Matheran, One of the oldest and most splendid hill stations in Maharashtra is located 90kms from Mumbai at elevation of 2625feet above sea level. The most unforgettable things about Matheran are deep forest and valleys surrounding it with abundant waterfalls specially in rainy season. Matheran in local language means " Forest at the top" covers 8 square kms in Sahyadri mountain range. This beautiful place discovered in 1850 by Hugh Poyntz Malet has 28 viewing points which gives splendid panoramic 360 view of surrounding ghats and valleys with breathtaking sunrise & sunset views.
My trek : Meeting point was decided at Panvel station at 7.15am sharp as our plan was to complete the trek by afternoon, have packed lunch at Matheran, take cab from Dasturi naka to Neral and train journey back home by early evening to avoid rush of returning Mumbaikers who flock to Matheran during weekends. I started quiet early at 4.30am from Borivali as Panvel being around 3hrs from my place. Even at 4.30am in the morning, Borivali station was packed with enthusiastic crowd on their way to enjoy the rains at various places around Mumbai. After changing trains at Andheri and Wadala, I finally reached our meeting point - Panvel. We all gathered at Panvel and by 7.30am we were all marching towards the ST stand to catch ST bus to our base village Dodhani.The bus route from Panvel to Dodhani passes through some naturally beautiful green landscapes and as human settlement recedes it makes way for greener pastures, velvety paddy fields and green hills. En route we passed through small streams and Gadheswar bus stand from where one can go to less explored Gadheshwar lake and dam over it.
It took one hr from Panvel to reach Dodhani village - the base to Matheran trek. The village was no less than a heaven with scenic high hills covered with dark rain clouds and waterfall from the top of the hill which was truly mesmerising.
With cool breeze and beautiful landscape around the small village adding to zeal, everyone was charged up to go climbing to Matheran. Our brief introduction round and after deciding to take a local as our guide, We all marched following our local guide Vishnu who lead our way. The rain god showered occasional drizzle on us as we climbed higher. The climb was not strenuous but passed through some dense forest and thick undergrowth. Our first halt was at a small waterfall on the way, half way to our destination. The view of the valley and other peaks including Garbett point of Matheran was nothing less than spectacular. Climbing steadily on narrow edge with valley down below at times the route was difficult at some spots with slippery muddy road and rocks covered with green algae,with sun overpowering rain clouds at times we huffing and puffing would take short halts gasping for some breath but the spectacular view of the valley would recharge the group and would thus become a short photo session for everyone.
On our way we came across a small temple with enough space around it for the group to enjoy a short break with one of our group member Sachin played a small game with the group to re energise everyone.One important thing that I noticed on the way was the whole route was loaded with Karvy stems everywhere, the flower which blooms once in only 8years and its expected to bloom this year in September. Our climb took approx 3hrs and we were at the Sunset point of Matheran. The view of surrounding cliffs, forts, deep valleys and waterfalls was major highlight of the trek with everyone deciding to rest here and have our packed lunch
After spending some time at sunset point, we started our 45minutes walk through the fragile jungles of Matheran to market place. Entire Matheran is covered with dense jungles and red soil and walk to market place was interesting enough with everyone sharing their own past experience and occasional stop for yet another photo sessions. We came across some amazing bungalows and properties which were more than a decade old. With time running fast we decided to skip the market place and decided to walk down to Dasturi naka to catch a cab to Neral station. But again on the way walking on the tracks of world famous Matheran toy train we did have hot cuppa of chai (tea) and fried bhutta (maize corn) which was irresistible specially after our long journey.
Bidding adios to Matheran we took cab for our return journey to Neral station and train to our destination back home. With many first timers in the group swearing about long and tiring trek but they agreed that the scenery around Matheran and the experience was one to be remembered for lifetime. Happy again that one more new destination covered successfully in my quest to explore the unexplored destinations.As I happily sit back and pen down my experience in this blog the picturesque Matheran comes back fresh in my mind again