SITUATE ON the main train line from Mumbai to Pune, Lonavla was once a sleepy hill station famous for its chikk, a type of caramelized sweet. It has now become an extremely popular weekend getaway for citydwellers from nearby Mumhai. Spread around the bustling main street, lined With souvenir shops, the town offers pleasant walks and is a convenient base for exploring the surrounding hills.

ENVIRONS: About 8 km (5 miles) northwest of Lonavla is Khandala, another pretty town with panoramic views of the scenic Western Ghats. The famous Buddhist rock-cut Karla Cave, 11 km (7 miles) east of Lonavla, dates from the 2nd to 1st centuries BC. The splendid chateau griha  the largest and best preserved of the early Buddhist caves in the Deccan, is the most significant sight here. It has a magnificently sculpted courtyard, a towering 14-m (46-ft) high façade with a horseshoe shaped window, and a large pillared hall with a monolithic stupa. The 20-odd Bhaja Caves, located 3 km (2 miles) off the Karla road, are the oldest in the region, dating from the 2nd century BC. Cave 12, a chaiyagriha,stil contains the remains of wooden beams on its ceiling. On either side of the façade are carvings of multistoried structures with windows and balconies. The Bedsa Caves, situated 9 km (6 miles) southeast of Bhaja, date to the 1st century AD. The roof of the main cave bears faint traces of paintings.

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