Heavenly Walk in Matheran
“Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times”. I follow this quote very seriously. After a fantastic trip to Mahablehswar, my target was Matheran this time. It’s a small and beautiful hill station situated at Raigad district of Maharashtra. And the beauty of this place is best seen in monsoon especially in August. A train journey is something I have always loved, so I did not go with any other option. Sahyadri Express is a train that starts from Pune at 7.00 am and reaches Neral in 3 hours. Shivajinagar station was hardly 30min from our home hence, we reached the station by 6.30am, clicked some photos, had an Rs.10 dosa (yes you read it right..and it was tasty too!!) and a kadak chai. How can such a pleasant morning start without a hot cup of tea?
By the time I reached Neral around 9.40am, the weather had become more cloudy and it started raining. Earlier, there were toy trains running from Neral to Matheran, but due to some issues, they had closed it. It ran only between Dasturi Naka to Matheran. So we hired a shared taxi (Rs.40 per person) and reached Dasturi Naka. Thankfully the rain stopped by then and the weather became perfect to roam around.
Oops! Bad Smell..
As soon as you get off from your cab in Dasturi Naka, you will get some bad smell of horse dung (and you might get to see them too all the way). But don’t worry, that smell doesn’t last long. I took toy train tickets and wandered around the place till the train arrived. It felt like I am in a forest; dark clouds, trees all around you, kaccha road, no vehicles, and a small railway track. I couldn’t believe that such a beautiful place resided so near to Pune.
The thing I appreciate the most in Matheran is that it is still free of pollution and no vehicle is allowed there. Walking is the only option once you reach Matheran. Anyways, coming back to the journey part, I was very excited about the toy train as never had I ever sat on a toy train!! As soon as the toy train arrived, people rushed into it as if it were a local train. When I got to enter, I saw, it was too small and cozy. It started slowly and moved slowly all the way (of course, you cannot expect a toy train to run like Rajdhani Express, but yes when we looked out, we realized walking was a much better option).
Finally reached to the place where I had booked an oyo room for Rs. 500 only. The hotel was a good homely place not too big and not too small. I freshened up and left the room by 12 pm because I had to cover most of the places on the same day. My stomach was growling literally so, rushed to a bhojnalaya which served us simple and tasty thali. Food is comparatively costly as Matheran is uphill and donkeys or horses are the only means of transport of everything from the city, hence food items are costly.
Today Google Map is your ekmatra sahara for searching for any place. But thanks to Matheran, which did not allow any mobile network and so mobile was only for clicking photos. So I asked some local people out there to guide me about the path and started paidal yatra. Be prepared to walk or you will have to sit on a horse (which obviously I avoid as I am scared of horses). And as I walked, the weather became more beautiful plus the scenic beauty! It’s just like you are trekking inside a dense forest yet you are not scared. All the points (as in places to visit) are on the same route, so once you are in the forest, just keep walking, follow the direction board and enjoy the foggy weather. It’s such a scenic place that you can hardly resist taking out your camera and capture everything you see. But the fact is, eyes are the best camera in the whole world; what you capture in your eyes is much more beautiful than what you capture in the camera. Due to the rainy season, and kaccha roads, it was a little muddy everywhere. Hence, I suggest you to wear good sport shoes otherwise all if you wear your favorite sandals,kittoos, bellies, you will have to throw them right away.
The first point we visited was quite far and at some point, I wondered whether its the right track. But then, finally saw the board and entered the first point. It was just a plain ground initially but with clouds all around me. As I moved forward and went down, I could not see the view due to clouds, but suddenly the clouds vanished and then what I saw was totally jaw-dropping! All around was a beautiful and deep valley and in the middle, was a beautiful waterfall making it just look like heaven…My eyes were widened for 5 minutes and I thought it was a dream. Sitting on the edge, adoring the beauty of nature, greenery all around as far as your eyes can see and clouds playing hide and seek; it looked as if clouds are trying to hide this mesmerizing view from everyone and then in another moment, letting you see what it had hidden. I was so into it that I was not willing to leave that point until I saw a monkey coming near to me (again I am scared of these little creatures..). Oh yeah, this point is called “Malang point”; truely the name says it all. All my tiredness had gone and we were refreshed by seeing this fantastic view, and then headed towards the next point.
There are many points in Matheran like Alexander point, Louisa point and every point shows a different and beautiful angle of nature. I was so busy watching our steps while walking (because it’s risky somewhat) and at the same time enjoying in the jungle, that I hardly remember the names of the point we visited. One such point was the Honeymoon point which was also equally mesmerizing. Hence, stopped there for a while so that I could breathe in the fresh air and again charge myself. There is lots of walking but it’s really worth it. The vast green valleys look scary, yet the view is just so soothing for eyes!
Hum to Thak Gaye Bhaisahab!
Legs had started paining and I thought of going back to the hotel but, had heard about a lake by the local people, which I didn’t want to miss. So, I had kadak chai in a tapri there (thank God). While sipping tea quietly, tired and thinking to go back, I saw a group of men enjoying the chai. To entertain themselves they had brought a small speaker so that they could dance all the way without feeling tired. I felt enthusiastic after seeing them dancing despite so much walking, hence I decided to go with the flow.
The name of the lake was Charlotte lake; I would have regretted it if I didn’t go there seriously. It was drizzling and the weather was foggy and cold. It felt quite peaceful to sit and watch the lake; but as it started drizzling and the sun was about to set, we could not sit there for long. And thankfully, I got a washroom there (its a big problem for girls to find a washroom)!
It was a bit challenging to return hotel as the paths were confusing plus we did not have the courage to walk to the wrong path. Hence, like a small kid, I did “Akkad bakkad bombay bo”, chose one path and went ahead and yee that was correct! By the time we entered the main area, it was somewhat dark and Matheran was covered in clouds. I was hungry, so I had vadapav.(the only eatable whose price was the same as we get in city). For dinner, I decided that I would eat the homemade dinner at the hotel as the owner’s family also lived there. I washed my legs reluctantly with the cold water, as it was cold there and simply laid on bed. Such a heavenly feeling it was! I kept lying and recollecting the beautiful views we saw today until aunty came with the hot dinner.
Following the Railway Track
It was time to leave the next day and I decided to walk on the railway track instead of sitting inside the train. So at around 8.30am I started and trust me the path was just like we see in the wallpapers! It is so difficult to believe that such a beautiful place resides so near to Pune city. Along the railway tracks, are some small shops that offer tea and biscuits. So, stopped by on one such stall as it started raining heavily and we were carrying our luggage with us.
From Dasturi Naka, luckily I got a bus which dropped me to the station and this way, my short yet memorable journey ended there. Though every place near Pune becomes beautiful during the rainy season, I found Matheran very peaceful and I suggest everyone visit once, in August to enjoy its beauty and take a break from the boring routine.
We, the middle class person have to care for money in priority and have to think hundred times before planning to travel. But it is said that if you are passionate enough for something, you will definitely find the way out! And the thought goes like “Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul.”