A sudden thought to Mr.V ‘s mind lead us to packing our bags and heading towards a vehicle-less destination- Matheran! We did our little research about the place over internet and friends. But still , I had no idea what to expect from Matheran untill I reached there!
Approximately 130 kms away Pune did not sound even a journey!We chose the train as it was a convenient option (as per our research). After spending sleepless friday night (due to over thinking of next day’s journey), leaving the house at 6:00 am on saturday morning made it no easy! I was yawning, yawning and yawning all the way till Matheran! It was no direct one train journey! We started with cab at 6:00 am till railway station (Chinchwad). Got the tickets and landed at the platform to see an over-crowded platform! I thought (with a big yawn) ‘what was I thinking, It was a weekend’! The train (Singhgadh express) arrived at 6:50 am and yes we didn’t get seats. The crowd entered in train and suddenly ,for me train was shrinked into a tiny train. There was no place to sit, forget sleeping! It was only an hour and 20 minutes journey till Karjat (approx. 100 kms from Pune). It felt like it was going on forever, a never ending journey and did I mention never ending yawns! I thought Mr.V would leave a sleeping me there in the train and continue his journey!
Karjat was here and I got down .The next train to Neral , 15 minutes destination from Karjat was just after few minutes! We grabbed a vada -pav (a snack with potato and bun) for ourselves and I completed it within no time. I was wondering whether I was sleepy or hungry! The next train was pleasant and best part was its 15 minutes duration! I expected a toy train ride from Neral to Matheran (Approx 10 kms). As you all have guessed by now, I did not get to live my childhood fantasy! It was a clear indication ‘Vini, it is not your day and just stop yawning!’
We reached Neral by 9:45 am. The toy trains were fully booked for next two hours! Clearly it was not a good decision to stay there , yawning and waiting for two hours for toy train which will take another two hours to cover a distance of 10 kms to Matheran! Then there comes instantly prepared plan B! A broker with taxi and hotel reservations came to us and asked for taxi. We had no other choice but take a taxi till next 8 kms and then take a horse ride from there! But clearly, god had other plans for us than plan B! On the way to taxi stand, the broker guy took us to hotel reservation counter where the hotel reservation guy gave the shock of the day ( as if other shocks was not enough). He said that there were no rooms up there in Matheran due to winter weekend! He has only few rooms left. We were knowing there were no 5 star or 3 star hotels up there. We were expecting a decent room! Mr. V and I were not in mood of more bloopers so we booked whatever he had got for 1500 bucks! I was leaving this hotel reservation and was heading towards taxi stand . My inner me was yelling at me and telling ‘ Vini you are duped!’
The taxi was a maruti van which was about to get stuffed with 6 people.If one of them was even moderately fat, other five would have given him a scary look as if he has murdered someone! But our group of six people were all thin enough to get stuffed. An 8 kms ride was quick and uphill drive was pleasant. As soon as the taxi stopped, I kept one leg out and pulled myself out of that tiny seat! The place is called Dastur Naaka! It is just a small point or centre for refreshments and there I saw toy train going without taking me and Mr. V!
To my surprise, there was a toy train till the up hill Matheran! We took train tickets which were the only last two remaining! Finally we entered the toy train and even though it was only for 2 kms , I was happy!
We got down and were heading out of station, there it was Matheran- vehicle-less town and full of horses! It was a common sight of everyone riding on horse or just walking! I suddenly realized I was not yawning anymore! There were no fancy roads or great shops but there was clear and fresh air with no pollution! All the families with kids were enjoying with horse rides and the pleasant climate. I told to god in an ordering mood ‘ there is no room for any more surprises!’ For a change, God was in no mood to listen to me!
Mr .V called to the hotel guy who was about to take us to hotel room! We were waiting. There were plenty of rooms there. All the hotel brokers came to us us one by one with an offer of better hotel with less than half the price ,we had paid. They even offered to have a look before booking! Clearly they were better than what we had booked! We went to see what is our room upto! Oh yes it was a few minutes walk. The rooms were old , very very old! It was not even worth of 700 bucks! We were disappointed that we were duped! But we had to leave that behind and go for what Matheran had to offer!
We had decided that we would walk and explore Matheran instead of horses. We kept horse ride for the next day! We took map and started walking towards the sight seeing places! Did I say I had packed loads of aloo palak pratha ( potato and spinach stuffed flat bread) and methi-palak paratha (spinach and fenugreek flat bread)! It was time that we ate something !
After some not so great scenes and tourist points, we had realized, we had covered a up-hill distance of 4 kms. Yes we were tired! I was not knowing for what were walking for! All the people, walking or riding horse were covering one after other tourist point on the very same way! But for us, nothing was impressive. We stopped at a refreshment shop and had a small conversation with shop guy! He had lemon juice and got to know that there was 7 more kilometres to cover! I thought to sleep a little under the tree!
The climate was turning more sunny! Nothing was going right that day! Half the day was passed. We were walking towards never ending road. For once , while walking, there was no other people walking on the road. It was a dense forest. A pin drop silence irked me. I know it was safest place. It was crowded all over Matheran. There was no other road to get lost! I just wanted to end this walk on this road . We had some parathas in between so that my brain get some more food to produce scary thoughts!
To know what else was in store for us, stay tuned for next post! The journey will be continued in next post if you guys like this part and find it interesting. So tell me if you like it as it is my first attempt to describe my trip and travel stories!
See you guys in next post! Thank you for reading!