aati kya lonavla?

the biggest problem with a weekend getaway is exactly that… it’s a ‘weekend getaway’. so it’s close to a big city, and that means most of the populace of that said city heads out there on the weekend. so, it’s like you are taking your noisy, nosy neighbours with you on a holiday…

lonavla is one such place. as a destination, it’s probably got the best location! sandwiched in the hills between the hot, humid and high-density mumbai and once-cool-pune. sitting happily, spread out across the sahyadri peaks and valleys, high enough to be called a hill-station, low enough to be reached by a car stuffed heavy with a big family…

i have almost never stayed there.

almost never, as holiday conferences don’t count as travel, and those more than 5 years ago can be thrown right out of the window…

almost never, as i have stayed close to lonavla, and those don’t count either, as those other places are destinations in their own right…

added to this, i grew up in pune, and i could probably have hopped and skipped my way to lonavla. but, we never visited. i’m talking 15-20 years ago, so was it a ‘bad’ holiday destination even then?

why did i go last month?

curiosity…. i kept telling myself, it can’t really be that bad… people are just spoilt with the travel options today so we forget gems in our backyard… in my head i repeated, those kind of lines…

and there was an excuse to travel (i was feeling guilty as there was a long trip planned to the kumaons at the end of december, more about that later!) so thanks to that thing called a marriage anniversary & people asking us ‘what’s your plan’, we decided to move out of mumbai and go somewhere… anywhere…

ENTER LONAVLA

after one night, two days, and a lot of clogged roads and curses flung around, i sat down to write a post on our trip… a month flew by and i still found myself searching. trying to hunt for that list of ten reasons? some reasons? there surely must be something nice about it. but i think there is only one thing to say: there is absolutely NOTHING!

bokeh comes visiting over the hills and vales(c) bhavani
bokeh comes visiting over the hills and vales… 50mm i love you!
(c) bhavani

lonavla a bunch of shabby roads, lined with so many middle-class-appealing-90’s hotels, that are neither vintage and hence classy, nor modern and trendy. there are those usual shops packed tightly next to each that one sees anywhere and everywhere in any city or town in india. there is the chikki, which one get’s at the neighbourhood shop today… the chocolate fudge? i think that’s really over-hyped.

the tiny roads are clogged with traffic during the weekend (we got stuck in a jam). there are only basic restaurants that cater to multi-cuisine desires else one needs to travel to another hotel and eat at their restaurant. so after a lot of thinking i realised there was nothing to say about the holiday. maybe at best, the weather was pleasant.

there are areas in and around the hills that have developed and there might be swanky, elitists and elusive properties around. but if it’s not accessible to the common man, then i don’t count them as i don’t get to visit them.

today lonavla is a convenient point to begin a journey to somewhere else. it is that crowded road off the expressway on your journey from mumbai to pune that you do not want to take! it is that place the new ‘nouveau riche’ go for their destination wedding. it still gets lovely clouds in the monsoon, but that cannot be its only claim to fame?

i realised that in every trip i need to find something of the character of the city. what it stood for. where it came from. where the city felt it was heading! but, lonavla seemed to have none. it was a watered down version of something that maybe was sometime long ago, maybe when it was ‘discovered’ in 1871 by the britishers trying to escape the mind-numbing tropical heat of mumbai.

run-down, crowded, and complacent in its attitude to me the tourist, it’s definitely on my list of places one should not waste time at.

lonavla is a place that was!

the sun sets over lonavla
the sun sets over lonavla
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