were happy because it was the first of its kind trip for both of us. Not so adventurous, yet so spontaneous and since the reviews came out to be great I am sure the randomness will take us over again.

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