Commencement of the monsoon, Mumbai heat and a small gang of friends - the perfect recipe for a trek in the hills. And what can be better than starting off with the first trek of the season with Matheran.
It might sound strange but whenever we plan out something it doesn’t always work. I have enough examples to support this claim. But don’t have enough space to mention it all.
Last week… Friday night… I took a conference call courtesy my office. Everyone was included except Rehan and Kandu. They were in the midst of their final semester engineering exams. To help them concentrate, this trip was to be kept a top secret. But Anna spilled the beans too soon.
As usual, the conference call didn’t serve much purpose. Everyone was speaking and no one was listening. In the midst of this hullabaloo, Atul suggested that we go to Matheran. For the first time, we all agreed to Atul’s decision. We have all learnt our lesson well. Every time Atul says something, it never happens. But he is like Mahesh Bhatt. He has an opinion on anything and everything.
Finally the only question on the conference was, “We are going to Matheran. Who is joining us? If anyone is coming, meet us at the Thane station at 7:00 a.m.” With this the conference ended and 4 guys were supposed to assemble early in the morning. I was in the worst possible position. My shift was supposed to end at 11:00 in the night and I would be reaching home only by 1:30. That meant that I would be getting only 4 hours of dear sleep. And a hard trek was scheduled later in the day. Quite a tough day ahead.
My alarm went off at 5:30 and within 30 minutes; I was all ready and standing at the bus stop. Tarun joined me soon. I also called up Naveen so confirm whether he is out of bed and there he was answering my call in a miffed voice. He had just woken up. But since his house is much closer to Thane, there was no reason to worry.
Just as we were waiting for the bus, it started to shower. Wow!!! We thought. This is the best weather for trekking. We were delighted. The journey to the Thane station took us around 45 minutes. And comedy of errors – Naveen came in the same train which we were supposed to catch (has performed this stunt earlier too), I and Tarun were on the over bridge when the train left and Atul the great was still standing in the queue booking tickets for us all.
I was the least amazed as all this happened. All such events occur very frequently in our group. Upon enquiring we found that the nest train to Neral was scheduled at 8:17 a.m. A huge gap of 45 minutes. I could have slept 45 minutes more. But, according to Mr. Atul, a train is supposed to leave in the direction of Neral every 20 minutes.
But, now we have learnt our lessons well. Ignore his suggestions and confirm with others. A journey of around 80 minutes and we were standing on the Neral station. Matheran stands at an altitude of around 800 meters above sea level. It was time to climb. Our journey started off on the tar road. And soon, we got adventurous and deviated from the main road to take on the tracks and the rocks. On the way, a aunty also offered a ride in her Scorpio. Caught in two minds, we politely refused.
The weather was it its best. Cloudy skies and cool breeze blowing made the nature a treat to watch. Huffing and panting, we somehow made it to the top. It took us around 3 hours to make it to the top. The best part about the climb to the top was the fun involved in climbing the rocks like the way they show in action movies. Though not that dangerous, it still is risky. A lose footing and you can find yourself on the ground with some fractured bones.
Apart from Naveen, everyone had it easy. Naveen was literally struggling in spite of his well muscled body. It seemed to us that Naveen had undertaken this trek for the sole purpose of having his portfolio done. At each and every bend, climb and curve, Naveen wanted to have his solo photo clicked. Even in a group photo, Naveen was only interested in how he looked in the snap. It seems he is slowing becoming a narcissist.
Totally exhausted after climbing the summit, we quickly refuelled our body by having a Malwani lunch at a local restaurant. This restaurant was also located 2 kilometres inside Matheran. There are lots of facts about Matheran which one does not know.
- Matheran is the smallest hill station in the world.
- Matheran is the cleanest hill station of India.
- Vehicles are barred from entering inside the town.
The only medium of transport is the horse, hand pulled carts or your legs. And the name Matheran means "Forest on Top" or "Mother Forest" in Marathi.
Even though worn out, a trek to Matheran would be incomplete without visiting some of the famous points in Matheran. So, we went for the Charlotte Lake and the Lord Point. Charlotte Lake is the main source of drinking water for Matheran. And you can view the beautiful Sinhagad Fort from the Lord Point. Tarun and Atul also tried out Rappling near the Charlotte lake.
With the sun setting on the far horizon, it was getting dark in the forest. We also planned to walk all the way down without the use of any vehicle. But hardly, had we passed 2 curves, when we were offered a lift in the open MUV – Mahindra MaXX Pik-Up. It was very difficult to resist the temptation. So, we all hopped in. It was a joy ride. Open on all the sides, the view downhill was breathtaking. It took us hardly 10 minutes to get back where we started.
On the way back home, we were greeted by the first showers of the season with its comrades thunder and lightning. A local dog also got in the train much to the surprise of all the passengers. We managed to capture the event with the digital camera as well as the video recorder. But, the dog seemed least interested. He coolly sat under the seat and got down at the next station. Maybe he was a regular.
The train journey and the bus journey back home had taken a toll on my body. I can still remember those few steps from the bus stop to my home. I was walking with snails pace that even the old were staring at me. My white shirt turned brown and black shoes turned red must have been a sight to watch.
But, that’s the fun of trekking. So, all you guys and gals out there… bring out your haversacks, a good pair of shoes and some determination. Go for a trek. All the pain in our body is worth it.