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Old 17th November 2013, 16:13   #1
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Default Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!

There really is no perfect time for travelling but anybody would agree that doing so when the weather is either too hot or too cold is rather annoying. Although I shouldn't complain since Pune is blessed with mild climate for most of the year (April, May and October are the muggy exceptions). Still my favourite time to head out into the hills is early winter.

During Diwali and Dassera, everyone and their brother-in-law seems to be out on the road and we thought it made sense to spend it at home, car safely parked in the garage, and get some quality family time. But then happened a couple of unplanned trips that contributed to creating this travelogue.

If you're looking for snow-clad peaks and breathtaking wallpaper-material pics, this one isn't for you, sorry . In fact these aren't even particularly pathbreaking in terms of selection of places: Lavasa and Lonavala are pretty much the perfect couple of cliches in that respect. But when the weather's fine, the wind's blowing in your face and you have a set of wheels and some good company, you travel. And then you write.

So, without further ado...
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Old 17th November 2013, 17:02   #2
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Default Lavasa: Unplanned Trip To The Planned City

Lavasa is a private planned town about 55 km from Pune. Since it opened to the public a few years ago (after trying a "residents and paying guests only" policy that bombed badly) I have made a number of trips there, with friends and family. The main reason is because the approach road to the place is amazing, with nice twisties to zip on, scenic views and almost always light traffic. There are a couple of (rather overpriced) hotels up there, but the drive from my place is about 75 minutes so that is never an option for us. We usually pop up there late morning for some fresh air, a leisurely meal, nice photo ops and then head back.

This time there was one major difference: instead of a car, I was on a bike. As a result, not only was the trip rather exhilarating, but the photos clicked offered a whole different perspective.
Attached Thumbnails
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-058.jpg  

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Old 18th November 2013, 14:46   #3
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Default Lavasa (cont'd)

This was a totally impromptu trip with a friend of mine on a weekday afternoon. This guy had just returned from a trip to New Zealand and some parts of North India. He was itching for a bike ride and the weather was just perfect. I told him to head over since I wanted to test my new camera. The Lavasa trip pics that follow are all shot on a Nikon Coolpix S6500; yup, the same one that Piggy Chops endorses!



Same colour too!

So off we went...
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-017.jpg
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-018.jpg
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Some scarecrows in the adjoining fields.Clever use of the helmet!
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Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-026.jpg

The route follows Paud Road for a while before branching off towards Lavharde. This is where the rural section starts. Very picturesque!
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-030.jpg
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-031.jpg
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Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-039.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-032.jpg  


Last edited by noopster : 18th November 2013 at 15:20.
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Old 18th November 2013, 15:15   #4
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Default Lavasa (cont'd)

Just before the ghat section that takes you up to Lavasa begins you come across a magnificent dam and the man-made reservoir behind it.
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-042.jpg
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We stopped at one of the scenic points to take in the beauty around us. And of course take some pics.
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-060.jpg
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Another look at our trusty steed, clumsily processed by me :
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-070.jpg
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Old 18th November 2013, 15:39   #5
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Default Lavasa (cont'd)

Finally, the town gates beckon. This security checkpoint is the place where numerous eager tourists would get sent back from if they didn't show a confirmed reservation at any of the hotels inside. Thankfully this is a thing of the past- they still ask you for your name and take your vehicle number down, though!
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-083.jpg
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Roads get immediately better.
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Designed as an "international" city, Lavasa has landmarks with interesting, if rather incongruous-sounding, names. "Portofino Street", "Lakeside Promenade", "Dasvino Town & Country Club" all grab your attention. The latter is obviously derived from Dasve, the first of 7 towns in the Lavasa project to be completed (another is almost done- the rest will be done in future).
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-100.jpg
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Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-090.jpg
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-097.jpg

Last edited by noopster : 18th November 2013 at 15:53.
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Old 18th November 2013, 16:03   #6
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Default Lavasa- concluded!

I don't really know what I was aiming for but it ended up being one of those exotic selfies that ends up on Facebook
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-052.jpg

We had lunch at one of the restaurants on the promenade. Some decent options include Chor Bizarre for North Indian food, American Diner for hotdogs and the like, plus the usual pizza, chat, ice cream places and an Irish Pub.

The food wasn't too bad: I had a shwarma while my buddy had a chicken sandwich. We lazily made our way back to the bike and started back around 4. Traffic was just beginning to build when we made our way back to Chandni Chowk, the gateway back into Pune city.

I managed to squeeze a few more shots in on the downward ride.
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-112.jpg
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-114.jpg
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-116.jpg
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-lavasa-130.jpg

Home by half past five! all in all, a well-spent afternoon.
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Old 18th November 2013, 16:11   #7
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Default Part II: Lonavala en famile!

Hardly was I back when we found out that there was a family outing being planned the next weekend, just 2 days away. It's been a while since my family has got together (the rest of them live in Mumbai) so meeting on a Saturday in Lonavala and spending the night in a quaint old bungalow sounded lovely.

This time the trusty family steeds did duty, the Innova from Mumbai and my own familiar Vento from Pune.
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_155416.jpg

Pics taken on my Galaxy Note 8 Mpixel camera.

Last edited by noopster : 18th November 2013 at 19:58.
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Old 18th November 2013, 16:39   #8
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Default Lonavala (cont'd)

The plan was for the Mumbai people to start first, battle traffic and the ascending ghat, while we got ready at leisure and zipped along the e-way to meet them for lunch. Since the other men in the family are vegetarians, we decided to meet at Kamat's near the Mumbai-side Khandala exit.

Not much to report, except for the hot dogs: Konkani-speaking (well, following anyway) ice-cream-eating dachshunds! There's a first for everything, I guess
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_141311.jpg

After lunch, we figured the parents would want to go to the bungalow and rest their bones but they told us not to be so lazy (!!) and so we went in search of some entertainment in the small town. This seemed interesting:
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_151125.jpg

It was an honour to 'meet' the veteran anti-corruption crusader:
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_145555.jpg

Comparing mustaches with one dictator...
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_145322.jpg

...while another stood defiantly in the dock.
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_145039.jpg

Our desi Madame Tussaud's is on the old NH4 outside Lonavala town near Karla. Not bad for 100/- a head. The kids had fun and so did the adults!

After this we were in a mood to see some scenic sights. So took the beautifully laid Aamby Valley road and made our way up to Tiger Point.

Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_154923.jpg
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_160224.jpg

It's a real pity to see the trash littered on the cliffside:
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_154823.jpg

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Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_160831.jpg
If the people-carrier looks familiar, you probably remember it from one of our official reviews (Chevrolet Enjoy : Official Review)!
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-chevyenjoy17.jpg
Meanwhile, our own rides soak up some sun.
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_161206.jpg

Last edited by noopster : 18th November 2013 at 17:11.
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Old 18th November 2013, 17:23   #9
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It was too early to watch the sunset so we set off for the bungalow. A swanky mall and a multiplex have made their appearance in Lonavala now, the sight of which both pleased me and saddened me a little. But considering that the hill station is pretty much an extension of the metropolis now, it's not really that surprising. Anyway, the kids were hungry so we did a quick pit-stop on the way.

And then we were home. Well, for the night at least!
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It was an old house, with high ceilings, wooden doors and stone walls. It overlooked a green valley with a babbling brook running just behind it (at least I hope brooks babble, it's quite clear that I do !)
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Nice balcony but it proved unusable because of the moquitoes that attacked in droves. Inside was cozier.
Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131116_173313.jpg
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The house is apparently owned by an old Parsi lady whose family spends some weekends here and other times lets it out to families mostly from Mumbai. A caretaker and cook are part of the deal. While we waited for the chicken to cook, we drank tea on the lawns and the kids played. After dinner we sat indoors as the mercury dipped and sang songs and played games. Plenty of pics were taken and memories created. Nothing more relaxing than spending some quality time with the family, is there?

Last edited by noopster : 18th November 2013 at 18:12.
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Old 18th November 2013, 18:17   #10
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The next morning we all woke up pretty early and got ready to hit the road by about ten. It was Sunday and someone suggested we go to the Karla caves nearby. So we drove towards Karla and got stuck in some sort of monster traffic jam that didn't seem to be going anywhere. So we turned back and headed towards the Bhaje Caves not too far away. after we parked we realised that there was climbing involved so our travel party reduced to 2 adults and 2 kids. But climb we did and it was a fairly easy trek at the end of it. Here are some pics:

Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!-20131117_120007.jpg

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Last edited by noopster : 18th November 2013 at 19:09.
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Old 18th November 2013, 18:23   #11
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Well that was it...pretty much. Just a quiet relaxing weekend with the family doing fun things.

After the caves, it was pretty close to lunch time and one of the group asked, "Where's that place where you Team BHP guys have your meets?" Well, turned out that Sunny da dhaba was in fact just some 5 km from where we were.

So that's where we headed...and sorry- there are no pics of the butter chicken, veg kadai, biryani or anything else we ordered...too busy eating!
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Kiddo wanted to play on the swings and we didn't really want the weekend to end so spent some time out front. Then we got into our car and went home.

Last edited by noopster : 18th November 2013 at 19:19.
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Old 19th November 2013, 09:29   #12
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Default Re: Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th November 2013, 13:19   #13
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Default Re: Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!

The best part about living in Pune/Bombay is that such places are hardly an hours drive away!

Nice pics of some lovely winter afternoons. Lavasa and Lonavala, both have been done a zillion times, but the drive to both these destinations are too lovely to give them a miss.
Why take the E-way to Lonavala, when you have an equally beautiful, and dare I say, more fun to drive, old NH4?

BTW, is that bungalow available on rent? And if so, have you taken the owner's number?
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Old 20th November 2013, 14:02   #14
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Default Re: Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swanand Inamdar View Post
The best part about living in Pune/Bombay is that such places are hardly an hours drive away!
I agree, but that's a cop-out people use to cover their laziness. You'll be surprised the number of roadtrips we did from Bangalore, back in the day: sadly no TLs because these were pre-TBHP days for me .

Quote:
Why take the E-way to Lonavala, when you have an equally beautiful, and dare I say, more fun to drive, old NH4?
I figure that's a rhetorical question! Actually we needed to get there quickly so took the e-way. The return trip was more leisurely, so took the old highway.

Quote:
BTW, is that bungalow available on rent? And if so, have you taken the owner's number?
It is and I will get the number.
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Old 24th November 2013, 21:41   #15
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Default Re: Early Winter & Heading to the hills from Pune!

Quote:
Originally Posted by noopster View Post

It is and I will get the number.

Its been 10 months I haven't driven to Lonavala / Pune and itching to do the drive. Lets see what the mega-meet has in store.

And yes, would love to get the bungalow owners number.

Where exactly is this bungalow Anoop?




-Yogesh.
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