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Lonavla officially Lonavala is a town and a hill station Municipal Council in Pune district in the Indian State of Maharashtra. It is about 64 kilometres (40 mi) west of modern-day Pune city and 96 kilometres (60 mi) from the city of Mumbai. It is known for its production of the hard candy chikki and is also a major stop on the railway line connecting Mumbai and Pune. From the Pune suburbs, local trains are available from Pune Junction. Both the Mumbai-Pune Expressway as well as the Mumbai-Chennai highway pass through Lonavala.
Lonavla and the adjacent Khandala are twin hill stations 622 metres (2,041 ft) above sea level, in the Sahyadri ranges that demarcate the Deccan Plateau and the Konkan coast. The hill stations sprawl over an approximate area of 38 square kilometres (15 sq mi). Tourism peaks during the monsoon season. The name Lonavla is derived from the Sanskrit lonavli, which refers to the many caves like Karla Caves, Bhaja Caves and Bedsa that are close to Lonavla. A trip to Lonavla and Khandala can be combined with sight-seeing visits of Karla, Bhaja and Bedsa caves and also the two fortresses, Lohagad and Visapur. Another place of interest is the Tungi fort, one of the forts captured by Malik Ahmad near the village of Karjat and was known for its natural strength. The Andharban trek begins from village Pimpri, passses through dense forests, valleys and waterfalls and ends in Bhira.
Already, an increasing number of young families are making Lonavala their home, since it offers a good quality of life and a decent commute to both Pune and Navi Mumbai. It is only a matter of time before Lonavala becomes an end-user driven residential market
Located between Mumbai and Pune, Lonavala – ever-popular for its scenic beauty, excellent weather, greenery, historical monuments, ancient caves and hangout spots – has always been a popular destination for weekend and second homes for both cities.
It also is likely to become a satellite town for both Pune and Navi Mumbai in the future. Given the economic activity and employment generation in Navi Mumbai – which now has the potential to become a serious office district – Lonavala can mature from a mere weekend getaway into a residential investment hotspot and end-user-driven market. Once the Navi Mumbai international airport becomes operational, Lonavala will stand to benefit from excellent air connectivity.
The rising office stock both in Mumbai and Pune has increased the demand for training centres in the region, and Lonavala is already home to the corporate training centres of L&T and Tata.
Lonavala has excellent boarding schools, spiritual retreats and alternate medicine centres, and is also a well-established senior living destination. The town has become the most preferred choice for celebrity events and conferences. As the concept of destination wedding picks up, Lonavala is also witnessing increasing demand as a venue to host weddings, especially ‘monsoon weddings’.
Already, an increasing number of young families are making Lonavala their home, since it offers a good quality of life and a decent commute to both Pune and Navi Mumbai. The current trend for new residents is to rent accommodation first and then go on to buy homes.
Distinct lifestyle contrast over its bigger neighbours
In Mumbai, rapidly increasing population density, gruelling commutes and extremely high real estate costs have compromised the quality of life in the financial capital. Left with little choice by the unaffordable property rates, a significant part of Mumbai’s population lives in far-flung suburbs like Karjat, Kasara, Kalyan, Virar and Panvel and travel two hours – one way- each day to reach their offices in the Island City.
Meanwhile, Pune’s city limits are also expanding due to the rising population; meanwhile, escalating real estate costs and the steady erosion of its once scenic areas are insurmountable market realities. Some of Pune’s residents – most notably IT professionals – face daily hour-long drives commuting between their work places, (e.g. Magarpatta to Hinjewadi, Magarpatta to Chakan or Talegaon).
Locations which are within a comfortable driving distance from both Mumbai and Pune are these cities are now in high demand – and Lonavala, situated only 53 km from Navi Mumbai and 55 km from Pune, therefore assumes renewed importance.
Given these dynamics, it is only a matter of time before Lonavala becomes an end-user driven residential market. Aware of this fact, developers began creating land banks in and around the town several years ago with the intention of build lucrative projects to tap into the demand from buyers seeking to take the advantage of low prices and favourable locational attributes. In fact, several notable Pune and Mumbai-based developers have already launched projects over the last couple of years to leverage rising residential demand in this hill station. Prominent names now targeting this region include Tata Housing, Kalpataru, Puranik, Ajmera and Lakhani.
Over the last two years, the average y-o-y appreciation for residential real estate prices has been in the range of 7-9%. Currently, residential property prices range from Rs 2,800-4,000/sq.ft.
The average rental rates in Lonavala are less than or at par with a few locations in Mumbai and Pune. In Pune, rents in areas like Hadapsar, Viman Nagar and Nagar Road range from Rs 14,000-18,000, and the travel time to Hinjewadi is more than one hour. As an alternative, it is possible to pay a rent of Rs 10,000 in Lonavala and still benefit from a rational commuting distance to Hinjewadi.
Similarly in Mumbai, people paying rents in the range of Rs 20,000-30,000 for homes in old, run-down buildings and travelling to offices in Navi Mumbai can rent a home in Lonavala around half the cost and still save on travelling time.
While the train network on the Lonavala-Kalyan-Thane-Navi Mumbai and Lonavala-Pune routes is well-established, there is need to enhance direct train connectivity between Lonavala and Panvel. Once this is achieved, this hill town will become a preferred alternative for residents of both Pune and Mumbai.