The rainy season for me in Mumbai isn’t complete if I go out of the city and smell the fresh air of the Sahyadris that become nothing short of paradise in this season. I usually go for a drive alone or with my friends. So, this monsoon, for a change, I planned a family trip with my parents, siblings, nephews, and nieces to Lonavala. I managed to avail a reliable and licensed car rental from Mumbai to Lonavala, which would be with us throughout the trip. When traveling with family, especially with children, it is important to ensure that your travel becomes hassle-free.
To make it more experiential, we decided to stop at Imagica theme park before reaching Lonavala. After all, what could be more fun than being a child with children and enjoying thrilling rides under a pouring sky!
Imagica is about 70 KM from Mumbai city (via Mumbai-Pune Expressway), in the district of Khopoli. Driving outside the city is always refreshing, but more so in the rain. The remote suburbs and the rural areas go under a green cover and the air smells musty. If you want to stop on the way, Panvel, Rasayani, and Savroli are good options for a quick meal or just to take a break. Snaking through the highway traffic, we reached Imagica in an hour and a half.
Did I say that it was my first time in Imagica? Well, despite my love for amusement parks, I never managed to visit this largest, themed amusement park in the country. After all, it’s best enjoyed with a big group, especially with kids. The huge complex is more than just rides. It is a complete entertainment district spanning 140 acres, no less than a town within itself. There is a water park, a snow park, and an endless number of adventurous rides, which would be more than enough to cover in a day. That is why many people choose to stay over at the park and make the most of its leisure offerings. There are arrangements for traveler accommodation at the luxurious retreats onsite, so people can enjoy all the park amenities over a course of two or three days.
A day in Imagica
We started with the land rides and kid-friendly rides, and then we moved on the high-thrill rides, sky-high rollercoasters until we screamed with joy. But the most exciting part was the snow park, where the temperatures were way below than one could imagine. For the hour or so we were inside, it felt like being in a quaint alpine town. With constant flurry, castle-like structures, ice sculptures, and igloos, it was truly a winter wonderland in the middle of hot and humid Mumbai monsoon. The main activities began around the evening. As the park lit up in bright, neon lights, it turned into a lively party town, with street parades, life-sized mascots and famous pop culture characters walking down the streets, making it exciting for kids and adults alike. By popular demand from the rest of the family, we also managed to catch a Bollywood show, where artists dressed as famous movie characters enacted iconic scenes. My nephews and nieces, and even I were more fascinated by the virtual reality shows at the 3D & AR Park.
After a few rides, dining, followed by more rides, we were exhausted for the day and resorted to one of the lovely retreats around the park, and catch up on some sleep before we headed to Lonavala the next morning.
The day welcomed us with a heavy shower, making it a little messy in the park, but soon, as we hit the highway towards the hills, it felt splendid. The rain-soaked hills of the Western Ghats had painted the horizon in green with streaks of white waterfalls.
It was barely an hour’s drive from Imagica and we reached Lonavala town in no time. Even if you are traveling directly from the city, the Mumbai to Lonavala distance can be covered in a little over two hours.
Now, Lonavala is every Mumbaikar’s favorite weekend retreat, more so for mountain lovers. And even if you are not, the rains always end up making you fall in love with the verdant hills and misty valleys. No matter how many times I have seen the place and walked its trails, camped around its lakes, Lonavala never seems to grow old for me. And every time, it feels like a new experience. We had booked a nice family cottage on the shores of Pawna Lake, with a pool and garden, where we ended up spending most of the time, lounging, swimming, and enjoying my father’s special barbecues. Later in the day, everyone went fishing and boating on the lake, while my sister and I stayed over, enjoying the peace, for a change.
I have explored Lonavala so much that I can close my eyes and walk through every corner. So, this time around, I treated it as a completely relaxing vacation, absorbing the serenity of the hills, and listening to the sounds of rain, and letting myself float into fantasy in the dewy and dreamy weather.