Going to Maharashtra was truly a treat and a highlight of our trip to India. Every time we go to India, we hardly end up having any time for traveling or sightseeing, because of course we love spending time with our family and friends. This time, we had a great balance of both, and I'm so so happy that we got to travel to Maharasthra, a state in Western India that I've never been to. We stayed at my Mashi's (Aunt) house in the city of Pune, and from there traveled to Mahabaleshwar, Lonavla and Panchgani - three surrounding hill stations that are accessible in under two hours by car. Each of these places was different, and offered up some absolutely breathtaking views that my photographer self just couldn't resist. It was super fun to do a mix of phone and camera photography!
First up, we went to see the Karla Caves near Lonavla, Maharasthra. The caves - which are actually Buddhist shrines - were carved from the mountainside by Buddhists around between the 2nd century BC and 5th century AD. It's amazing to see a structure that is thousands of years old, and built without the ease of modern technology and architecture, still standing in its ancient majesty. The actual caves, high up on the mountain, are not accessible by car, so you have to drive to the foothills of the mountains and then take the rest of the way by foot - climbing about half a mile up an ancient staircase carved right into the mountain. The stairs are actually quite sturdy in most areas, but there are quite a few flights that are crumbling and slippery from being polished by the foot traffic of thousands of visitors. The entire way up, there are plateaus where you'll find dozens of tiny shops selling snacks, drinks, fresh nimbu sharbat (fresh squeezed lemonade), handicrafts, souvenirs, jewelry, flowers and other temple offerings, and sweets. It's definitely tempting to stop and look until you realize how many stairs you have left to climb!
But, it was absolutely worth it to see the caves in all their glory. What made the climb better was getting to meet a few adorable puppies along the way - like the cutie pictured below!