We travelled till Neral by local train and from there took a shared taxi till the drop off point. From there one has the option of riding a horse or hiring a hand pulled rickshaw or the most exciting option of getting into the toy train. The year we went, toy train was not running. Otherwise we would have loved to take that option. We opted to walk. It was just after the monsoons, rains were scarce but the tracks still bore the reminiscent of the monsoon just gone by. We enjoyed the walk along the railway track. There were many like us. Matheran is India's only hill station which is completely pedestrianized. Even though we would have preferred a quieter walk just enjoying the beauty around, since it was a weekend that was not possible! We reached the "mall area" after about 30 mins of walking. By that time we were hungry. Verandah in the forest lies beyond 2 km from the main town. The main road is lined by hotels, shops, "resorts", restaurants. There are many " view points" around this road. We stopped at one of the points and totally loved the view of open sky and the mountains that it offered. We had lunch before continuing our walk further to our final destination. As we crossed the town and started our walk through the greenery, we realised what Matheran could have been in the bygone days. Occasionally crossing tourists on horse backs, we enjoyed the much quieter walk.
Finally we were there. At The Barr House / Verandah in the Forest The huge colonial bungalow standing tall amidst the trees reminded me of my childhood summer holidays at my aunt's tea garden bungalows. Huge rooms, huge bathrooms and a long verandah to run around! All the rooms in the Barr house are named after famous persons, we had booked Sassoon named after Albert Sassoon.
I and P only wanted to be there doing nothing. So we were not planning for these many points or that many points sight seeings at all. That way we had all the time with us, just to be!
Evening tea was served in the Verandah with cookies and pakodas. The watchful staff kept a keen eye out as monkeys also turn up looking for some tea-time goodies. Nothing of that happened even though there was a monkey around in one of trees. After chai pakoda, P and I walked till the Charlotte lake and sat there for sometime. There is an ancient Shiva temple called Pisarnath temple at one end of the lake. There were not too many people around as it was getting dark and most people staying near the main area were leaving already. Once darkness falls, crossing the jungle to reach the main area can be quite intimidating. Even though Matheran is full of spooky tales, we didn't encounter any such experience.