We were sitting on top of a beautiful green plateau, looking at the final climb up the hill. It was about time for lunch, when the rain clouds darkened the skies and the heavens poured open on us.
I admit I have been a tad lazy of late. After the last trek to Rajmachi, I haven’t done any hiking trips. So a chance to get away from the concrete jungle of Mumbai was always welcome. This time round I did a fairly easily trail that went from Bhivpuri all the way to Garbett Point in Matheran.
I joined a group called Twine Outdoors that had organized a one day hike to Garbett Point. We met early in the morning near Bhivpuri for breakfast and once everyone had gathered and had their fill, we decided to start hiking.
The route began at Bhivpuri and then after passing behind a village, opened into a trail by a lake. We stopped at this lake for a quick photoshoot, before joining the long circuitous route. The route was a lovely walk that meandered along the lakeside before crossing streams and passing by fields overlooked by waterfalls. After a short climb we had reached a small plateau where we rested for a bit.
Our destination, Matheran is a small hill station that is located around 90 kms from Mumbai and 120 kms from Pune. It is one of the more unpolluted hill stations of Maharashtra owing to the fact that it is one of the few automobile-free hill stations around. In fact the only way to get around in Matheran is to either walk or hire one of the many horses and ponies available in the hill station. The hill station was discovered by Hugh Poyntz Malet in 1850 and is located at about 2625 feet above MSL. It’s location in the Western Ghats also makes it one of more eco-sensitive regions, and it abounds in amazing bio-diversity. A wide variety of amphibians and snakes can be found here, especially during the monsoons. The hill station is also very popular due to its close proximity to Mumbai and Pune, leading to very crowded weekends.
While the normal way to get to Matheran is to either take the toy train or hire a cab from Neral, there are many scenic routes to trek up the hill station. Our route to Garbett Point would take us to the south-west of Matheran.
After resting, we resumed our climb. The climb was fairly simple and not too steep. The route gradually went upwards, giving us scenic views of the lake below. In a short while we were marvelling at the distance we covered, and trying to find our resting point in the distance.
At about lunch time, we finally made it to Garbett Plateau, our next rest spot for the day. I roamed about the plateau, clicking photographs, while the rest of the folks made it to the top. Once the group had all arrived, we figured we’d break for lunch and rest for a bit. But the rain gods had other ideas !!!
The skies opened up and the pitter patter of rain started falling all around us. Stranded on top of a treeless plateau, we had no option other than to wait out the downpour. After a while, the rains finally stopped and we could quickly grab some lunch.
Now a trek isn’t a trek, until a village dog follows you all the way. One such mongrel followed us all the way, leading and sometimes urging us onwards. After lunch, we decided to skip the final ascent to Garbett point and move straight to Matheran. With the dog leading the way, we moved towards Matheran.
Soon the grasslands of the plateau, gave way to dense forests through which our little trail snaked on. Walking through the jungle is always an heavenly experience for me, and I tried to savor every bit of the walk. Finally we made it out of the forest and on to the toy train tracks. From there, it was a short walk to the entrance to Matheran where a cab took us back to Neral station and civilization. As I got into the crowded train back home, I wished I could have just stayed on the forests of Matheran a little while longer.
Matheran is about 90 km from Mumbai and is well connected by road. For this trek though, you can take the local train on the Central line till Bhivpuri station and begin climbing from there. While returning, you can either ride the toy train to Neral from Matheran or hire a cab from Matheran to Neral.
Best Time to Visit
The trail is open all year round, but climbing in the summer season is a bit difficult with the harsh sun up and about. Trekking on this trail is best done during the monsoons or in winter. Several groups organize day hikes to Garbett point from Mumbai. I went with a local outfit called Twine Outdoors for this trip.