2016 was an important month on the job front. a new process was announced and I was selected for it. On 2nd October (if memory serves me right) the training started and we had our onshore clients on the floor. After a month long training it was time for the clients to leave. Now the clients who had come were very much jovial and nice enough to interact with us on a more personal level. So we decided to give them a sendoff before they left. After much brainstorming, it was decided that since it was the month of November, when the climate was cold and ideal for trekking, we would go to a hill station.
There a plenty of hill stations in Maharashtra (A state in India of which Mumbai is the capital). But since time was scarce, we decided to go to Matheran which is just on the outskirts of Mumbai. So on 5th November 2016, we decided to proceed to our destination which is just an hours ride away from Mumbai by the local train.
Matheran was identified by Hugh Poyntz Malet, the then district collector of Thane district in May 1850. Lord Elphinstone, the then Governor of Bombay laid the foundations of the development as a future hill station. The British developed Matheran as a resort to beat the summer heat in the region. The hill station is abundant with scenic beauty of the western ghats and the best time to visit this place is in the summers and the winters.
Travelling to Matheran
Being just on the outskirts of Mumbai City, Matheran is easily accessible by local trains and by road. However a point to remember is this is the only vehicle free hill station in India. No vehicles, except ambulances operated by the municipality are allowed inside the city. So if you are travelling by road, you either have to leave your vehicles either Neral Station (the nearest railway station) or at Dhindi point. There’s a toy train that connects Neral to Matheran. From Neral you can avail the toy train or trek 30 minutes from Dhindi to Matheran. Unfortunately, on our day of visit, the toy train was not operational and we had to trek from Dhindi to Matheran.
If you are going to travel by train, then you need to reach the Central Railway and board the train going towards Karjat. We took the Karjat fast local. While I boarded at Mulund, others got in at Dadar. Being a Sunday, there was no rush. One important point to remember is, most of the local trains plying to Karjat are fast – which means they wont stop at all stations. So make sure that you are waiting at the right station to get in. The nearest station is Neral which is around an hour from Mulund.
There are cabs outside Neral which will drop you till Dhindi point for Rs 80 per seat. Once you reach there, you need to buy the entry tickets (dont remember the cost, but its cheap) and then trek.
The uphill trek can take up to 45 minutes depending on the speed of your walk but once you reach the top, the view is simply amazing. The hills and the forests just don’t let you feel tired.
There are around 38 designated look-out “points” (viewpoints) in Matheran, including the Panorama Point that provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding area and also the Neral town. Louisa Point has views of Prabal Fort. Other viewpoints include One Tree Hill Point, Heart Point, Monkey Point, Porcupine Point, and Rambagh Point. There are many hotels and Parsi bungalows in the area. Old British-style architecture is preserved in Matheran. The roads are not metalled and are made of red laterite earth. Its impossible to cover all these in a single day on foot. The best thing that you can do is to hire a horse ride that will take you to the designated view points.
After the trek upwards,, we took a break and then decided to move ahead. Some amazing and wonderful sights greeted us on the way.
The town also has a large monkey population, including bonnet macaques and Hanuman langurs. Domesticated horses for riding are also in large numbers and are one of the symbols of Matheran.Inside the forest animals like barking deer, Malabar giant squirrel, fox, wild boar, mongoose may be found. But these animals are rare in numbers compared to Monkeys and usually don’t venture where humans are present.So most likely one don’t come across them. There have been reports of leopard sightings in Matheran few times in last decade. Leopards are not known to dwell in Matheran. But due to dense forests in valleys surrounding Matheran leopards who are on the roam may climb Matheran.
While in Matheran, be wary of the monkey population. They are always on a look out for eatables. If you are not careful enough, they might snatch your bags and run away. If you plan to feed them, just keep the eatables on the ground and move away. They will just pick up the eatables and go away. Don’t scare them or they will attack you. It’s an awesome sight nevertheless to watch these creatures roaming around in large groups.
The entire Matheran tour can take up to 2 days with around 38 points to visit. But due to time constraints, we just managed to go through a few. But even those few were breath taking and beautiful. After a lunch break and a brief rest, it was time to head back home. The descent did not take long and before we knew, we were at the foot hills. We reached Neral Station at around 5 pm where a local train to Mumbai CST brought an end to this beautiful trip.
A trip to the hills always rejuvenates your soul. Though we were physically exhausted with all the uphill trek and sight seeing, the memories of the trip still remains fresh in the memory.
Before I end this post, some random shots captured in the hills. Hope you like them. Please leave your suggestions and comments in the feedback section. Until we meet again, adios amigos.