Hiking to the Asias only Automobile Free Hill Station - Matheran

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Have you been to the Western Ghats in monsoon?? If your answer is NO, you are probably missing out seeing something insanely beautiful. There are a hell lot of trekking destinations in the Western Ghats like Lohagad Fort, Rajmachi trek, Matheran.. Of all Matheran is an easy level trek and for beginners it's a very good option.

Matheran, the smallest hill station in India lies along the Western Ghats also known as Sahyadri mountain ranges. Monsoon makes it pretty enough to fall in love with the green lush picturesque hills. I envy on Mumbaikars and Punekars for the reason these trekking destinations are close enough for them which can be reached by 2-3 hours of journey and it makes all these places the perfect weekend getaways from Mumbai and Pune.

So this time, it was on my visit to Mumbai. Long back I have read about Matheran, the Asia's only automobile-free hill station which is in Raigad district of Maharashtra. Except the narrow gauge toy trains, literally, there are no vehicles. The photos and narrations by other travellers have already made me note down Matheran on my places to go list.

How to reach Matheran??

Distance from Mumbai is 90 KM and from Pune, it is 120 KM. We planned a one day trip to Matheran. We reached up to Neral railway station from CSTM by train. After reaching Neral by seeing many people on the railway station I was a bit disappointed. It was like a festival ground with all the people around talking, laughing, shouting..

But disappointment was gone, once we started hiking and reaching the amazing viewpoints there. Most of the travellers opt to stay in the cottages over the weekend and to enjoy the rain in peace and of course some will be there to always spoil the mood, spoiling the silent nature by talking loudly and keeping the music on loudspeakers.

Dasthuri park is the end point, where the vehicles have to be stopped which is 8 KM from Neral Railway station. One can reach up to Dasthuri park in their own vehicle or shared taxis available from Neral junction which cost you Rs.80/ per person. On the way from Neral itself, you can see the green -covered hills and small small waterfalls on the roadside. I wanted to get down at the waterfalls. But as we were travelling in a shared cab we couldn't.

After reaching Dasthuri Park, there is three option one can opt to reach Matheran. One is by foot following the train track. Or in toy train from Aman lodge to Matheran. Or on a horse ride.

It is an easy level trek. There are well-defined circuits on the red muddy soil you can hike to, but there is a chance of getting lost in the deep woods often if you don't follow the signboards. We lost our way back and ended up in walking more once during the trail and had to ask some residents there to figure out the way.

There are many cheap priced cottages and stays available in Matheran. As soon as we started our trail from Aman lodge, people came asking whether we need room to stay. They were saying the rates as low as Rs.500. But not sure what are the facilities they provide. Some cottages had swimming pools too which we had seen during our trekking. But we didn't have a plan to stay in Matheran.

Matheran means 'forest on the forehead'. It is declared as an eco-sensitive region. One can see many colonial bungalows which are abandoned now in the deep forests. With the fog covered tracks and occasional travelers along the muddy path, the bungalows looked scary. By evening around 4 'o' clock, rain started without a stop.

Best points in Matheran

These are some of the mesmerizing points we had been to. Most of the time, the viewpoints were cloudy. Occasionally the clouds were clearing up and we witnessed awesome views.

  • Charlotte Lake - It is the main source of drinking water in Matheran.
  • Echo point
  • Honeymoon point
  • Louisa point (Watch clouds touching us here)
  • Sunset point (We didn't see sunset due to rains).

Sunset point

Though we couldn't see the sunset, the view was amazing, with multiple waterfalls on tright side. But it got covered with clouds pretty soon. It was awesome and this is my personal favourite point of the places we have seen.

Echo point
Take out the map, do some research (or not, just go with the flow, but don't regret later) on where to go, there are really beautiful places over there. Decide which one to see.

Viewpoints in Matheran. Courtesy: Google

We had only 1 day with us and missed seeing Garbut point and other awesomeness of Matheran. You cannot cover all the points in a single day.

Louisa point

One of the beautiful things I experienced here is at the blink of an eye, clouds will pass over you and will make you drenched in the drizzle. I was enjoying all the rain with my raincoat on.

Echo Point

It was late by the time my head processed the information of sending postcards to my loved ones from the Asia's only automobile-free hill station.. Maybe next time... 

What to eat and shop in Matheran

  • Chikkis

  • Leather footwear and bags.

  • Honey

  • There will be people selling fresh Mangoes and fruits. Ponder up the taste of freshly grown fruits when in Matheran.

Garama garam Meesal Pav

Freshly made Kokum Water to drench your thirst..

Things to remember.
  • Carry Umbrella and raincoat if you don't want to get drenched. Umbrellas and Raincoats are available for buying near Neral junction and at the entrance of Matheran. Still, you cannot completely stop rain from drenching you.

  • Carry enough polythene bags, to protect your cameras and phones. I didn't have the guts to take out my camera all through the journey, though I took some photos when rain god was snoozing away for a a few minutes. 
  • Beware of wind. The caps we bought, had flown off and my beautiful coloured umbrella had been spoiled by the heavy wind there. Raincoats work the best.

  • If you don't have an intention to feed monkeys, don't take out food items at isolated places.

That food was snatched by the monkey from fellow travellers

  • Try to wear shoes to protect your legs, because due to rains legs will become soft and walking over stony trails is painful.

  • Those with family and kids can opt for using the toy train to reach from Aman lodge to Matheran. Tickets are available at the entrance from the same place where we pay an entrance fee to Matheran. Train from Neral to Matheran will be suspended during monsoons. Although Aman lodge to Matheran service will be available.

  • Cabs are available until 8 PM around, as told by the share taxi driver. But it's better to come back at the earliest when it starts getting darker as the road connecting Neral and Dasthuri park have some curves. Due to monsoons, the road was heavily damaged.

  • Matheran is an eco-sensitive region. Try not to litter around the place. Take the trash back or put it in designated places for the same.

  • If you want to hear music, please use headphones. I have seen people coming in groups keeping music on high volumes and disturbing nature and as well as the other travellers. Don't be a nuisance please.

Though the best time to visit the place is during winters from November to February, I prefer monsoons. Monsoon here lasts up to September starting from June.

Will I go back again??

Surely I will.. To enjoy the monsoons. I could see kids along with parents were enjoying the rain, with their raincoats on.

Friends on the way

This was my first monsoon trekking experience. And I had fallen in love with the mountain chain of Western Ghats.

Some places are just beauty beyond words. Even my photos cannot do justice.

Have you been to Matheran?? Which all points you trekked to?? I appreciate if you share thoughts on the same.

Leave a comment if you like this post or share with me if you know any other Monsoon Beauties.. 


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