Lavasa – One street wonder

Pegged and marketed as the first hill station after the British Era in India and is designed based on an Italian town – Portofino. At least that is what the designers claim. The images and colors of the place paint a vibrant picture of the town. The place began its construction around a reservoir of a dam so the central feature is a water body with activities dispersed around it. Architecturally it becomes an interesting layout with various functional and scenic possibilities opening up. To travel to such a place is a matter of curiosity. The general assumption is that the British did not leave any place to be explored by the Indian’s later. The best of the hill spots were already developed as hill stations. The place also remains in news for other development related controversies.

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Promenade around the reservoir

One of our relatives has bought an apartment on the banks of the reservoir, giving a perfect excuse albeit a budgeted one to spend a weekend there. The weather also plays host wit the inviting cold temperatures. Just enough to make you feel cold and not enough for the sweaters / jackets to be worn.

The place is situated about 180 kms away from Mumbai or about 60 kms from Pune. We traveled by road from Mumbai in a car and the route you have to take is via the Mumbai – Pune Expressway. Personally, my favorite road as it is the first expressway in the country where even though the speed limit is about 80 km/hr, I have driven in the range of 150 – 170 km/hr. There is sheer adrenaline rush on this road as it is a 4 lane highway with very sparse traffic.I believe the scenery if any gets missed at such high speeds. After you get off the highway, there is still a drive of about 50 kms left and this is where in patches, it is unbelievable that it leads to a 10000 acre township, modern township.

However, as you reach closer there are signs of development nestled within greenery. There is a glimpse of the township from above near the entrance which gives you a clear picture of what is on offer.  The brightly colored buildings neatly line one side of the water body while there a little larger buildings on the other side, possibly community buildings. This keyhole view sort of finished the curiosity and replaces it with excitement of the reaching the place as fast as possible.

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The view before entering Lavasa

The closer you get the more you realize that the growth is stunted. By the end realized that it was a boon in disguise.The place is very small and you really get to be yourself in the space. Anyways the colorful picture of Lavasa – the Portofino imagery a little further down.  These brightly colored houses dominate the landscape and sit pleasingly well with the waterfront. The waterfront has a public promenade, then lawns of the buildings and the then the apartments with balconies overlooking the same. A section that architects dream of. Certain aspects of the designing are so beautiful that the international awards seem justified.

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The architecture of the waterfront

Our apartment was in one of these buildings on ‘Portofino Street’. The view from the apartment is a pleasing one. With the water, the club house and the mountain on the other completing a frame that I wish to retire to. Take a book, a rocking chair and spend hours with a cup of coffee. The calm water is therapeutic and helps you wind down the big city weariness.  In a place where there is a full pantry , usually my cooking devil wakes up. Sadly, the only thing is know is how to cook instant noodles. So went and bought them, started cooking. The wife stepped in and finished the rest. We spent a good part of that day relaxing in the house. The place generally lacks activity.

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Club house across the water body

In the evening we went for a walk along the promenade. That is the place with maximum activity. There are water sports, adventure sports, bicycles for rent and of course all the restaurants line up here. Across the water there is the club house and community center. The place has the ingredients of becoming a pivotal point in lavasa tourism, once it starts developing further.  That evening we had a quite dinner along the waterfront without real satisfaction. More on it below.

The next day we traveled to X-thrill which is approximately 8 kms away from Lavasa on a completely undeveloped road. Reaching the place is an adventure and gives the feeling of off-roading on certain patches. It takes about 40-45 minutes to cross from one side to the other.  This is the only place in and around Lavasa that is jam packed with activity. Starting with Rappelling, there are individual events like Burma bridge, rifle shooting, archery to group events like Paintball, raft building and other such events The price is also affordable for an adventurous afternoon.

At X-thrill – Rifle Shooting
This is one for the shutterbugs

We tried our hands at shooting and archery where I piped my wife at shooting and she beat me hands down at archery. She even hit the bull eye and she was trying for the first time! An Olympian in the making I would say! The next adventure was to cross a valley on the zipline. It is not an actual valley – you could even cross it on foot. But just for the heck of it, we crossed it on the zipline which was the followed by the Burma bridge. It was a fine act of balancing and tandem work albeit a fun one crossing on the Burma. You realize how important it is to understand what the other person is dong and then try and support.

My wife and me on the Burma Bridge

The thing that impressed me the most is that the safety precautions seemed to be in place. I’m no expert but I felt safe in the hands of the trainers there. I believe being in the army makes you more responsible (the place is run by an ex army personnel).

In the evening we went to the dam for a drive, clicked some pictures there. Sadly, again the rest of the even had to be spent along the waterfront on the promenade. Later in the evening we saw a movie – not that it is a recommended activity on a vacation but the lack of options really leave no choice. The place could also do with a few good pubs with good music to relax.

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The Dam

Vegetarian Perspective
On the first day we tried our hands at the the Pizza vala. It was really ordinary and took an awfully long time to be served. The second we went to chor bizarre. Overall the experience was non satisfactory or I would re frame it as ordinary. The standard of the food here can improve by leaps and bounds especially if a good crop of tourists are expected.

There are no alcohol shops within the limits of Lavasa. The pubs charge a fortune to buy bottles. The fringe villages are using this as an opportunity to fleece tourists with the same. If you plan to consume alcohol, it is a strong recommendation to carry the same from Mumbai or Pune. 

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The promenade at twilight time
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Lavasa at night

As the conclusion, would I go there again? May be not now. May be a few years down when there are a few more options, a few more activities to indulge in, or if I am old enough to sit the whole day on a chair with coffee and a book. Would I retire here? Yes, definitely. Is it a tourist spot that I can recommend? If you traveling from nearby cities like Mumbai or Pune, you could spend a weekend here but if you are coming from far and wide, this place is skip-able.

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