Pawna Lake: Off the beaten track
January 1, 1970
by Tinsy Thomas
Weekend getaway from Mumbai
Are you looking for ideas for a weekend getaway from the financial capital of India, Mumbai? Somewhere peaceful and unexplored, where you can switch off from the rest of the world for a day or two? Pawna lake is one such hidden gem. Still largely undiscovered by the rest of the world, this place is free from the crowds that plague the nearby hill stations of Khandala and Lonavla. While India has many lakes and beautiful water bodies, Pawna lake is one of the lesser known places, yet worth a visit.
Pawna Lake is situated approximately 100 kms from the city of Mumbai and makes for a great one day or weekend trip. It is an amazing place for nature lovers who would love to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in a quiet and scenic environment. Should you choose to stay over, you will be treated to a clear and beautiful night sky, which is perfect for star gazing.
They say half the fun of the trip lies in the journey and not the destination. This holds true for the road trip to Pawna lake, which is through the scenic hills of the Sahyadris. This can become a thrilling drive in itself, especially during the monsoon season (June to September), when waterfalls & gurgling streams spring up from nowhere. Moisture-heavy clouds cling to hill tops, giving you the feeling that everything is alright with the world.
Tip: You may want to plan setting out early morning to escape the city traffic and reach the scenic lake in around 3 hours (from Mumbai). This will give you plenty of time to admire the views enroute, take some pictures and stop for a tea break. The last 2-3 kms of the road trip make for quite a bumpy ride, as the rural roads are not concretized.
Pawna lake is largely surrounded by rural villages with agriculture and poultry farming being the major sources of occupation. We passed by village temples, huts and vegetable fields on our way to the lake. The rugged roads seem to pose no problems for bikers, as we passed several of them on the way.
Pawna lake is an artificial reservoir that was created due to the construction of a dam of the same name. It makes for a pretty sight with the clean, blue & serene waters of the lake, surrounded by gentle, rolling hills of the Sahyadris. The banks of the lake have large, open spaces, which make for great picnic spots. But in case you have not packed your picnic basket, fret not. Nearby Lonavla & Khandala, which are around 8-10 kms away, have several good restaurants. When we googled for nearby restaurants, one of the first and nearest options to pop up was the Hilton Hotel at Shillim. While it is a beautiful property for stay, they discourage day trippers from stopping by at their restaurant for lunch. The cover charge per person is high at Rs. 3000.
Mumbai and Pune are the nearest big cities and the only way to reach the lake is by road. From Mumbai, it will take approximately 3 hours, depending on the time of day and traffic. Once you’re out of the city and on the Mumbai-Bangalore highway, take the exit for Khandala and Lonavla. We followed the directions provided on Google Maps and were able to reach the lake without any problems. Alternatively, you can take a train till Lonavla and proceed from there by road. It’s a shorter trip from Pune, which is around 60 kms from Pawna lake.
Pawna lake resorts
Pawna lake has camping sites & resorts on its banks. A quick google search will throw up several family-friendly options that have kids playgrounds, free parking space and on-site restaurants. The average price per person for camping ranges from Rs. 1000-1500. In addition, the nearby hill stations of Khandala & Lonavla provide a large number of stay options, including home stays, villas & hotels. While we were at the lake, there were family camping parties & biking groups. Hammocks laid out between trees, camping tents, picnic tables and doused-out camping fires indicated a fun time spent outdoors.
Things to do
Pawna lake camping
In addition to camping, there is boating available on the lake. For most part of the year, swimming is allowed in the lake. There are several professional groups that organise camping trips. They arrange for tents, set up the camp fire, barbeque at night and organise games & activities.
Pawna lake trekking
Depending on which side of the lake you’re situated, you can go trekking as well. There are historical forts in the vicinity, such as the Tung, Tikona, Visapur and Lohagad forts. Treks to these forts are easy and perfect for beginners. The views from these forts, of the lake & surrounding hill side makes trekking totally worth while. While the Lohagad fort is located further away, it is well maintained & one can see ancient guns on its ramparts. The Tung fort has a temple dedicated to the local deity, Tungai Devi. The ascent up the Tung fort is steep and must be carefully done during the rainy season when parts of the route can get quite slippery. There are few local eating joints near the forts, so it would be a good idea to carry snacks and water when going on these treks.
If you’re looking for more adventurous activities, you can consider going to nearby Kamshet. Kamshet is a hill station located close to Pawna Lake that is known as a paraglider’s paradise. There are gliding schools and experienced professionals to show you how it’s done. Average price for paragliding starts at Rs.1000. The hills surrounding Kamshet village have several caves that also make for interesting treks. These include the Karla, Bedsa and Bhaja caves.
Best time to visit
The winter months, during November to February, are the best months of the year to visit the lake as it is not hot but pleasantly cool. You may also try making a day trip during the monsoon season (June to September) since the incessant rains may play spoil sport with plans for camping.