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Old 6th February 2006, 11:13   #1
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Default Mumbai-Matheran-Mumbai by road

Sunday, 5th Feb 2006, went to Matheran with my cousin, a friend and his wife to enjoy the fresh air up there.

We traveled in my friend’s new Ford Endeavour.
It has the “Hurricane” gear package, but only two-wheel drive. The Hurricane package includes silver-painted front bumper over-rider and body side cladding, vinyl-sticker graphics, roof rack tray and a chromed rear ladder.

We started off from Mumbai, by the expressway and got off at the Kon-Shedung exit. From there took the old Mumbai-Pune highway towards Karjat. It had also been recently asphalted and was very smooth. We went through the town of Chowk, in the direction of Neral. Before hitting Neral we took a left turn the 21-km long mountain road snaking up the ghats.
The 111 bhp intercooled turbodiesel pulled well and the journey was a pleasure.

The road was just about 1.85 m wide in many places. The Endeavour is itself 1.8 m wide. So I had some trepidation while going up the ghats. Thirty-degree inclines were very common on the serpentine roads.
And oncoming vehicles presented hair-raising challenges.
With those inclines, we very rapidly gained altitude.

The last monsoon (the rather severe one) had washed away the railway line.
And the narrow-gauge toy train has been non-functional ever since. Wonder when they’ll have it up and running again.
So the road is the only way anyone can reach Matheran from Neral.
The Alibag Raigad municipal corp. had just freshly asphalted the roads. They were really freshly dusted. And the railway crossings were totally asphalted over. I guess, they’ll dig the rails out when they’re ready to run the toy train again.

The parking area was packed choc-a-bloc with Maruti van taxis. Amazing that people would entrust their lives on the 30-degree incline ghats to these dimunitive bread-boxes. But the little vans must be really good, otherwise one wouldn’t see so many of them at Matheran.

Didn’t actually count, but there were easily a couple of hundreds of them, dotting the red-dusty Matheran car parking area.

[pics taken on my Nokia 3230]

Last edited by Ram : 6th February 2006 at 11:14.
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Old 7th February 2006, 18:25   #2
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Looks like a lovely place - what is there to do up there and where did you stay?

BTW, hope those vans have good brakes!
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Old 7th February 2006, 21:44   #3
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ashok@ in india u dont rely on brakes to stop thats the job of the gears hope i am right bhpians, atleast i do it that way.
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Old 9th February 2006, 15:42   #4
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Originally Posted by Ashok
Looks like a lovely place - what is there to do up there and where did you stay?
Matheran is a tiny 8 sq.km hilltop town 171 km from Mumbai and 800 m asl.

Motorized vehicles are not permitted in Matheran. That means no mobikes, mopeds, buses, trucks or cars, nor the pollution those vehicles bring. The municipality has provided ample parking space for visitors who come by car and taxi.

After entering the town's main gate, people travel within Matheran on foot, on horseback or human-pulled rickshaws.

Vantage points afford picturesque views of the Western Ghats and valleys all around.
Notable among the points are the Panorama Point, Monkey Point, Porcupine Point,
Louisa Point, Echo Point and the One Tree Hill.

This time around, we didn't overnight at Matheran. We just rode around on horseback, stopping at the various vantage points and the Charlotte drinking water reservoir.
The silence of this beautiful quiet red-dusted hill-station was truly welcome. We lunched by the poolside at a hotel called Brightlands.

Another highlight of Matheran is its beautiful ninety-nine-year old toy railway.
The train with its cute blue and cream wooden cars would take 2 hours to cover the 20 km from Neral at the foot of the hill, to Matheran on the hill-top. I remember riding in the train hauled by a baby steam engine, when I was a kid,

and a dimunitive diesel engine, later on.

The train is currently under renovation, so the tracks had grown dull-brown through disuse.

Last edited by Ram : 9th February 2006 at 15:49.
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Old 21st May 2014, 16:16   #5
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Default Re: Mumbai-Matheran-Mumbai by road

Thought of penning down one important observation for people planning to drive up to Matheran for the first time. Last, I had driven down myself to Matheran back in 2010 in my swift. The climb is picturesque and largely comfortable. However, the last turn before the Dasturi Naka parking station has steepest gradient and turn. My car had about 430 kg weight by virtue of passenger and luggage. As I tried to take the above mentioned last turn on 2nd gear with full AC, the car just came to a halt. It just wont budge after that despite starting from 1st gear. I thought the engine or some part had conked off as it seemed as if the engine was not pulling at all. One of the omni cab drivers who was coming down told me to not to use the inner left lane as it had the steep gradient. He told to rather go for the outer opposite lane and drive on full throttle till the whole turn is negotiated and then back to the correct driving lane. I did exactly and it worked for me. I think my mistake was largely my overconfidence of trying to take the swift on 2nd gear through that gradient with heavy weight and full AC. I probably would have been fine if I were on 1st gear with decent throttle before heading towards the turn. So, just wanted to share this experience to keep folks on guard. The drive is safe - no problems. All kind of cars go up there as I saw in the parking there.
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