The Journey : Pickups were planned at Kandivali, Dadar, Chembur,Kalamboli, Panvel.There started our journey.After picking up enthusiasts along the way, our numbers rose to 17 with a couple of office collegues joining in.All towards our destination - Lohagad.The way to Lohagad was to through a place Malawli - Base Village.
How to reach Lohagad : There are different ways by which one can reach Lohagad. As discussed earlier, you have to reach the base village called as "Malawli".
By Public Transport : If you are planning to travel by public transport, you need to catch a train to Pune.(from Mumbai).On the way, Malawli is the next station after Lonavala.Make sure the train you catch stops at Malawli.Once you get down at Malawli Station,walk towards the end of the station, i.e. towards the Pune side.Once you reach the end, turn right.And keep walking, till you come across a patch of land - we shall call it 'Junction'.That's because you would find shops, hotels and some houses too.You would also find an open space - courtyard on the left side.Its used as a parking space.This is the Bhaje gaon.
By Road : We came here by road - the route is even simpler take the Mumbai-Pune express highway, soon after passing through Lonavala, we started looking at signs for Malawli and also asking people at every turn, just to be sure.Soon, we made a turn to the right, i.e. after asking for directions to local people.We then crossed over the railway lines,near the Malawli station and reached the "Junction" - Bhaje gaon.
After parking our vehicle there,We had a nice sumptuous breakfast of Pohe served with freshly cut lemons to go along with it.Not more than 20 Rs.After a few group snaps, we were all set to start our trek.Some of us, me included, bought some water from the nearby shops. Make sure you buy water here, you will surely need them, as there are no other shops on the way to Lohagad.From the junction, you can see some stairs in the distant background,on the left hand side.Those are the stairs to the "Bhaje caves" - our next destination.
Journey: The journey began with the climbing the steps to the caves. These are unique steps, each step being low in height, and high in terms on length and width.So actually, when you climbing them, its almost as if you and walking instead of really climbing.Still, after a few levels, it starts tiring you out.It took us not more than 20-30 minutes to reach the top.Again, that depends on how fit you are.On the way, we found a few local vendors selling chaas,cucumbers,lime juice.Once we reached the caves, we had to pay some entrance fees to It was Rs. 10 for an adult and Rs. 5 for a child.Finally, after some struggle, we reached the caves.
Lohagad : Lohagad fort, one of prominent forts built by Shivaj Maharaj stands tall at 3,450 feet (1,052 m) near Lonavala.Known as the Iron fort (Loha=Iron). It is said to have been used by many dynasties that ruled the Marathi kingdom.There are many structures built on the fort by the people who ruled it which includes a water tank, temple etc. A favorite among the modern day marathas - the trekkers.The fort has always attracted hordes of tourists across Mumbai and Pune.Usually seen as a beginners trek.For more details on Lohagad click here.
Journey : As you reach the Pune-Mumbai highway,by road, coming from Lohagad, take a left at Lonavala.You need to cross over the train lines and go by the parallel road on the other side tback owards Pune.Make sure to ask local people the route, as you need to take a right.It takes around 30 minutes to reach Pawna lake from Lonawala.After a few turns we were again in the country side (Lonavala is almost a city nowadays).Soon we could see the lake in the distant background, but reaching there seemed like forever.We were getting down to lower plains and the roads were spirally taking us down.Although they are one-way roads, if any big vehicle say a truck or a big car came towards you, it meant slowing down and going on the side to allow the oncoming vehicle to pass by.Slowly, steadily we manage to reach the lake.There was a big parking place nearby, that's where we parked our 18-seater.We could hear noise of the boats from there..
Return :We spent over an hour at Pawna lake, before moving on for our return jorney.Someone had informed our organizer that you do not have to get to Lonavala to get on the highway. There was an alternative route to Mumbai.After asking a few locals we were soon on our way back to Mumbai on the expressway.Overall it was well organized trip by Breakfree journeys - there was a bit of history, hard work, great food, some adventure, serene breath taking scenes, lots of pictures.Hope this blog helps you on your trip to Lohagad..!!