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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Matheran.. beauty so close to metro Mumbai

Smallest hill station in India, located in Maharashtra.  It is located on the Western Ghats range at an elevation of around 800 m (2,625 feet) above sea level. It is located around 90 km from Mumbai, and 120 km from Pune.

Matheran is well connected to Mumbai  & Pune by rail and road, while Neral is the nearest rail station. The nearest airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Matheran has a narrow gauge railway station in the town center. The old Matheran Hill Railway offers several daily trains to Neral - this takes some hours for just a 8 km distance but is a railway adventure. The toy train connected to the mainline rail route at Neral Junction. Neral Junction is well connected by local trains from CST along the CST-Karjat route. The train covers a maximum of 12 miles in an hour thereby allowing the passengers ample time to soak in the beauty of the surroundings.

Way we reach to Matheran from Mumbai is Train from CST towards Karjat (there are fast trains available) cost is under Rs. 50 return. These are local trains and have frequency of about every half an hour or so. You'll have to get down at Neral. Once you get out of railway station there are toy train tickets center, but cause we generally make a weekend trip so we usually take share taxi. You will find loads of drivers waiting outside station who will guide you to the taxi point. They charge 60 rs. per person and will take you to point called Dasturi. Road moves like a snake and if you are driving on your own be very careful...
From Neral to Dasturi
monkeys... taxi till Dasturi
 Post this no cars are allowed, i.e. even all private cars have to be parked at this point. You will find huge open parking lot.
Dasturi car park
 Matheran is a pollution free zone. From Dasturi you'll have to buy tickets to enter Matheran p.person 25 rs. From Dasturi there are couple of options either you take a horse ride or you can walk up to Matheran.
Dasturi horse point
 It is almost half an hour walking distance and journey is absolutely stunning. You can start walking along side of railway track and will reach Matheran in no time. Sure to spot monkeys on way. For your own safety do not attract their attention cause there are loads of them...
View while walking up the hill

There are numerous points and once you reach Matheran town center there are loads of guides and will charge you according to the season. Any season is best season to travel there as temperature in Matheran is generally cooler.

Dare devil activities

Early morning view

Tourist map of Matheran

Tourist map

You are sure to love this place!! If you are on a budget, this hill station is the best.... It is generally a  weekend getaway for many Mumbai ppl to get out of traffic and signals.. Jus be there and enjoy nice hot bhaji and chai and some sweetcorn and jus forget every thing...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Trip to Lonavala, Khandala, Aamby valley... Bon Voyage!!!

Lonavala and Khandala:
The twin hill resorts of Khandala and Lonavala have a special attraction not only from Mumbai and Pune but nearing places too. Our favorite weekend spot!!

Lonavala, which is around 96 kms away from Mumbai, is known for the chikki that you get here. Lonavala comes to life during the monsoon season as the countryside turns lush green with waterfalls. . It is good place for trekkers. There is a new mall put up and it is wonderful because of its sheer size and location.

Rajmachi Fort

Rajmachi is a fort located near Lonavala. It height from sea level is 2710 feet. It offers an amazing view of the Sahyadri Mountains and the backwaters of Shirota Dam.  Rajmachi fort is an ideal fort for camping.

Directions to reach Rajmachi Fort: After crossing Khandala Ghat there is a diversion which will take you to Kunhe Gaon, a village from where you can reach Rajmachi or Udhewadi …

Caution: This road to Rajmachi is tough and you will find yourself riding through the mountains with a valley on one side. For trekkers it is place worth visiting. Difficulty level of trek is easy and there are various trekking groups which generally organize treks.
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Rajmachi Point
Rajmachi fort can only be reached by foot and is almost 5kms off from Lonavala. In case you are not a trekker then alternative is Rajmachi point which is view point in Khandala

Rajmachi point

Ryewood Park & Shivaji Udyan
Adding to the lush green surroundings of Lonavala are Ryewood Park and Shivaji Udyan. The stunning gardens are amongst the favorite picnic spots of the children, owing to the soaring trees and spacious open spaces provided by them. An ancient Shiva Temple, situated inside one of the parks, is visited by a large number of people every day.

Valvan Dam
Valvan Dam has a garden at its foot, and is a popular evening spot 2 km from the town. The dam supplies water to the Khopoli power station at the foothills of the Sahyadris for generating electricity. The Kundali River feeds into the dam's reservoir.

Tiger's Leap
Tiger's Leap also known as Tiger's Point is a cliff-top with a sheer drop of over 650 m, giving an extensive view. Buses are available up to I.N.S. Shivaji and the remaining distance of about 1.6 km has to be covered on foot.
Just around tiger's leap, there is a small waterfall active only during the monsoon. It serves the purpose of relaxing in the water better than Bushy dam, as the force of the fall is higher. Also, after the brief steep descent, the fall becomes a stream with a fair amount of force to go all the way down to the base of the Tiger's Leap. Adventurers can trek down the stream whilst intermittently stepping back on land where the water current is too strong and the fall is steep.

Karla Caves
Karle Caves or Karla Cells are a complex of ancient Indian Buddhist rock-cut cave shrines located in Karli near Lonavala, Maharashtra. The shrines were developed over two periods – from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD, and from the 5th century AD to the 10th century. 

Lohagad Fort
Lohagad (literally "Iron fort" in Marathi) is one of the many hill forts of Chatrapati Shivaji.

Wax museum
In competiton to London’s Madame Tausad’s we have our own wax museum and trust me it’s really nice.  I have been to both the museum and you will find this way cheaper.. This one is  founded by Sunil Kandaloor, a 37-year-old wax artist from Kerala. Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Hariharan, Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Mother Teresa, Sai Baba, Anna Hazare, AR Rahman, Balaji Tambe and Yesudas are among some of the famous personalities one will find in here. Entry fee is 100 rs however displays are very minimal but worth visit if you have never been to wax museum.

Adlabs Imagica
Located at 5 kms from Khopoli Toll Gate on Mum - Pune Expressway and 25 km before Lonavala, India's first and very own Disneyland is a theme park with a fresh concept of cinema shows, games and rides for children and adults alike. Sprawling generously on the monsoon magical earth of Khopoli near Lonavala, which is situated approximately 73 kms away from Mumbai and 90 kms from Pune, we have combined this Fairyland magic with an overnight stay at a spacious villa at Lonavala, to make it an even more enjoyable outing with a perfect relaxation!

Aamby Valley City
 ( where famous Bigg boss house is generally put up)
Aamby Valley City is a township developed by the Sahara India Pariwar in Pune district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is about 23 km away from Lonavala. It  is a Megalopolis spread out across 10,000 undulating acres of verdant expanse, snugly nestles amidst picturesque environs of the Sahayadri Mountain Range. This is the nation's first planned, self-contained city and offers luxurious lifestyle facilities eateries and much more than you can ever think of or imagine.

Bushy Dam
A waterfall near the dam is a popular spot between Lonavla and I.N.S. Shivaji

Famous chikki and Fudge shop

Lonvala’s chikki and fudge are famous. One of the shops which I personally visit to is posted below. Although all chikki’s taste the same, I somehow believe that maganlal’s chikki stays for a longer duration. You can taste all the varieties of chikki and fudge at all the stores and then select one. I am very traditional person and love having their shingdana (ground nut) chikki & chocolate fudge

Travelling to Lonavala
If you are convinced that Lonavala Khandala is your next touring place please check out travel options.
From Mumbai 96 Kms
From Pune 66 Kms
Lonavala to Khandala 8 Kms

Nearest domestic airport: Pune

By train : VT (CSTM) or Dadar from Mumbai to Pune and the one’s going towards Southern India halts at Lonavala.

By Road
Scenery on the way towards Lonavala is breath taking. One can spot couple of tunnels, waterfall (during monsoon) and nice Mountain View. It is very common for Mumbaikars to book a weekend getaway in Lonavala.  If you are travelling by 4 wheeler it’s advisable to use Mumbai-Pune express way and take Khandala exit. It is approx 96 kms and will not take more than 2 hrs to reach there. Two and three wheelers are not allowed on the expressway. For two wheelers/ three wheelers, and for those who wish to avoid the toll, the other option is to use the old Mumbai Pune road NH4. From Pune, one can again take the NH4

Important websites
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P.S: Approx cost of your travel may go little high considering it is hill station so food would be little on higher side. If you happen to go during monsoon do remember to take your camera… And yes do bring it back safely from monkeys!!