There are two hill stations located very near to Mumbai in India that can provide the best opportunity to all the residents of Mumbai to enjoy fun filled holidays in the hills. These hill stations are Lonavala and Khandala. These can be called as twin hill stations as they are located very close to each other. Lonavala is around 70 miles away from Mumbai and Khandala is just 3 miles away from there. The best way to reach at these hill stations is to travel by road from Mumbai on Mumbai- Poona highway. Lonavala is only 42 miles away from Poona and you can also plan to visit Poona while visiting these hill stations.
There are excellent hotels available at Lonavala to stay. Such hotels are Hotel Chandralok, Highland, Avion, Hari international, Faryas, Lake View Resort, and Swan Hill Resort. These high class hotels are rather expensive and their tariffs are in the range of Rs.3000 ($75) per day to Rs.5000 ($125) per day for a double room. These hotels are almost equivalent to five star hotels. The hotels like Swastika, Star Regency, Sahani Holiday Homes, and Rain bow retreat are middle class hotels having the tariff of around Rs.2000 ($50) per day for a double room. If you want to stay at Khandala, hotels like Fun and Food, Girija, Duke’s Retreat, Mount View Resort, and Velvet Hills Retreat are available almost in the same price range. I would personally advice you all to stay at Khandala as there are some breathtaking views of the hills and valleys are available from some selected points. These hill stations were invented in the year 1871 and are located at the height of around 2000 feet from the mean sea level. The best time to visit these hill stations is either during the peak rainy season in July or August or just after the rainy season in the month of October and November. The nature is at full swing during these times and the beauty of all the scenic points and the falls is really breathtaking at this time. There are many points like echo point, valley view, suicide point, heaven point, hill view available at these hill stations that can be reached either by walking or by hired taxi or car. All types of delicious foods are available here in ample at various hotels and restaurants. However, the best is the Gujarati / Marathi style thalis and you must try it at least once during your stay.
There are some excursions also available that you can visit from Lonavala/Khandala. The first spot is Carla Caves. These caves are 7 miles away from Lonavala. These caves were made before around 2100 years. They have Buddhist architecture and are full of artistic sculptures. There is a stupa inside the caves that has some unknown type of letters written on it. The next is Bhaja Caves. These are situated in the lust green fields near Khandala. It also has Buddhist type of sculptures, mainly relating to the Hinyans part of the Buddhists. The caves also offer beautiful scenic views all around and are a good picnic spot. Kalsubai is the next spot to be visited. It is the tallest summit of Sahyadri Mountain range in entire Maharashtra State. The biggest dam of the Western India, known as Wilson Dam, is also situated here. The Arthur Lake, constructed 500 feet above the Wilson Dam is situated in thick forests, presenting the beauty of its own. There is a Randha Fall here at the Dam site. The water falls from the height of 150 feet in this fall, providing a breathtaking view of the falling water with almost permanent visible rainbow. You must not miss to buy most delicious chikkis from Lonavala/Khandala. Chikkis are very famous here and they are sent to all over India and even abroad from here. However, make sure to buy these Chikkis only from renowned and famous stores so as to get the best quality. The rates of Chikkis are around Rs.500 per kg based on the type you select. There are around 60 varieties of Chikkis available here.
I had been to Lonavala/Khandala many times and have enjoyed their beauty all the times. I would invite all my AC friends to visit these most beautiful hill stations that are so close to Mumbai and can be reached very easily.