Monsoons are incomplete for Mumbaikars, (popular name tag to people residing in Mumbai), without a getaway to Lonavala. Approx. 110 km from the western suburbs of Mumbai, it’s somewhat of a tradition to visit this buzzing weekend hotspot. Over the weekend, we decided to explore the green surroundings of the popular hill station that is a must-go-to for all Mumbaikar. This time we decided to take a slight detour towards Pavana lake which is equally popular and more picturesque in its settings.
Considering this is a tried and tested route for almost all residents of Mumbai, directions are no big deal. For the tourists eager to explore the place, it’s a very easy ride, just follow the trail of cars on the road early Saturday morning, pick one of the SUV swelling with merrymaking family or youths or in today’s time, you can just set your GPS to assist and you will find yourself hitting the Mumbai-Pune Highway in no time. The only smart advice is to pick a time as early as possible for your departure, else traffic blocks can hold you back within the city for a long time.
With the back of the trunk swelling with every possible must-haves a mommy can think of, we started the drive with a shout of excitement from my 9-year-old Jeehan, and a prayer to our favorite elephant God – Lord Ganesh. The superbly cool and refreshing early morning breeze set the mood for the journey ahead, a short drive ahead, we were met up by a few friends – Neeraj, Sapna, and their 7-year-old Aarush were joining in with some more of their friends for the trip. Since both the little ones share a common school, they seemed to have a lot of talk about and share, from music to Beyblade spinners and more…the relentless chatter kept the noise quotient – high.
Anyways, following the Santacruz expressway, we drove from Mankhurd towards Panvel onto the Mumbai – Pune Expressway. A halt at the popular food court is a must for the most favored meal of the day starting with the Vada Pav. While it remains an all-time favorite, this place also has other interesting menus to choose from, the Kanda-pova, methi-vadi, onion pakoda, upma and Chai, jo Ghar ki yaad dilaye (for some reason chai has to be homemade variety, even when you travelling outside home.)
Journey onwards, we exit at the Khandala bypass, heading towards Pavana dam lake road. The stretch towards Pavana lake is simply beautiful, the lush green appeals to all your senses, setting the mood further. We took a few halts to enjoy the breath of fresh air and enjoy the landscape, Jeehan and Aarush seemed equally enraptured by their surroundings.
Driving down the scenic and winding road to Pavana, Jeehan who was looking out the window, yelled with surprise and delight, “Mommy, Dinosaur Park!” he pointed to a sign. As we looked out the window, indeed there it was, right off the movie set and nothing short of spectacular as before us stood a majestic gate with the sign“ Dinosaur Park”.
We watched with amazement and with some disbelief, alas since we were lagging behind the other cars, we couldn’t even stop to make inquiries. Nevertheless, I immediately got onto the internet to browse more about this park, we had just passed by. Within a few minutes, I was on a call talking to Radhika, someone who deserves a mention for her very efficient and courteous response to my umpteen queries about the park. She even mentioned a good group package discount as we were over 10 people. Apparently, the pricing is the same for kids and adults alike (kids who are 3 years and less are given free entry). So with a promise to drop by on our way back, we continued on our journey.
As usual, Pavana lakeside delights, with picnickers from the neighboring locations, it attracts attention to its picturesque location. It has the mountains at a distance, with the clouds enveloping it, the lake which flows from under the mountains, the cliffs and a pristine beach add to the rustic beauty of the place. The view lingers even when you away and calms your mind instantly.
The boys just couldn’t curb their enthusiasm at seeing the clear water in the lake and slowly edged towards the banks. I let go of my anxiety, it is a relatively safe water body for kids to splash around. Slowly, gradually, the drizzle had turned into hurling showers and we had to run for cover towards the restaurant shed nearby. By now the entire group had gathered, so we decided to indulge in some hot pakodas and chai which seems a staple request at this restaurant. Once again, post our snacks, we left to explore the lakeside camp.
Time sure flies, especially when you having fun and today was no exception with the group of some old and some new friends, the ambiance and of course the never-ending stream of conversation, we were having a blast! By now, the kids had started to pester us to get back to the Dinosaur Park and knowing there was no escape we decided to head back.
On arrival at the huge gate once again, we headed straight to the customer service counter where we were met by Neena since Radhika was away. Neena guided us towards the entrance to the park. Generally, they have a guided tour of the place, but since, we have running behind schedule, I decided to give it a skip and explore the park on my own, which wasn’t too daunting as the park has some strategically placed signages giving information about the sights we see. Besides, the park map and leaflets give us ample information on what lies ahead. I was told it takes approx. 2 to 3 hours if you at leisure to cover the entire park area, however, with an Electric Vehicle called Dino Carts, you can zip around the attractions if you are short on time. With the boys running helter-skelter in wonderment to see their favorite dinosaurs come alive, it was a task to keep up with them, Jeehan seemed quite confident and knowledgeable about the species on display and had something interesting add-ons about the dinosaurs’ characteristics.
I have to remark that the park settings, topped with the almost eerie weather, enhanced the experience double folds, making us feel as if we were on location of Jurassic Park itself and that by any measures is no ordinary feat!
The Dinosaur Park is spread across 9.5 acres of land, it has 36 different species of the TALLEST, LARGEST, WEIRDEST, and LONGEST life-size animatronics dinosaurs set amidst undulating walk-ways, innovative edutainment activities for the young and old alike.
The place was sprawling with some interesting robotic dinosaurs strategically placed making it look life-like. To add to the drama there is a good sound effect added to the displays. My favorite was the larger than life herbivorous dinosaur eating the tree leaves, called the Ankylosaurus. The ferocious Spinosaurus trapped and enclosed in a chained harness and perched atop an armored truck still intimidates anyone.
The park boasts of a 12 seater 9D Action Cinema. Plans are afoot to build a 24 seater 4D cinema too to screen regular dinosaurs movies.
The company has some dynamic plans for setting up a Chocolate factory which is to come up soon. How it’s made – behind the scenes Hollywood Wax Museum, Aquatic – an aquarium and underwater trek is also expected to open in September. Besides these other attractions like Bird Park, Grand Shooter Firing range, U-Pik Herbarium also expected to open on August 15
As our visit came to an end, we bid adieu with a promise to return for an exclusive and more extensive dekho of the park. We conclude with a big thumbs up to the park for all the efforts put in by Mr. Madan Patil the owner and management of this amazing theme park for coming up with such a nouveau concept for the tourists to experience. I recommend the park as a must visit for families and youths alike. The Dinosaur Park has everything to thrill Dinosaur lovers and the thrill seekers.
For an elaborate and more detailed itinerary of the park and its timings, you can visit their site www.dinosaursparks.online. Also like their facebook page, where you may chance upon an event or participate in an ongoing contest. https://www.facebook.com/dinosaursparks/