January 6, 2014

A year end trip to Matheran

This post has been languishing in the drafts for a while now. I was down with an upset stomach after returning from the trip and was caught up in the year end frenzy after that and could not complete it.
Coming back to the post, we decided to do a trip to Matheran since the season seemed perfect to go to a hill station. Anytime is perfect to escape to a hill station when in Mumbai, actually, since it is never too cold here. We picked Matheran after reading about it being an eco friendly place and a nature lover's paradise. Matheran does not have too much to offer in terms of "hill station type" tourist attractions per se- no boating or flower garden or adventure sports. It is a hilly region that is full of viewpoints from where you can catch the sunrise, sunset or other breathtaking views.
Matheran View

If you are driving to Matheran, you have to park your vehicle at the Dasturi car park and hike from there onwards to reach your hotel. We chose to make it an out and out train trip since we wanted to experience the famous Neral Matheran Toy Train ride. Tickets cannot be booked online and you have to reach Neral early to buy your tickets. The toy train starts off at Neral and goes through the winding tracks along the mountains for a good two hours to take you to Matheran.It is painfully slow, so much that someone jogging along the track can overtake the train. But if you have the time, then simply take the train to savor some beautiful views. So many times, it seems as if you are almost floating in the air since the track runs right along the edge of the hill. As you travel through the woods, you can gorge on guavas, berries, freshly squeezed nimbu juice, bhel and lots of other snacks that the vendors sell through the window at every station.
Matheran is the perfect pick for you if you are a hiking enthusiast. The place is devoid of any pucca roads cause motor vehicles are banned here. So in order to get from one place to another, you have to walk. Or take the horse. Or sit in one of those precarious looking hand carts.
Yours truly was not really prepared for all that walking, so imagine my agony when we found on reaching the Matheran railway station around noon that our hotel The Verandah in the Forest was actually in the midst of the forest, a long long way from the station. So a porter was called to carry the luggage while we dragged our feet in the red soil. Enroute, we stopped at the Gujarat Bhavan for a lip smacking thali lunch and headed to the hotel.
The Verandah in the Forest Matheran

After a 20 minute walk through the winding pathways in the forest, we reached The Verandah, a quaint imposing bungalow that has been converted into a hotel by the Neemrana Group. The rooms open out into the verandah which overlooks the forest.It is the perfect place to be in if you are not really looking at doing any touristy activity and just want to sit back with a book and a cup of tea and relax. The rooms have high ceilings and all the furniture is antique. I really love places like this that have the old world charm in them. There are no televisions and no cellphone reception. Its as if you are really transported to history!
A short siesta later, we were recharged enough to walk to the sunset point and then to the marketplace, which is near the station for a spot of shopping and dinner. When you do not have any luggage to worry about, you can walk all that you want to and not feel a thing. The market doesn't really have much to offer in terms of souvenirs. Lots of leather chappals, jute bags and the usual tourist place stuff. You can indulge in a variety of mocktails from the refreshment stalls that dot the entire street. They concoct amazing mocktails with all the "imported from mahabaleshwar" fruit crushes and mocktail mixes. There are many decent restaurants all along the street where you can sample indian and continental cuisines.
By the time we wrapped up dinner and headed back to the hotel, it was pitch dark. The flashlights that the hotel gave us was not going to be of any use inside the winding pathways in the forest. And the horses do not ply in the night. So in God's name we entrusted ourselves to the hand cart wallahs. After a scary 15 minute journey in the pitch darkness, we thanked the heavens when they dropped us off safely at the hotel.
Make sure you wrap up before sundown if you stay away from the marketplace. If you want to be in the hub of all the activity and stay out till late in the night, then you better pick a hotel near then station/market road. Most hotels near that area are kid friendly, with loads of games and activities but are not really an unwinding destination.
All the walking you do in Matheran ensures that you get a good night's sleep. A nice spread of breakfast was awaiting us when we woke up the next morning. Take in the scenery over your cup of masala chai and you will wonder why on earth doesn't your dining table have a view like this.
The Verandah in the Forest Matheran

Half an hour later, we were walking again, this time to catch the views from Louisa Point, once again far into the jungle. You walk, walk and walk some more to reach I don't know how deep into the jungle and then suddenly there is the clearing and a breathtaking view that is worth all the effort. Only after soaking in the view, when you walk back do you feel the strain.
Matheran has just about enough spots for you to cover it in two days, making it an ideal weekend destination. The trip will help you slow down - starting from the slow train to the pace at which everything moves around in there. Go there to rediscover walking, to get your feet and footwear dirty in the red mud and to connect back to nature. 


  1. Had heard a lot about Matheran, Tropical winters with misty mornings are parallel to none! :)
    nice photos and writeup as usual! :)

  2. Check how to reach Neral to Matheran, Mumbai to Matheran and Pune to Matheran. Matheran is located about 100 km from Mumbai and 120 km from Pune. There are two ways to reach Matheran like by road and by train from Neral.

  3. Great post. You know we all think about this very topic. These are great photos of Matheran really enjoy this post. There are many places to visit in Matheran including Echo Point,Charlotte Lake,Alexander Point, One Tree Hill Point,Louisa Point,Panorama Point,Porcupine Point, King George Point, Garbut Point, Little Chowk Point, etc.

  4. Nice blog. Matheran is such nice place to spend your weekends from your daily hectic routine. We visit matheran in last month. We stay at riviera hotel matheran . It is nice hotel with all facilities.

  5. Lovely post. The delightful choice of places to visit in Matheran ensure a great times for the ones seeking out Matheran tourist places. Spots such as the Panorama Point, One Tree Point, Louisia Point, and Little Chowk Point ensure loads of fond memories. Check out all 57 best places to visit in Dapoli.