Udaipur - The Fascinating blend of art, tradition and Rajputana culture

We visited Udaipur in September 2015. For just one night and two days. We felt our trip was too short and would suggest to at least stay for two nights in Udaipur to get the true feel of what this royal city has to offer.

Tip: Ola/Uber cabs are available here so you can rightly book them for a short trip and negotiate for a full day sightseeing.

We spent the evening on the first night on the banks of Lake Fateh Sagar. There are a lot of road-side eateries and that's where we had our dinner too. Lots of food options are available. If one has been to a lot of lakes before, this place is surely not extraordinary. If one has a tight schedule, this place can be skipped for good!

City Palace Udaipur
The next day we left early after some morning photography at our resort - Ramada Udaipur. We hired an Ola and asked him to drop at the Lake Pichola main entrance. We enjoyed some delicious poha and tea at a roadside stall which is just opposite to the entrance gate. (We regret not remembering the gate number) It definitely was worth every penny.

We entered the lakeside and we knew the first thing we had to do was boating! Definitely it was one of the most pleasant boat rides for a long time. The pleasant atmosphere was just one thing  and the splendid surroundings, lake palaces, backdrop of mountains were another !

We were left spellbound seeing how many semi-submerged palaces (read: lake palace) were constructed on this lake over time! What was even more astonishing to see was how they remained safe and sturdy even after centuries! A couple of lake palaces have been converted into hotels like the "Taj Lake Palace Udaipur" and they are a visual treat. Don't forget to capture a glimpse of the "Jag Mandir" while on boat.

The 45 minute ride on a deluxe boat cost us ₹ 500 for two. But the experience was for a life time!

Lake Pichola Udaipur
For those having time up their sleeves, can surely take the rope-way to visit the temple located on the hills near the lake. Since we didn't, we hired a cab to reach what is perhaps the most famous tourist place in Udaipur - the City Palace!

It was a 20 minute cab ride. The City Palace is a mammoth structure! We could have spent an entire day at the museum housed inside the city palace. We would suggest to spare at least 3 hours for this place to get a true feel of history and culture. The museum has a great antique collection right from the 13th century to present day . (Yes, the present Maharaja does exist and reside on one portion of the city palace which is closed for visitors!) We found their photos in the musuem. We even searched and found him on Facebook. Hahah! 

The city palace has lots of specifically dedicated rooms for art like Bhim Vilas (miniature paintings of Radha-Krishna) , Chhoti Chitrashali(for paintings of peacocks), Sheesh Mahal (mirror art) amongst others. The art work is sublime! 

Tip: Cameras are not allowed and are to submitted at the locker at the entrance.

There is a lot more to Udaipur than this like the Jagdish temple, Sajjan Garh, Kesariyaji Temple, Saheliyo ki Bari (garden) but well let's leave that for some future trip - we thought! To be honest, we were short of time!

Cheers and Happy Travelling!

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There is more to Jaipur than just Forts and Palaces - The Royal "Rajputana" Cultural Heritage

We visited Jaipur in September 2015. Although it was a hurried 4 day tour of Jaipur and Udaipur, it left a long lasting impression on us.

The city of Jaipur which is a globally popular tourist place is more than just its forts and palaces. There is definitely a royal touch,  a mystic sense of royal aura that oozes out of its Rajputana "Royal" culture, tradition and people as well. Although the city has evolved as a modern capital of the state of Rajasthan, what amazed us is the manner in which the history of the "pink city" with its grandeur has been kept intact.

We boarded the overnight bus from Ahmedabad which takes around 14 hours from Ahmedabad. Buses can be conveniently booked online. The frequency and options of transportation between Gujarat and Rajasthan is definitely never an issue.

The Stay

We stayed for 2 nights at the Royal Orchid Central hotel which is on MI Road. Be careful when booking Royal Orchid as they have two hotels there - one  near the airport and the other one which we stayed in at MI Road. It is a 4 star hotel with modern ambience and suited our taste and requirements. Some travellers may prefer staying at a heritage hotel having a traditional "Rajputana" touch to get a larger than life feel of the pink city's culture but that we would say is a personal choice. Jaipur has so much to offer anyway that even if you stay at a modern hotel, you would not really feel left out! We would suggest to stay on or near M.I Road as it is near to quite a few of the famous sightseeing places like Jantar Mantar as well the traditional markets are nearby. That way we saved a bit on transportation!

Our top 6 memories of Jaipur, The "Pink" City !

1. The street shopping at Johari Bazaar, Nehru Bazaar and Bapu Bazaar

Johri bazar Jaipur

Spending the evenings shopping or simply window shopping at these amazing pink themed markets would definitely not let you down! Here, we got a feel of the true meaning behind the city being called a "pink" city. The variety of items you get to see is simply unbeatable. With some haggling and bargaining we got some really good deals. THIS is the place to collect your memoirs of Jaipur! The long series of pink themed shops and the traditional items on offer takes you back in time and the experience is unbeatable!

2. The cheating Autorickshaw wallah!
Pink city-pink shops-jaipur

Well, this shouldn't be on top but unfortunately it is. We boarded an auto from our hotel and he promised us to drop at the "best market in town" for just Rs. 20. (Wow, we thought!). To our utter disappointment he dropped us near a building at a secluded area. The basement of the building had  a single big shop and he obviously got compensated for dropping customers there. He explained to us that the main market is "closed today because of some procession". We'd never been fooled like this ever before. We felt cheated right before we could have glimpse of anything in Jaipur. Somehow we left the place amongst their constant persuasions and pressure to buy something. We suggest you to clarify with the autowallahs beforehand about exactly where you want to go to avoid being trapped.

3.  The Full Day tour to the famous places - Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Jantar Mantar, Jal Mahal, Birla Mandir.

Jantarmantar Jaipur

Read full details of our day trip at these most popular places of Jaipur here.

4. The Golden Hearted Samaritan who returned us our lost mobile phone.

Broken Mobile

Click here to read the story of our lost phone just outside Jantar Mantar

5. Absolute stunning cuisine and ambience at Handi restaurant

Handi Restaurant Jaipur

We were told it's a famous restaurant and we didn't have enough time to visit Chokhi Dhani which is the benchmark for traditional cultural experience of Jaipur, we zeroed in to Handi. The food was delicious and the ambience was gratifying!

6. The huge influx of foreigners

We're not sure where they are from, but they are there in large numbers! And there is this innate gene inside every Indian which fills us with pride when a foreigner appreciate the beauty of the land. Their abundance is a sign of their love and respect for our country and we truly appreciate that in the right spirit!

Indeed we understood in its true sense why Jaipur always has a special place in Indian tourism. It definitely deserves a part of being in the "Golden Triangle". 


Stirctly avoid summer. All the important places of sightseeing are outdoors and there is no way one can bear the heat and enjoy at the same time. Winters are ideal.


Finding a cab for a day tour in budget is sometimes not easy. Hotels charge exorbitantly! There's a save though. We booked Ola Cab for a short ride from our hotel on M.I. Road to Jantar Mantar and during this short trip we negotiated with the driver for a full day tour. (The previous day we had already inquired the market rates). He agreed and logged out of Ola to stay with us for the whole day. It was a win-win. We have noticed that drivers of Ola/Uber and other standard operators are usually polite enough and refrain from ripping us off and we suppose one of the reasons is that we can give driver ratings and reviews!

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We followed Jaipur with Udaipur, the experience of which we will be sharing soon!

Cheers! And Happy Travelling.

How would you plan a day trip to top tourist places in Jaipur? Here's how we did!

Our September trip to Jaipur left an everlasting impression. There is definitely a royal touch,  a mystic sense of royal aura that oozes out of its Rajputana "Royal" culture, tradition and people as well. Although the city has evolved as a modern capital of the state of Rajasthan, what amazed us is the manner in which the history of the "pink city" with its grandeur has been kept intact.

Amer Fort Jaipur

First things first, if you are looking to visit Jaipur then it has to be ideally in winter and at least not in summer! All the places mentioned below are outdoor visits so there is no way one can bear the brunt of the heat and enjoy these places at the same time! Jaipur gets really hot in summer.
Hava Mahal Jaipur

Secondly, hire a cab! That's the best way to have flexibility as well as convenience. Mind you, at some places like Nahargarh Fort you would not find cabs or any other means of transportation available. Hence it is wise to pre-book a full day cab in advance.


Here is a pro-tip that we made use of for finding a full day pocket friendly cab:

NaharGarh Jaipur-inside

Finding a cab for a day tour in budget is sometimes not easy. Hotels charge exhorbitantly! There's luckily a save though. We booked an Ola Cab for a short ride from our hotel on M.I. Road to Jantar Mantar and during this short trip we negotiated with the driver for a full day tour. (The previous day we had already inquired about the market rates for a full day cab). He agreed and logged out of his Ola app to tour with us for the whole day. It was definitely a win-win. We have noticed that drivers of Ola/Uber and other standard operators are usually polite enough and refrain from ripping us off and we suppose one of the reasons is that we can give driver ratings and reviews on their respective apps! 

(Off topic: While negotiating with the Ola cabbie, one of our mobile phones fell on the streets outside Jantar Mantar while we were getting down from the cab. Here's the story about how we found it back!)

Our Itenerary was like Jantar Mantar > Amber/Amer Fort and Sheesh Mahal > Nahargarh Fort > Jal Mahal > Hawa Mahal > Birla Temple 

Jantar Mantar Enterance-ticket Counter-Jaipur

Make sure to buy the composite ticket - a single ticket which gives you access to all these places. We'd mentioned and also shared a picture of the composite ticket in this previous post.

If you are judicious with time, you can squeeze in Jaigarh Fort as well which is en route Naharagarh Fort (Although it is not included in the composite ticket!)

 Jantar Mantar hosts the largest sundial in the world. We were absolutely amazed how our ancestors managed to develop such an accurate and advanced astronomical system. Without a guide we would have not understood anything so a guide is must here. The rates of guide are fixed by government at around Rs. 200 for a human guide. Audio guides (earphones) are also available at a fixed price and they are perfect for solo travellers. We noticed that the guides could speak quite a few languages apart from English and Hindi. The audio guides are available in a few foreign languages as well like Spanish.
Amer Fort-Jaipur

Amer Fort is perhaps the most talked about place in Jaipur. It is big, really big! And there are lots of things to see inside ranging from, lets say the Sheesh Mahal to the palace of concubines! The Sheesh Mahal was a stunning visual treat. A guide can help here but  is not absolutely necessary since there are important notes put all over for reference. There is a facility of hiring elephants to reach the Amer Fort from the base. We didn't hire the elephants because we were not sure how they're treated or fed. Also the terrain is not even. Elephant rides at Amer Fort have been a controversial issue since long from the perspective of animal activists.

Sheesh Mahal At backside-Jaipur

Amongst all, the Nahargarh Fort we'd say was the stand-out place of interest. Although it is the farthest , Just don't miss it! From Nahargarh Fort you'd be able to have a bird's eye view of the entire city of Jaipur and indeed it looks incredible! In fact you can also distinctly identify the pink parts of the city. It gives a sniper like feel and it is the whole city in one frame. Absolutely phenomenal and breath-taking scene!

Breath taking View-Nahargarh Fort-Jaipur
We observed Jal Mahal from a distance in the evening and it looked truly unique with the perfect reflection on the clear waters. It almost seemed like history has been captured in a frame till eternity. Although we heard that the structure of Jal Mahal is in a sorry state, we found it perfect to be revered from a distance - the banks of the Man Sagar lake.The Hawa Mahal was cherished on our return from across the market street. We have already seen so much of it in pictures that it didn't really amaze us as much as it should have. But still a great place to grab a few camera moments! The structure which resembles the crown of Lord Krishna is indeed unique. We walked across the markets from here on and it was satisfying evening walk. The markets of Jaipur are definitely the most imminent part of the Rajputana culture. We saw a brief glimpse of the Birla Temple only from the outside so can't comment much on it. 
Jal Mahal - Jaipur

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Cheers! And Happy Travelling.

Hotel Review: The Westend Matheran

We recently posted about our entire experience at Matheran which you can read here

But it would be incomplete without our review of our accommodation: Hotel Westend Matheran (Category: 3 star):  

We stayed at Westend Matheran during our short trip  of 2 days in July 2015.

On the day we visited, it was pouring on and off. Once we reached the hotel and glanced through the cottages, initially we were like “How are we gonna live here!”. We doubted the facilities, cleanliness and comfort of a cottage located in the midst of nature’s lap with incessant rains. But to our pleasant surprise, things were taken care of quite professionally (except a few things) inside the rooms.

The Location:
Westend is located towards the end of the market which meant that we had to trek through the entire market before we reached the hotel. Though a bit faraway from the market, it is conveniently located to visit some of the “points” . We would rate it 3/5 for location

The Service:
The service was good given the circumstances (mild to heavy rains) Food could be ordered in-room and the staff arranged for the dining table and chairs in the room or in the lobby depending on where we’d want to have our food. Staff responded well to our minor queries/demands/complaints through the intercom.

The Food:
Since Matheran is a vehicle free town, it also means that we have to walk a lot and at the end of the day we got quite exhausted. We couldn’t imagine ourselves going back to the market just for our dinner! Most of the meals were at the hotel – be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. Food served was quite good and prices were acceptable – neither too cheap nor too costly.

The Surroundings and Ambience:
There is a large clean and well maintained pool but we didn’t use it in the damp, rainy and cold weather. The areas inside the resort are  nicely decorated with a variety of flowers. A badminton court is available too. Overall the ambience was quite relaxing and pleasant - A nature lover’s paradise indeed.

The rooms:
Rooms were neat and clean. Hot water was always available. Bathrooms were neatly maintained. We indeed felt safe and cozy inside our rooms.

Overall we would rate our stay 4/5. Some lapses in service but very much acceptable. Would recommend!

Read our review Hotel Bombay Palace Pahalgam here!

The Complete Matheran Guide - Part 3

This post is in continuation to our last two posts where we share our experience of Matheran!

Here are the previous posts:

A Complete Guide to Matheran Part 1
A Complete Guide to Matheran Part 2

Now that we have reached Matheran which are the places we'd visit? What did we visit? Here's the map of sightseeing of Matheran:

matheran map guide
Matheran Map of Points of Interest!
The map may look too cluttered and one might wonder that 2-3 days are not enough to have an entire feel of Matheran. But well, that's not really the case. A Matheran trip should at the max be of 2 nights according to us, since you would not really need more time that that to explore the place fully.

Eco point-Matheran

Most of the points look the same, once you get a feel of how it looks like from the top because after all it is hills and hills everywhere. The best way to explore would be on foot. But there's just too much of walking so at the end of the day-1 itself you would be exhausted walking. We were! But the trek of the first evening was spectacular to say the least. Here are some pictures from the trek. The scenery was mesmerising. The roads were mostly deserted because of the rains. The solitary trek of around 2 hours was one of the most memorable. So the next day we had two choices, Whether to hire pony/horse or to hire a hand pulled single-person cart.

Carts cost more than horse/pony.
Trained Horse-No need of Horse owner-Matheran

We obviously chose 3 horses for the three of us. A single guide controlled all the three horses! That is to say that he steered two horses with hands while one was left at will. Initially it looked insane but the horses are well trained and one really does not need to bother about. Our horse ride was quite comfortable unlike a few of our horse rides at other places (like Vaishno devi temple and Mount Abu).

Quite a few of the points remain closed during the rainy season because of the risks involved. So if you are venturing in monsoon  do get  informed about which points are manoeuvrable. Otherwise the horse owners may rip you off.  Also, they do sort of make fake promises about taking you too "n number of points" while negotiating but at the end you realise that they just create too many "points" out of their whims and fancies to get the money! Bargaining is a must but do keep in mind about their hardships and labour when negotiating. A good tip at the end is always welcome.

You may start at the Charlotte lake which looked brilliant to us. From there walk a bit further to the echo point and lousia point. A small temple is located en route.
At backside charlotte lake and one small temple

There are 28 points on paper. You may visit the once as per your deal with the horse owner but do include a lunch break in-between at MG Road and perhaps a point from which you can view the toy train!

For the Adventurers

Adventure seekers may try Valley crossing at Honeymoon point which involves crossing a portion of the mountain hanging on a rope! It definitely needs some guts to try and also it is one way. So you may ask the horse owner to pick you up at the other point. This and a few other points are closed during rains. We would have not tried it anyway haha as we believe in a safe and relaxed travel over anything else!


Never ever keep your belongings loose during sightseeing. There are a lot of monkeys/langurs and they snatch anything and everything if kept lose. We escaped a serious mishap when we kept our backpack on a bench at Charlotte lake point. While we were busy captugin pictures, a monkey opened our bag and took away another small bag inside it which contained some very important personal things. Khushbu noticed it just at the nick of time and removed her sandals and threw it on the monkey in a split second.(An ultimate presence of mind from her!) Thankfully the monkey left the bag before disappearing into the bushes of the mountains.

They Posing for us! Matheran

Also, during our evening trek amidst the rains on the first evening, a street dog walked with us through the entire trek! That looked very cute but only until we reached near the market and found it fighting ferociously with another dog over some let over food on the streets. We immediately decided not to entertain any dogs at Matheran from that moment!

Horse Rides are usually safe but recently there was a news of a kid falling off and dying (very unfortunate). So it pays off to act responsibly and inform the owner beforehand to be careful and attentive.

Tip: It is better to fix a deal to only 3-4 points and spend more time at each place then to rush through all the spots.

Happy Travelling!

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The Complete Matheran Guide - Part 2

The Adventurous toy train ride in Matheran

toy train at enterance of matheran

This is the second part of our Matheran Guide based on our experience and here we are gonna talk about the wonderful toy train! as well as other options to reach Matheran from Dasturi car park. If you missed the first part here's the link.

Apart from the joy ride and spectacular sightings including streams and greenery one more advantage of taking the toy train is that it helps you omit the stiff climb by road as discussed in the last post.

There is a catch though! The toy train from Neral to Dasturi takes around 2 hours while the road takes only 20 minutes. During the summer months it can look painfully long. One more thing to keep in mind is that during the monsoon months of July to September the toy train is usually closed at all times. So this option is out of the list.

However there is a save! From the Dasturi Car park, you CAN board the train to Matheran town and this route is usually open even during monsoon. This is perhaps the best of both worlds. So you can climb by the road and reach Dasturi. From Dasturi take the short toy train trip of 20 minutes to Matheran town. The views are spectacular and the train is slow, enoyable and comfortable.

Toy Train-Matheran

If you want to take the toy train from Neral itself, you can easily find the time-table online. However, you cannot pre-book it online. You have to buy it at the Neral railway station itself on the day of travel itself or you can buy it 3 days in advance (which is not so possible for travellers!).

Dasturi Car Park to Matheran Town

that's out porter! treking towards our hotel-Matheran

The distance from Dasturi Car park to Matheran town is around 4-5 kms. We trekked the whole path alongside the railway track, This trek was one of the most exciting part of our trip. The rains playing peek-a-boo, the lush green scenery and red soil! What more can you ask for? We hired a porter for our luggage, put on our raincoats that we had bought (Always pre-check the weather conditions before travel - click here to know more about our travel essentials) and took out my Nikon D5300  for some initial clicks!

The trek took around an hour with breaks in the middle. The route is straight and not sloppy. The soil was muddy because of the incessant rains but the surroundings and the weather made it exciting. En route you can check around the hotels if you haven't booked already. We had pre-booked at The Westend Hotel which is located at the farther end which meant we had to cross the entire market and further trek to reach the hotel. (Here's the review for The Westend, Matheran)

Hand pulled cart-matheran market

If you do not want to trek, you can very well hire a pony or you can also hire a hand pulled single-person cart. (The carts are similar to the ones you see at your nearby mall!, oh, not really lol)
see rain drops in picture-horses stand-market matheran

While returning from Matheran, we boarded the toy train uptil Dasturi car park. That short  ride of around 20 minutes was exhilarating! The train runs at a snail's pace but that gave us an opportunity to click some good pictures, being the "piccrazy" people we are!

Well, this was not the only toy train ride we took, a similar but longer(5-6 hours!!) to train operates from Kalka to Shimla (yes, the queen of hills and the ex summer capital of India). Read more of our toy train experience in Shimla here.

A Complete Guide To Matheran - Part 1

Hello, Travellers! Here we share our experience at Matheran, an exciting hill station near Mumbai through a series of three posts as follows:

Matheran for weekend a short trip - The complete guide Part 1

Matheran is a popular weekend hill station, perhaps the nearest among all the tourist hills from Mumbai. The geographical and other details of the place is easily available elsewhere online so here we would talk business! What we mean is we present you a practical guide to this awesome place based on our own experience. (We visited Matheran in July 2015). Whether you a backpacker, a family tourist or a group of friends, this guide will definitely help you while you're there!

Why and What is it famous for!?

  1. The red carpet! Is it? Not really. Haha. We are talking about the red sands and soil.
  2. The fresh and refreshing pollution-free atmosphere. (The secret: No vehicles are allowed here! Yes, you read it right, Except an ambulance perhaps nothing else is permitted. Neither two-wheelers or four wheelers or upteen wheelers. Then how would you travel? Keep reading to discover)
  3. The toy train ofcourse.
  4. The post-monsoon lush green flora and fauna(read monkeys primarily?)!


Depending on the season, your trip to Matheran may turn from ordinary to extraordinary to incredible! The best time to visit is perhaps post-monsoon or during monsoon. 

We visited mid-monsoon and it got incredibly exciting with the rains playing hide and seek throughout the day, the clouds making almost hourly rounds over our cottage (The Westend Hotel - an awesome place to stay in Matheran and which we have reviewed here). Thus, July to October for the greenery and November to February for the cool weather - are ideal times to visit this place. 

The toy train services from Neral to Matheran are usually closed from July to September due to bad weather so consider that too. However, here's something I didn't find anywhere else during our reasearch before the trip - the toy train functions between the stations of Matheran and Dasturi car park (Entrance of Matheran) even during monsoon. This is a short (around 20 min) and enjoyable ride. Both these stations are located after the climb to the hill. Read further down on how to reach to know exactly what we are talking about..

How to reach Matheran?

Matheran is only about an hour from Mumbai. 

One does in fact needs no guidance on how to reach Mumbai, does one? Lol still here's a small tip - flights to Mumbai are quite affordable because of it being a popular hub of flights flying across north and south India. And during the months of Indian monsoon i.e July to September , frequent flight offers are spotted. Grab one of these offers and take a cheap flight to Mumbai if travelling by train for you is too ordinary! (We were three of us and got a good deal from Ahmedabad - 3 return tickets for just around 7000 INR)  So, keeping long things short, taking the flight to Mumbai is of course an option if your pockets are slightly on the heavier side. 

From Mumbai, you have the option to catch one of the sub urban trains that take you to Neral. The following image (with highlighted red circles) explains you exactly which route to take to reach Neral. Mind you, Neral is a stoppage only for local trains so dont board the express trains or else you will have to reach Karjat and backtrack from there. You can take either the Kurla route or the Mumbai CST route trains depending on where you're coming from. If you are coming by air to Mumbai then Kurla is the nearest station. Travel by train only if you are not having substantial luggage or if you are 100% sure that you can manage the luggage and of course yourself in the rush. Mumbai suburban trains have heavy rush during peak hours. The tickets are dirt cheap in general class and taking first class tickets are not really that worth it. This is the most economical option. 

Location guide of Matheran, Neral and Karjat stations and how to reach there!
If not by train, you can hit the road.

The distance is approximately 110 kilometers from Mumbai.

Reaching Matheran Ghat Road

Take Mumbai-Pune Highway(NH-4) upto Chowk Village and turn to Karjat road. From Karjat, the same road goes to Dasturi Naka, i.e. entrance of Matheran via Neral. 

Get on to the Mumbai Pune Expressway at Panvel (Near McDonalds). Get onto the expressway to avoid the congested road through Panvel. Take the first exit (Shedung/Khopoli Exit) that comes less than 5 minutes after you get onto the expressway at McDonalds. (Here you will need to Pay a Toll at the toll-booth for using the expressway). This exit gets you back onto the Old Mumbai-Pune Road. Follow directions to proceed towards Pune. Once again you will have to pay a toll for using the old Bombay Pune Road. (Toll in both places is about Rs.25 each).

Follow the old Mumbai-Pune road for approximately 10 km. This will bring you to a crossing where a big green sign asks you to turn left for Karjat/Matheran. (Do not miss this crossing as otherwise you will end up in Khopoli. There is a large statue of Hindu god Shiva on right side of the old Mumbai-Pune Highway which can be seen from a long distance. The left turn about 50 metres before the statue).

9 km After turning left you reach another crossing called Charphata Karjat where you need to turn left towards Neral.

11 km After turning left, you will reach the bottom of the Matheran Hill ghat road. 

From Pune

Use the Pune-Mumbai expressway and get off the Pune-Mumbai Expressway at the Khopoli exit after passing Lonavla/Khandala and get onto the old Pune-Mumbai road. Turn right after around 18 kms into Chouk town. Follow the signs from then on.

One can also exit Pune-Mumbai NH4 at Haal Phata near Khopoli to enter SH 35 which will take you straight to the bottom of Matheran Ghat Road.

Further from Matheran Ghat road

Here you will find the taxi stand from where you they take you through a climb of about 7 kilometres to Dasturi car park which is the entrance of Matheran. The climb is having lots of V turns without borders, so in case you are coming by your own car, it is advisable to get a local driver for the climb. They are easily available. If you have hired a cab, we would advise you to board off the cab and take the shared taxi from the taxi stand (Around 70rs per pax - fixed rate). The drivers are impeccably reliable so you can enjoy the scenery instead of worrying about the slightly dangerous roads.

From Dasturi Car Park

In our case, from airport we reached Kurla station via cab and took the suburban local train from Kurla to Neral (and thus saved approx.around 2000-3000 bucks on taxi). From Neral taxi stand we took the shared taxi to Dasturi car park. It was a short but adventurous climb of around 20 minutes and we reached the Dasturi Car park, This is the last point till which vehicles are allowed. There is a small entry fee to enter Matheran town. Here are some breathtaking nature pictures that we captured on our way above.

Read the next part to read about our exciting trek from Dasturi Car park to Matheran town on the red soil! And if you do not want to trek there are other options too. All that in the next part below:

Reviews: Hotel Bombay Palace, Pahalgam

Pahalgam is in our opinion the most fascinating place in Kashmir!

hotel bombay palace pahalgam
View from Hotel Bombay Palace captured using selective color feature of our Nikon D5300
The gustling sounds of the continuously flowing water of the Lidder river brushing the black rocks and the lush green riversides with the backdrop of even greener mountains marked our entry in Pahalgam. We are talking about the month of June. We were told that the entire place is covers with snow in winter which starts around September-October and lasts till March.

We stayed at Hotel Bombay Plaza which is a boutique 3 star hotel near Lidder river. And we can declare it with no doubt that it was the best that we stayed in, in terms of hospitality and service.

The hotel is located around 2 kilometres away from the main market though  and one has to cross the main market to reach here which you may take note of. But we will share a protip here : Enjoy the banks of the Lidder river and the surrounding garden near the main market while entering Pahalgam before checking in here. We did the same and that way we didn't have to go back 2 Kms again.

For the rest of the places worth visiting (Read: Chandnwari, Aru valley, Betaab valley and Baisaran) transportation is arranged by hotel itself. The prices are fixed so we didn't need to worry about that.

We reached the hotel around 2 pm. The check in was smooth. The manager quickly arranged for carrying our luggage without having to ask for it (basic courtesy but missing at many similarly priced hotels). We were five adults and were given two adjacent rooms on the very first floor without having to ask for (That was probably the best thing to happen since there is no lift).

We had a breakfast inclusive plan but since we had to leave early morning next day we requested for replacing breakfast with dinner and charge us the difference. They gave us 50% discount in dinner. (Mind you, the same was refused at another hotel in Jammu). The veg dinner was delicious to say the least. There was this guy called Sohail Khan who served us chappatis with what seemed like a motherly care. Incredible. 

The rooms were small but comfortable with wooden finishings. Electric blankets were available. Wifi service was not mentioned in my booking package but they gave us the password on request without any extra charges. Before bed, I complaint of mosquitoes in room and they promptly arranged for mosquito repellant sprays as well as liquids. The one thing which they can improve upon is the cleanliness of washrooms. We won't say they weren't clean but could have been better.

Our check out was smooth as well even though we had to leave at 5 am. Sohail, the guy I mentioned above, woke up timely and arranged to transport our luggage to our car and filled my two empty bottles of water on request.After we left the place, we remembered that we had forgotten to get bills for our sightseeing taxi. (We had to get the bills for later reimbursement) I called. Mr.Ashiq who is one of the managers I suppose, and within two days he arranged and had sent us the bill on Whatsapp as promised. Awesome!

We would really like to thank the hotel for their excellent services and making our short stay at Pahalgam memorable. You guys are as amazing aa the place itself.  We would love to recommend this place to anyone.

Overall we would rate it 5/5 for their hospitality especially.

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