Monday, 22 July 2013

Matheran – An Inviting Monsoon Trek

Beautiful landscape soaked in mist

My first escape from Mumbai was Matheran – it’s a small hill station ideal for trekking. It had been quite a while since I had trekked, so the idea of a monsoon trek intrigued me. I set out with my backpack and umbrella to this forestry hill station around 100 km away from Mumbai.

It had already started raining in the morning and if I were in Delhi, I would have happily slept under a blanket with absolutely no inclination to go out. But Mumbai rains invite you for an exhilarating day out!


I reached Matheran at around 12 o’clock. The atmosphere was all misty conjuring up for a thrilling trail through the forest. There were various trekking groups, while I was alone. So I simply tagged along a pony rider. He offered me to take a pony, but I preferred to walk. He was pretty amazed to know that I came all alone! He asked me, “Aap akele agaye (You came all alone?), to which I retorted politely, “a solo trip gives you more freedom to do your own thing”. Knowing that I was a tourist all on my own, he took care of me through the trek.


It’s a distance of around a km from the taxi stand to reach the Matheran railway station and the market. Alternatively, you can travel on a toy train from Neral to Matheran. Just where you exit the station, there is a line-up of shops, restaurants and hotels, which allow you to take a break and refresh yourselves and then set out for the rest of the trek.


I halted at Garden View Restaurant for lunch. It was a simple, basic eating place with both outdoor and indoor seating. I placed my order quite quickly and the service was quick too - a bowl of steaming hot noodles arrived in no time! I had a good time noshing, while watching passersby, ponies and the drizzling.


Being solo, I was a bit jittery when I resumed my trek after lunch. As you delve into the forest, there are several paths that lead to different sightseeing points. Thus, I stopped and wondered for a while before speeding up for a trail. My fears subdued soon when I saw a few ponies appearing from the haze. I followed them and I was a happy trekker again!


Although trekking through the forest while it’s raining was not something new to me, the experience was different. It was adventurous in its own way! I went through a range of emotions during the trek – slight fear, excitement, thrill, joy and abandonment.


There are moments when you just succumb to nature. The moment I reached my first spot for a lake view, all I could see was haze, gradually the wind got harsh and it started raining. Even my umbrella could not save me! I still managed to click a few pictures. Frankly, I didn’t know what I was clicking because I could hardly see anything! But the experience was still rewarding – kind of therapeutic.

One spooky garden
Who would dare to enter that gate?!

I was spellbound to see many beautiful spots on the way – they were private properties and gardens with lots of lush grass and trees. Mist had added a very spooky quality to the whole atmosphere. For a while, I felt lost - I didn’t know where to go. The next moment a lady vendor invited me for a cup of tea. Even though I didn’t really intend to have anything, I still went inside the little shop. The moment I sat down to sip tea, it started raining heavily with harsh sounds. I wondered for a while, what am I doing here – all alone in an unknown place in the midst of strangers in such extreme weather?! But that’s what I love eventually!


I continued my trek after the tea and followed more trekkers and ponies to lead me to the way to the station. I planned on taking a toy train to reach Neral station, but to my tough luck, I had missed the last train that left at 3:20 p.m. Anyway, I followed a bunch of boys for my way out to the taxi stand. After covering a distance, the boys asked me if I knew the way out. So, none of us knew the way out!


I had more than one fear with me – I was solo, I didn’t know the way out and monkeys! Yes, monkeys can really be a nuisance. I was warned by a pony rider not to walk alone because the monkeys could attack.

Anyway, all is well that ends well. I found my way out and headed for the Neral station. 

Do you have a monsoon trek memory? I would love to hear it in the comments section!


31 comments:

  1. Monsoons can spoil or make it memorable, both!
    Great shots.

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    1. Yes, that's true! Thanks Indrani :)

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  2. Loved it !! The pics are awesome...u captured the beauty very well even if it was raining hard.

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  3. Yes the place does give a creepy feeling but still feels like visiting it.. refreshing..

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  4. Such a lovely place. Some pics are good for a horror flick too.

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  5. Some really beautiful shots Renuka...lovely!

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  6. Wow, what's the destinations! looking super romantic in the hazy picture gallery. love this monsoon.
    just amazing travelogues. thanks for sharing you experience.

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  7. Excellent post on Matheran. The place looks so green and fresh in the monsoon. Travelling solo does have a lot of advantages. I definitely recommend that.

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    1. Thanks Niranjan :) Yup, traveling solo has its own charm!

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  8. Interesting read... I liked the idea of sipping tea while its raining cats and dogs outside. That has its own charm too. :)

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    1. Absolutely! Sipping tea while it's raining is mandatory!

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  9. Hi,
    I really like your post.
    Thanks for sharing such great information. It is very informative and provides knowledge of Matheran travel guide

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  10. Amazing post...nice pictures & view its just amazing..i like the most spooky garden..scary..i want to know more about that garden...thnx

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    1. Thanks Sonam for stopping by :) Yeah, Matheran is an amazing escape, especially during the rains! The gardens are private properties. They look spooky when it's misty. :)

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  11. Hey Renuka!! Super description of your journey and equally beautiful snaps! Look forward to read your blog.

    I would like to share a similar experience in rains. It wasnt a typical trek but a religious walk to the Vaishno Devi temple.

    It was the year 2002 while studying for Post Graduation Final Year in New Delhi, 8 people. The temple is about 12 kms from a place called from Katra. The altitude is about 2500 ft from sea level.

    We had to start the journey (on foot) in the evening and the showers were on. The local shops were selling low cost rain coats which were as reliable as a coalation govt. So we bought 2 of them for each of us. But we still knew that even 2 wont last even half of the journey. The visitors who were with their families, specially kids, chose not to start the journey considering the bad weather. But we went ahead. Gradually rain was getting worse with night. The atmosphere was turning out like a horror film. Street Lights going off, the scary sound of the wind and somewhat jungle around us. There were moments when the force of rain & wind was so strong and terrifying that we all held our selves together and took support of pillars. The planned subject of our prayers quickly transformed, from Praying for a good job and super Salary.. To became surviving the night.

    As expected, the rain costs ditched us even before half way. We were totally wet and shiverring. Some how reached half way, where there is a Temple - Ardh Kumari. In normal circumstances, the que here takes 6-7 hours but there was no one before us. Only 4-5 other brave ones after us. After the darshan, we tried to look for some shelter in rooms/ halls built by the Temple Trust. Almost all were occupied. Some how we managed blankets and some space in a room which was totally dark. It was already mid night and Out of tiredness, we all slept in no time. That only blanket was hardly of any use in the cold weather and fully wet clothes but still something was better than nothing.

    Those few hours of sleep did help us recharge our energies and start the journey again in the morning. By the grace of God, we succcessfully compelted the whole journey and we had other visits there as well later.

    It was a really scary experience but wil always be memorable.

    Your Blog brought back the memories and nostalgia of such an old trip. Thanks to you!!

    If have been regularly visiting that place, so if any one needs any info abt a visit, may write to me.

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    1. Phew! Thanks Anubhav, for sharing the account of your adventurous trip! Such trips, even though difficult, add value to our life as travelers. Keep travelling!

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  12. Thanks Renuka for this wonderful post. I had a similar experience hiking during a hurricane in the Appalachian mountains. As in your trek, the mist obscured the vistas forcing me to appreciate the intimate landscapes. Your photos really capture the momoent. Have you gone trekking in the rain again?

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    1. Thanks Sarah for stopping by! Yes, I have trekked in the rain just recently when I was in Darjeeling. It is so misty, yet so fascinating. Although it's so slippery (I did slip once), it is so much fun! I love trekking in the rain! :)

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  13. Very nice narrative and pictures! Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Jan, and welcome! :) Matheran is a beautiful place.

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  14. Some places become more beautiful in monsoon. Matheran seems one of them. Lovely mist all around makes your photos even more interesting. Enjoyed every bit of this wonderful post. thanks Renuka :)

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    1. Thanks Moon :-) I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, mist did made the pictures more interesting.

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  15. Awesome clicks :) really i liked it and still waiting for more post. :P

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  16. Karthik Sivagnanam26 November 2016 at 22:35

    Well written post !! With very natural pics and the way you narrated was so good. Kudos to you for making solo trips with courage and admiration and enjoying the freedom !!

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    1. Thanks Karthik! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

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