Friday, April 05, 2013

Week 5 of my holidays: A trip to Matheran

I was to return to Saudi Arabia on the 29th of March, and the last week preceding this was filled with hectic activity as I had to complete many tasks in India. On the 25th, Hannah's 2nd semester examinations got over, and we started preparing for our trip to Matheran (a small but lovely hill station located less than 200 km from Mumbai) the next morning. Our original plan was to travel by train - a local to Neral and then the mini-train from Neral to Matheran, but in the end, we decided to go by car to Neral and then leave the car at Neral and take the mini-train from there until our destination.

Going by car caused a delay and when we reached Neral, we learned that the mini-trains for 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. had been cancelled while the next one was due at 11.15 a.m. As it was only 9.30 when we reached Neral, we decided to take the car up to Dasturi Naka, the spot where all cars bound for Matheran HAVE TO BE PARKED as cars are NOT PERMITTED  within the town. The 7-km ghat was quite a tough one, and there were sections where the car had to climb up steeply in first gear! I have never driven up such roads in my entire life, and my family and I were quite tense while going up. I had even switched off the CD player and my wife and kids were also not chatting much. Eventually, we arrived, safe and sound, at the parking area and parked the car as guided by the local police. After this, we began to walk along the railway line with our luggage. After 15 minutes of walking, we hired a coolie to carry our luggage and thus we reached the town center. 

We had booked two rooms at the Hotel Lord's Central, Matheran, and so we met the proprietor, Mrs. Zenobia Lord at her hotel reception and received the keys to two rooms. These rooms were quite small, and when we went back to the office, Zenobia readily shifted us to Rooms 1 and 2, which were much more spacious and had a covered front seating area with couches and a table to make tea etc. 

It took some getting used to, but the accommodation was quaint and nice. Our rooms did not face the valley but we could go around to the back side that overlooked the swimming pool and the magical Matheran valley. 

The biggest plus points of this hotel are its proximity to the market and their unique, all meals plan with bed tea and evening tea thrown in. ( The other, bigger hotels are situated far ahead and are more costly and serve only breakfast.) The entertainment included a giant chess board, carrom, table tennis and badminton. We sampled all this. I must say all of us had a great time, and in particular, Nishrin was able to forget her stresses and relax for 2 days!



Nishrin with Hannah

One-tree hill


He he



Food was scrumptious  and included Parsi dishes. There would be a soup, a starter (we had mutton samosas, fish fingers, etc. at different meals) a main course comprising a vegetable and a non-vegetarian dish ( we ate Bhindi, fish curry, mutton dhansak, dals,  etc.) with chapatis and rice and finally, a dessert - usually a pudding or a souffle. 

We never needed to go out for food!

On the first day, we covered five points and on the second day, eight or nine others. In addition, Hannah also participated in a Valley crossing of over 1300 meters! Going around on horseback on both occasions, I soon developed back pain, but more on that in my next post.

All in all, we had a great time. On the way back down, we hired a driver for Rs. 200 to take us from Dasturi Naka back to Neral. From there on, our drive back to Mumbai was uneventful. 

I had completed 70-80% packing of my bags as I was to take the morning flight the next day, but, as Fate was to have it, I cancelled my departure. Read about this in my next post.

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