Hills and mountains have the definitive charm of their own. The top hill stations flocked by many tourists yet many fail to discover the true hidden secrets of the place. For that you don’t have to travel but there must be an urge to explore the place and which I did effectively on my visit to Matheran. It is a hill station located 80kms away from Mumbai and is always crowded. Yet the place holds many hidden places which is unknown to the people because you need to walk long distances for that.
Matheran is accessible both by railways and roads. From Mumbai it is merely a 3 hour drive through Panvel highway. Daily trains to Neral (the nearest station) are available from CST on the CST Karjat rail route and also trains to Pune stop at this station. Cabs ply from the station premises to the hill station gate and charges Rs.70/- per person. The route cutting down the Western Ghats and crossing the narrow gauge line is fantabulous and since I visited during monsoons it was lush greenery all around. It felt that the mountains have evolved into a new form and the mountains resembled those green one which we find in fairy tale books.
Its peak monsoon season in the western part of India and the sky is overcast and sometimes it was drizzling. One thing worth noting down is that the government doesn’t allow any vehicle to reach atop the hill. So the cabs left us some 5kms away from the station where a big gate welcomed us saying WELCOME TO MATHERAN. It a 2hour walk from that place till you reach the top of the hill where you will find plenty of hotels for your accommodation. The trail is easily spotted with numerous people following the same route. The best one is to reach the nearest station on the narrow gauge line through the gravelled path and then follow the railway line. It led us to our final destination. But what we discovered was a mere spectacle that only monsoon season can provide.Such marvels and wonderful sightseeing only the Western Ghats can provide and it happens only during the monsoon season. Imagine following the uphill trail while the clouds cover your entire view and no wander you get to see only a few meters ahead of you and every step to be taken very carefully. No matter it was an adventure but with a lot of precautions and on top of that incessant rainfall and water gushing from here and there obstructing swift movement trekking to uphill. The eroding red mountain soil adds more to the difficulty but the continuous movement of people uphill adds more to the excitement and thrill. Finally it was managed in a 3 hour span of time. Matheran has its own environment and weather up the mountain where sunshine and rainfall goes hand in hand during the monsoons. If you’re lucky you can spot rainbows arching over the hilltops and yes of course the flat top mountains. If clouds have mercy on you then countless waterfalls will make your stay enjoyable. Prefer to stay in the cottages rather than the hotels on the mall road. The cottages are located further inland and covered by the jungle of the place. So this adds more to the beauty of the stay. No doubt the place is rather safe apart from the drunken behaviour of some of the tourists but nothing that much harmful enough. Its safe for women but since during monsoon the place is too misty its advisable to enjoy inside the rooms rather than lurking out in the streets post 9 PM.
The places of interest in the place are plenty and worth exploring every place namely Charlotte Lake, One Tree Hill, Beverly Point, etc. But you must have that explorer spirit to truly enjoy Matheran. Just by visiting the places you’d google perhaps, Matheran isn’t you destination then. Walk, get wet in the rains, let your body get tired, let the thorns of the jungles prick you and horses come running in your way, that’s Matheran for me. Worth a visit specially during the monsoon season.