Lonavala, November 17/18, 2015
Our daughter and grandson are in Hong Kong on a week’s vacation. We had not planned how to spend this week, till last Saturday. I had not visited Lonavala and my ‘awareness’ about that place was just chikis(for which the place is famous world over) and waterfalls. Not very comfortable with ‘online booking’, went and booked a two-day stay at Hotel Gautam, from the nearest travel agent in Bhandup. Also reserved two seats in a Neeta bus leaving Chembur at 9 a m on November17.
We reached Hotel Gautam by 11 30 a m. The hotel, with just 50 odd double rooms had a majestic, palace-like look. They served only Gujju/Rajastani/Chinese vegetarian food. The package for two persons, two nights included all meals(for 10.5k, at the present level of prices, looked cheap!).
Day one(November 17), afternoon, we hired a car and went around. Covered almost entire Lonavala and some parts of Khandala. Chicki shops were everywhere. Waterfalls were conspicuous by their absence! They say, you should visit during rains, to enjoy waterfalls. Did they mean rainfalls?
About tourist spots. We skipped Karla Caves and Bhaja Caves, as Tushar (the driver of the car we hired) told us, “aap log senior citizens hai. Udhar chadhna mushkil hoga.”(you people are old. Can’t climb upthe steps there). MTDC Boating Club, another tourist spot, was closed. Skipped Wax Muzeum, as we had seen enough of celebrities in wax formations, some deformed due to heat, in other places.
We visited a couple of dams, a lake, a temple (Narayani Dham), a couple of ‘view points’, Sun-set Point and Reywood Park. A word about Reywood Park. Several trees, a children’s park and a pathway in a vast area makes it a nice spot where one would love to spend some evening time. But, it is shabbily maintained(I should say, there was no maintenance), waiting for someone to buy the area at throwaway price and convert into a ‘RESORT OF SORTS’.
That reminds me our Wayanad(Kerala) tour of 2013. That district has been converted into a nice ‘tourist village’ in Kerala, converting half a dozen spots including Pookode Lake, Edakkal Caves and Kuruva Dweep with international standard cleanliness and facilities. When we visited Singapore ten years back, I had wondered, why India, which has several geographical areas with tourist attractions much higher in level compared to what Singapore packaged and served us, is not taking advantage of the rich resources. What we saw in Wayanad convinced me that just one District Collector with government support can do wonders in the tourism sector.
More later.
Feel free to offer your views.

M G Warrier


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