Pune is an amazing city to live in for several reasons. One of them is its geographical setting. It is situated on the Deccan plateau with Sahyadri hills forming its western periphery. Today the city has sprawled in all directions. One of its suburbs, Talegaon, is just a short drive from Lonavala. On your way to Mumbai, 163 km from Pune, you can take a detour to reach the hill retreat of Matheran. The beautiful hill stations of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani are just over 100 km southwest of Pune.
Once Lonavala was a sleepy little hill station. But with Mumbai on one side and Pune on another, it had to become livelier. So, it has grown to accommodate the weekenders from the two cities. In fact, it has gained much popularity and also attracts tourists from the neighbouring states. There are numerous resorts and retreats in and around the town where you can spend some time enjoying the quietude in the hills. Or if you are an outdoor person, there are several treks to be undertaken around the town. If you have interest in
Highlights: Weekend retreat, short treks, cave exploration.
Matheran is a tiny hill retreat which is unique in several ways. To start with, vehicles aren’t allowed in Matheran, not even a bicycle. So, if you are driving there, you’ll have to park your car 3 km downhill at Dasturi. From there you can trek up or ride a pony, you’ll get porters and pony to carry your bags. The toy train from Neral, a station on Mumbai suburban railway, drops you right in the middle of Matheran market. The market area is lined with shops and eateries. Beyond market, all the paths are unpaved. It is quite an experience to walk around on mud paths under the shade of the trees; walking is the best way to enjoy Matheran. Horses and hand-pulled carts are also available. There are numerous vantage points in Matheran.
Highlights: Beautiful and small little hill retreat, no vehicles and no roads, ideal for enjoying nature and tranquillity.
Situated at a height of 4500 ft, Mahabaleshwar is the highest place in Maharashtra. it is also the largest hill station in the state and attracts tourists from across the country. While the town is built around a small bazaar, it isn’t very pretty and well-kept. But around the town there are several vantage points. Apart from the pleasant views you earn from these places, the paths leading to them are also lined by thick woods. One thing you shouldn’t miss during your visit to Mahabaleshwar is visiting its strawberry plantations and trying a strawberry cream. If you are seeking just that peaceful commune with nature, prefer staying in one of the resorts out of Mahabaleshwar town, or you can also choose to stay in the nearby town of Panchgani.
Highlights: Popular hill station, several vantage points, strawberry plantations.
Panchgani is a small and peaceful town, 18 km east of Mahabaleshwar. ‘Panch’ means five, and Panchgani is called so because it is surrounded by five hills. Apart from a profusion of colonial and Parsi bungalows, it has several boarding schools. This town is a delight for the walking enthusiasts. It isn’t densely populated and hence there aren’t many vehicles, so walking is pretty enjoyable. Around the town, there are several vantage points. Panchgani is a good alternative to Mahabaleshwar especially for people seeking peace from the hustle and bustle of the cities.
Highlights: Small and sleepy hill town, ideal for a peaceful holiday.