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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Matheran hill station, Mumbai; Quick visit guide!

Matheran was not the primary destination I had in mind. When it comes to hills around Mumbai, I have heard more about Lonavla and Kandala and less about Matheran. But few colleagues mentioned it and when I checked on map, Matheran was not a huge diversion while going to Alibag. Thus I decided to stop at Matheran for few hours and then proceed to Alibaug.

Matheran is a hill, with typical things a hill would offer- view points, cool breeze and respite from heat. Though I had done some quick reading about Matheran, didn't have any detailed plan. My idea was to only have a quick stopover and proceed to Alibag.

ND Studio was on the way. Stopped here for a few clicks but security objected and asked us to leave
Following the map, we reached Matheran parking area at about 9-9.30 AM. Parking lot was already full and I had to drive half a km further to find a parking spot. Either everyone came earlier than us or many were spending overnight in Matheran. Peak summer is not the best time of the year to visit Matheran. I had hoped for some pre-monsoon rains to cool down the atmosphere but there were none.

As we approached to park, couple of local folks accompanied us. After pretending to assist in parking, they began their sales pitch, explaining that it is not possible to walk and we have to avail their services- either a horse ride or a hand pulled rickshaw. Below are the ongoing rates per person, one can select based on their time and interest.

You don't necessarily have to rent from starting point. On your way up you will find several horses/karts returning empty. You will be able to bargain better with them.

I had no intention of spending whole day or thousands of rupees at Matheran. My objective was only to get a feel of the place and return. After quick consultation with the team, we decided NOT to hire horse or hand cart and decided to walk. Like most popular tourist place people at Matheran have made themselves a great business opportunity by blocking vehicle entry on the hill and forcing tourists to spend on horses and carts.  Good for local economy but inconvenient and expensive for visitors.

The guy who tried to get our business was visibly upset that we opted out. Might have thought he got hold of some rich people coming in luxury car (Jetta) and will get good business. Kept insisting that we can't see much on foot. Knowing that those words are usually to trick unsuspecting tourists into submission and because my plan was to return after quick check, we decided to go on our own. There were many like us who preferred to walk.

The single seater hand pulled kart gets a very thin leaf suspension and is operated by 2-3 folks. One to pull and few more to push uphill. Wheels get a thin layer of rubber, no tubes. Guests sit holding their bags. Not sure how it feels to be ferried by 3-4 people. Reminded me of the Pallaki/Palki used by kings in earlier times.

We bought tickets (Rs 50 per person) and began walking towards the Bazaar. It is about 2 kms by walk and the road was dusty, uphill and unpaved. Plus the pungent smell. A ride on horseback or hand cart is sure to be very bumpy and not going to be friendly for your back. Few splashes of rain could have turned the area much more pleasant. Should plan one more visit I guess.

There're many hotels and restaurants on the hill- their guests also need to hire a cart to haul their baggage and themselves. Some families realize that they have to spend more for reaching hotel from parking lot on horse ride/hand rickshaw than what they paid for hotel rent or to reach Matheran. Many preferred to walk

Even hotel/property owners need to haul their luggage via horses

Once at the bazaar, we had breakfast, walked further till Kandala point, stopped at a park.

Care for Golf?  All of 10 feet!
Glittery footwear

Map of Matheran places of interest. If you have a day to spare, you can comfortably walk from one view point to another. A horse ride is convenient for first few kms, then you will have to get on and off the horse every few mins. Horses stop few hundred meters from the road and you will be given just a few mins time to return to the designated spot. Should plan a weekend trip here post monsoon, with an overnight stay.
We walked back on railway track. This was less dusty and offered couple of views as well. Track repair work was going on. Once operational it will give one more mode of transport, probably cheaper than horse or hand kart.
By around 12 we were done and returned to parking area. We saw only 2-3 out of 20+ viewpoints/places of interest but returned with better understanding of the place and its dynamics. As I waited in the car for my passengers, at least 10 people asked me if I can take them to Mumbai on sharing basis... A parking fee of 80 Rs had to be paid. Proceeded to Alibaug, my main destination for the day.
Above; The dried up hills and viewpoints were not that fun. But the scene will be totally different after monsoon.

Similar: Lonavala and Kandala in summer * Kate's viewpoint, Mahabaleshwar * 10 points about Mahabaleshwar

9 comments :

Jyotirmoy Sarkar said...

Beautiful photography, good to know about this place, did not have any idea, thanks for sharing.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Jyotirmoy

Prasad Np said...

Very brown as of now,,, like you say may be after monsoon is a good time to go there

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes.. Thanks Prasad

rupam sarma said...

Thanks for sharing. Beautiful pics from Matheran.

R Niranjan Das said...

Lovely place. Should be gorgeous in the rains. Thanks for the helpful information, Shrinidhi.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Niranjan and Rupam

Vivek Katiyar said...

Matheran Seems really cool place! And pictures you took are really awesome!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Vivek