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Old 28th March 2011, 13:41   #1
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Default Week-end At Matheran

Yet another travelogue on Matheran, I am sure you all will be bored.

It was the closest getaway we could think of to relax and also to enjoy nature a little.

We started from home on Saturday (26 Mar) at around 11am. Had planned to start early morning but there was some pending work to be completed.

Took the Pipeline road (one from Katai naka to Ambarnath/Badlapur MIDC). This road goes through the MIDC onto Matheran, with branches for Badlapur, Karjat and other stations en route.

Halted at Hedutane village naka to taste the water melons. It was delicious and we decided to taste them again on our return journey. One piece sells for Rs. 5/- I had about four.

On to the MIDC road. The road is fairly good till the branch towards Badlapur. From then on it is narrower and many times full of small potholes. Also at a couple of places some bridge-building is going on and there are diversions. So speeds are restricted to 40-50kmph. On the rest of the roads, it being an MIDC area you will sometimes be trailing heavy vehicles for quite some time.

Once the road ends, you take a right and continue straight. This road is a little better with only light traffic and good tarmac. Continuing straight will eventually take you to Matheran. There's a big kamaan at the entry to Matheran.

The road winds up to the final destination, Dasturi Park. It's a perfect setting for enjoying driving on twisty and blind turns. Some of the ascents are really steep and twice there are signboards telling to shift to the first gear. And you better obey!

Adding to the complications are the numerous railway crossings where the mini train is likely to cross your path (or vice versa). It would help to know the train timings so you can avoid getting into an uncomfortable situation. The actual turns are pretty tricky, steeply banked on the right and with barely enough space to maneuver your own car properly. Follow F1 and approach the turn from extreme right, making sure you are as close to the inside of the curve as possible when you are at the apex. A word of caution: The road is actually difficult, so do not attempt it if you do not have complete control over your vehicle and full confidence on your and your vehicle's ability.

Once we reached Dasturi Park we drove into the parking area, it's actually part of the forest allocated for parking. The ground is rocky and if it's rainy season there's every chance your car will scrape its bottom. So it's important you watch where you are going. We parked at the end of a small trail going to the other end of the small wood. I did see a monkey sitting atop a Tavera, but otherwise there was no monkey menace to be seen in the car park. Of course if you have kids and eatables around, it might be a different story.

After paying the parking fee and entry tax (parking Rs. 35 for a day and entry fee Rs. 25 pax) we started the climb. Halted for tea near the Aman Lodge station. We reached the market at around 2pm and scouted for a reasonable accomodation. After enquiring at about five different hotels, finally found a room at Paramount for Rs. 2500 till 5pm next day.

Standard check in/out time here is from 11am to 9am, covering 22 hours. Rates are usually including food. A good idea would be to pay only for the lodging. Then you have a big choice in terms of what to eat and where to eat.

The hotel sent lunch to our room. We rested and then in the evening went out for a stroll. Next day we visited the Charlotte lake, Lord's End point and Echo Point. Returned to the room at around 2, had lunch and again rested. In the evening started the journey back. Walked for an hour to reach Dasturi Park. The car was intact, no monkey/human induced scratches. The foliage had to be cleaned, though, but nothing that a routine wipe won't clean. Checked the fluids, started the car and gradually eased it up to the entrance. Paid Rs. 10 for an additional day's parking and drove out. Tested the brakes on the slopes and then started going downhilll (literally). The train service had long been stopped so approaching the railway crossings was less tense.

A note: The crossings are easier to take when descending, as you can view at least one side of the track till far. When climbing, you are blinded on both the sides.

Within a few minutes we had reached the familiar road and took the journey home.

Nothing exciting, but what the heck! I enjoyed driving on those twisty roads!!

Edit: the whole economy of this hill town depends on 'imports'. Virtually everything has to be shipped from the surrounding villages and towns up onto the hillstation. So expect to pay much more than what you are used to. For e.g. tea typically sells for Rs. 8/- at stalls, while shops may charge you upto twice as much. Baraf ka gola costs Rs. 20/- for the cheaper variety and Rs. 40 for the malai variety.

There are several pool and hookah parlours as well as numerous joints where you can take a shot at winning your lady luck (read: gambling). Directions to various points are sometimes elaborate and sometimes completely absent. Unless you are wandering off into the woods in the early mornings (say around 6am) or late nights, you can always find some locals and ask them for directions. The locals are pretty nice and decent. I haven't heard of any crimes nor witnessed any fights, verbal or physical. So it's a very pleasant experience. Since the locals depend on the tourists for almost all their income, expect to be pestered to no end by the horse keepers and others.

Last edited by honeybee : 28th March 2011 at 14:08.
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Old 28th March 2011, 14:24   #2
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Default Re: Week-end At Matheran

Nice description !

Can we have some pics also with this travelogue ?
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Old 28th March 2011, 14:49   #3
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Default Re: Week-end At Matheran

Dang, now that's a pain. You see I have an old Nikon FE camera, which works off the good old film. So you will have to wait till the film is over and developed and printed. I can't promise, but over the weekend someday...
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Old 5th April 2011, 11:17   #4
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Default Re: Week-end At Matheran

thx for the details. Matheran, though very popular, has always remained on my "list" and a trip has never happened.
Some questions abt ur description:
- A matheran travelogue always mentions about the "horse-travel". You havent mentioned it at all. Is it possible to go to the various points just by walking? (Q: Is it possible carrying infants?)
- "The train service had long been stopped so approaching the railway crossings was less tense.". So, the train from Neral is no longer there ?
- Hows the weather out there now? Is it good to visit in Apr or shall i postpone my first Matheran visit to the monsoons?

thanks in advance.
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Old 5th April 2011, 13:16   #5
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Default Re: Week-end At Matheran

The train from Neral to Matheran is out of action only during monsoons. However, it makes about eight trips to and fro in the whole day. My comment meant that we crossed the tracks during a gap between two trips.

Horseback riding is very much there, only we didn't go for it this time (partly due to my fear of it). All the points are surely trekkable on foot, but they are spread over a large area. Apart from horseback, you can also hire wheeled carts. If you are planning to take an infant with you, you could hire a cart and have the mother and infant sit in it while you accompany them on foot.

If you are fond of walking and can, there's nothing like walking on the various trails.

Right now the weather is a little hot. This means for about two hours in the afternoon when the sun is at its peak, you will feel the heat in the room. We reached there at about 1:30, but didn't sweat much even though we roamed around for a half hour in the sun. However the second day it became very hot inside the room (because of a tinned roof). So for outdoors, it's still very much pleasant. Early mornings and evenings have cool breezes flowing. So it's as good a time as any!

If you are planning to take any babies/toddlers/elders there, I suggest go now, instead of waiting till the monsoons. There are virtually no roads up there, except a paved one in the market. During monsoons due to the loose soil and the rocky nature of the trails, the paths are often slippery and muddy. This is conservative advice. However if you are planning a small adventure, there's no other season like monsoon!
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