For my birthday weekend, I wanted to go away somewhere, just to get out of the city so we went on a bike trip to a place called Lavassa. Lavassa is India’s first purpose built hill station resort about 60km to the west of Pune. It is still under construction and won’t be completely finished until after 2020. Regardless of that you can still visit and it is already popular with Puneites looking to get out of the city into the countryside.
We set off about lunch time from our flat and using google maps on my iPhone, navigated our way out of Pune. The roads were really busy and it seemed to take us over an hour to get to the outskirts of Pune and we only got lost once, which is good considering I was the one reading the map!
The ride out of Pune was really beautiful as it was so lush and green everywhere. There were lots of rice fields, farmers and small villages everywhere. The air was really fresh and it was so nice and quiet!
|Surrounding views on the trip to Lavasa|
About ¾ of the way there, we came across a massive dam, the Temghar Dam where we stopped for a few minutes to stretch our legs and admire the view. The dam was quite impressive.
Just a couple of minutes drive up the tight windy roads, we stopped at the top of the dam to see the view. There were loads of people posing for pictures and eating freshly cooked corn on the cob from one of the many street sellers that were cooking on open fires by the side of the road. I’d never had corn from a street seller, so we decided to try some. It cost 10 rupees per cob and it was cooked by a man and his young daughter on a small wooden cart. It really was delicious! The flavouring the guy put on it was amazing, it tasted of tomatoes, chilly and salt. It was so good; however I then had corn stuck in my teeth for the rest of the journey which felt awful and was all I could think about for the rest of the journey!
|On top of the Dam.|
|On top of the Dam.|
|Cooking the corn.|
The higher up the mountains we drove the cloudier and rainier it got, which wasn't good as we stupidly weren't prepared for the rain. I had just a cardigan on and Tom had only a t-shirt on. We did start to feel a bit cold then.
The drive also became a bit more risky and scary as the ground was so wet and some of the tight turns in the road were very steep. The surroundings were still pretty though, as all along the side of the road were waterfalls cascading down the mountain. Lots of people had stopped their cars to have family pictures taken and standing in the waterfalls, despite the rain. We didn’t want to stop as we were so cold, wet and fed up of the rain, we just wanted to get to the hotel.
We finally reached the entrance to Lavasa where we got pulled over by security at the security gate just to ask our name, which seemed a bit strange. Security checks here in India can be a bit odd. Some of them seem a bit pointless because they don’t actually check you properly, so it seems like ‘What’s the point?’
There was still another 10 or so minute’s drive down the mountain before we actually reached the main part of Lavasa. Our hotel, The Mercure was at the far end of the lake that runs through Lavasa and I was so glad when we got into our room and were able to dry off a bit.
After a little while we left the hotel and walked through the building site that was the surrounding area towards the lake. All along the side of the lake were bright coloured buildings that reminded me of somewhere in Europe. It was a really strange place; the designer had obviously taken inspiration from Europe. It really didn’t feel like we were in India at all. It was a bit surreal.
|View from our hotel.|
|Muddy water lake.|
|Multi coloured buildings.|
|Not very Indian.|
|Nice grey day.|
We had a quick walk around along the promenade next to the lake and had a look at the few shops and restaurants that were in the ground floors of the buildings. We settled on having some dinner in The American Diner, which made it feel even stranger, being in an American restaurant in a place that looked and felt like Europe but really we were in India.
|In the Diner.|
|Waiting for food.|
As we’d got wet again walking from our hotel to the restaurant area, it was really cold in the restaurant, because it had its AC turned on, we just couldn't get dry!
After our meal of Hotdogs and Burgers, we went into the English Pub a short walk away. Once again the AC was on, but it wasn’t just cold in there it was freezing! As we drank our pints of Tuborg, I got a bit worried about Tom because his lips were turning blue from being so wet and cold! He told me that they weren’t really going blue, he had just wiped his mouth on his blue t-shirt and it was dye from it. (I later found out that this was a lie he told to stop me worrying and his lips were in fact going blue!) We did ask for the AC to be turned down but it didn’t seem to make too much difference.
The English pub was nice but it was a bit like an American theme park idea of an English pub and felt nothing like what we’re used to at home. It would have been really nice if there was a nice open fire for us to keep warm next to.
|Pub 'n' pint!|
After a few more drinks, we left the pub and braced ourselves for the dark wet walk back to the hotel. It was so dark and treacherous as the street light hadn’t been installed properly and it was also essentially a building site with rubble and holes in the ground everywhere. You had to really concentrate when walking down the road. The paving stones that they had used on the path were also ridiculous as when they were wet they were so slimy and slippery! We both nearly fell over a few times and decided to walk in the road and risk the potholes!
The next day we went for another wet stroll down towards the lake to see what there was to do. It turns out, not very much. We had a small piece of cake each from the small bakery there which was very nice.
|Really cute bakery, Grandma's Kitchen.|
There was supposed to be an entertainment games arcade that had a bowling alley in it, so for a bit of fun before we left, we decided to check it out. It was on the ground floor of a large building at one end of the lake. When we opened the door, we were greeted by a large room that was practically empty. It was dead silent, with two very small bowling lanes, no other games machines and there were no people, well apart from two members of staff who stared straight at us as we walked which made us feel extremely uncomfortable. We left as quickly as we could as it was all a bit weird and uncomfortable. It was odd because the information about it at the hotel made it out to be some really fun place to go with the family. Well there was nothing there!
Next to the arcade was another hotel, The Fortune Select Dasve, probably the most expensive in Lavasa. As it was really starting to chuck it down again, we went into the hotel to the bar and had a cocktail each while we waited for the rain to stop.
|The Fortune Select Dasve.|
|In the bar.|
Unfortunately it didn’t stop, but it was getting late so we just had to risk going out and face the trip home on the bike. This time though, we were a bit more prepared. Tom wore my rain mac and I covered up with a thick shawl.
We were hoping that once we got out of the valley and out the other side, we’d be out of the clouds and it wouldn't be raining anymore, but that unfortunately wasn’t the case.
The ride home seemed really long and we did have to stop halfway there for 20 minutes so I could get the feeling back into my legs and bum. The seat of the bike is so uncomfortable after a while! I was in agony and dying to get off it!
When we arrived home, we were soaked! It hadn’t stopped raining at all and every piece of our clothing was wringing wet! Despite that though, it was a really good trip. It was good to get out of the city and into the quite of the countryside. Lavasa was nice but I think it’d be even better in 10 years when it’s all finally finished.