Climate was getting calmer indicating the transition from summer to rainy with drops soothing the dry and dusty earth. Do u know what's the best thing about Maharashtra? Hills.. Sahyadri Hills.. and Forts.. Forts on top of those Sahyadri Hills.. Out of 350 odd forts (as mentioned by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation - MTDC here), easily around 65-70% are hill forts (as guessed by Mr. Ashik after roaming around the state :-P ). Now that's the reason why Maharashtra is famous for having so many trekking trails. Others include Land Forts, Sea forts, Forest Forts and Coastal Forts. I really appreciate the MTDC, which promotes the tourism very well, especially their resorts which usually gets occupied a month early at least for the weekends!! But still they have to develop many things else at the places of interest.
Matheran (meaning - "forest at the forehead" of the mountain) is one such place in Karjat, 90km from Mumbai which was initially developed by British after discovery of the place in 1850; now maintained well by MTDC. I have to admit, it really got some amazing view points and can be opted for a quite leisurely weekend anytime you want. It's at a height of 803mts from sea-level and covers an area of 8 sq.km. completely by forest; Yet with a small town and a plenty of options for staying overnight. Anyhow to cover entire area and enjoy the views one need at least 2 days unless u ride in a horse/pony across.
There are around 30 view points out of which Alexander Point, Louisa Point, Echo Point, Porcupine Point (Sunset Point), Belvedere Point, One Tree Hill Point, Little Chowk & Big Chowk Points are not to be missed. Also Charlotte Lake from where a small dam water over flows and falls to the deep valley which gives amazing view (Lords Point) from that water fall drop. Let me say this straight, it's not possible to explain the tranquility we feel at those places in words. So better pack up to the place and enjoy first hand. I bet, you'll not regret the visit especially from July to December.
|Matheran Hill Railway (Toy Train)|
We already have visited 3 times in last 2yrs (July 2011, Oct 2011 & July 2012).. still we are ready to go over there once again, such a good experience it offers. Twice in monsoon and once in winter, but I recommend anyone to roam in monsoon which gives us a lush green views (though you might get completely drenched :D). If wanted to try a ride in toy train to the hill top from the base railway station, Neral.. it'll be available between Oct - Feb only. (Pls note: its not Nerul which is different place near Mumbai. I'm highlighting because many people by mistake take tickets of the latter and get caught by the TC s). This toy train, Matheran Hill Railway is one of 6 Mountain Railways of India.
|A Beautiful View of the Valley from a view point of Matheran|
|This is how's the path to walk through forests at Matheran - heavenly !!|
|A View from Big Chowk Point, Matheran|
|Rakshith, Karthik & Me (L to R) pretty excited when the fog cleared the view at Lord Point near Charlotte Lake, Matheran (snapped by Akshay)|
|The place we stayed in July 2012, Sunder Villa at Matheran|