Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mathe-run - the trekking way...

When I heard of a day trek being planned I was excited about the idea. Firstly, it had been a while since I had gone trekking. Most treks I have been to were either in summer or were evening or night treks. More importantly, Matheran was an attraction as I had never been there. And to reach this beautiful hill station by foot was thrilling to know. After going and to and fro to have it or not, the four of us set out from Kurla station to Panvel at 6.20 in the morning. The forty minute train ride was a breeze on the foggy morning. We were suppose to be a dozen youngsters but almost eight backed out on the eve and four of us had made up our minds to execute what was planned.

Mrunmaiy, was the leader and the three guys (Ravi, Porus and me) ensuring we protected her while she led us. After alighting at Panvel station, we took a stroll to the local bus stop sipping some hot chai on the nippy morning. The interim destination was Dudhani – a little hamlet at the foothill of the Sahyadri mountains. We boarded the bus at 7.45 am and in forty minutes we were at Dudhani with the mountains staring at us. We had not carried water hoping to buy some bottles before the climb. The only store in sight did not have any. So we began the trek with no water on us (that's a record). However, a couple of packets of biscuits and glucon –d was the only saving grace.

The locals instructed us to follow a set of water pipes that would lead us to the trail. We were accompanied from a distance by a bunch of college boys who were on their own. So we would take turns to overtake each other.We took 5-6 short breaks but otherwise climbed non-stop for two hours chatting, panting, clicking and eating to reach the mountain top at Sunset Point in two hours.

After spending a few minutes at this secluded place and meeting a few villagers on their way down, we began to walk towards the hill town seeking directions from passersby, a couple of tourists and not to miss the Matheran monkeys. By 11.30 we could see the tracks of the narrow gauge railway and a stream of tourists. We had hit the red, dusty pathways of this hill town. After a stroll around the market place we finally settled for lunch, which was one of the goals at the destination.

Park view hotel served us a variety of chicken dishes and we made our own finger bowl before stepping out for dessert – milkmaid based gola and choco-walnut fudge. We then headed to the Matheran Light Railway ticket booking counter to catch the toy train to Neral. At the station a little boy helped us get our shoes cleaned of the red Matheran soil stuck to it. We were first in the ticket queue for the 2.45 pm train and after a couple of rounds of Uno we were all set to board the historic rail system.

We had a mobile kitty party for company. Around three dozen middle aged women chattering their way down the hills. We were at Neral by 4.15 after witnessing some beautiful sceneries. From Neral it was back to the Mumbai local to get back to our homes. It was a memorable day with lots of adventure. Some you would have read of, some we cannot mention here and some are to be only experienced and savored for time to come.

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