Matheran Experience: Matheran is a small, densely forested plateau at an average altitude of 700m AMSL, approx. 100km drive from Mumbai. Motor vehicles are not allowed in beyond the Dasturi car park at the top of the Neral Dasturi ghat road. Coolies, ponies and hand rikshas are available at Dasturi. Hotels are available at all budget ranges.
Food, sight-seeing and shopping: Most hotels and all shops are around the station area which is a good half hour walk from Dasturi.
There are several well known view 'points' which are best reached by walking or on horse back through densely forested trails. Almost all offer equally good views of sunrise and sunset. Just after the monsoons, butterflies abound and wildflowers delight the senses. The Charlotte Lake is also a good spot with its monsoon fed waterfall.
Activities & things to do: Walk or horse ride through the many forest trails. Nature lovers can delight in the varied wild flora. Huge Blue Mormon butterflies are common and Matheran Giant Squirrels can also be spotted on higher branches of trees, as well as golden langurs. Watch out for the ubiquitous bonnet macaque monkeys who will certainly snatch any packets or food out of your hands. Wear sturdy walking shoes or sandals and carry a stick to beat off naughty monkeys.
Travel tips, How to reach, travel warnings etc: One can get to Matheran by car via Chowk Neral and ghat road to Dasturi carpark or toy train from Neral station or by mini ST bus plying from Neral and Karjat stations to Dasturi. From Dasturi rent a horse or a hand pulled riksha. Or simply, walk! Take the railway track route if walking from Dasturi to the market area as it is an easier walk with good views of the forest and the valley below.
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