Matheran is one of the most picturesque monsoon destination that is close to Mumbai as well as Pune. Therefore, It is a perfect weekend getaway for the residents of these metropolitan cities. The hill station is elevated at around 800m(2,625 feet) above sea level. Interestingly, it is Asia’s only automobile free hill station, that means you can visit the purest form of nature, untouched by pollution. In this post, I am going to share a few easy trekking routes and some specific insights on how to trek from Ambewadi.
This hill station was developed by the British, as a resort to escape the summer heat. Indeed, the place still has a few structures with beautiful old British-style architecture.
Ways To Reach
There are multiple ways to reach Matheran, from Neral station which is the closest railway station.
One of the outstanding elements of the trip to Matheran is its toy train ride, which runs on a narrow-gauge heritage railway line.
The train cuts through the lush forest in the Western Ghats from Neral to Matheran, enticing the tourists into its scenic landscape. The ride covers 21 km in around 2 hours. However, the toy train could be shut down fully or partly from time to time due to landslides and seasonal impacts. Hence, I suggest you to check before making a plan.
Other convenient options are self-drive, cab or bus until Dasturi Naka. This is the closest point(2.5kms from Matheran) until where vehicles are allowed. Thereafter, you can walk up, ride on a horseback, get onto a pull-cart or take a rickshaw from this point.
If your spirits are high and enthusiastic, trekking up to Matheran hill station is a thrilling experience. Regardless of which trek route you choose, you will be passing through lavish green scenery, in the middle of forests and waterfalls(possibly). Below are a few trekking routes.
1. The most popularly taken route is from Dodhani village to the Sunset Point. It takes around 3 hours on an average to reach to the top.
2. Garbett Point Route is the second popular route which starts from a small tribal Diksal village, near Bhivpuri Road Railway Station, through Garbett plateau to the top of Matheran. This trek takes around 4 to 5 hours on an average.
3. Rambaug forest route is one of the easy trek routes which takes around 2.5 hours to reach to the top. The route begins from Pokharwadi village and passes through the lush forest until Rambaug point.
4. Route starting from Ambewadi village until One Tree Hill Point is not very popular and needs a little more effort compared to the above routes. It takes around 3 hours to get to the top.
Our Trek Experience: Ambewadi to Matheran
On a Saturday morning, in the month of August, my husband woke me up early in the morning at 5 Am and exclaimed ‘let’s go for a trek’ and I involuntarily woke up, quickly got ready and headed out. He is an early bird, who admires nature and loves to trek. I, on the other hand never went on a proper trek but wanted to give it a shot and so I followed him.
It was around 7 AM when we reached a pretty small village named Ambewadi, passing through a beautiful view of Morbe dam backwaters. We parked our vehicle near the village school ground and looked around if we could find somebody to guide us with the route. After 5 minutes of talking to some local people, we found a guy who was willing to guide us to the top of the hill station for a nominal charge.
We had to pass through the interior of the village and some cows, to start the trek. After a 5 minute walk, we reached a plateau from where the One tree hill was visible.
Now that the target was set, we walked ahead, surrounded by clouds and a cloudy view of the dam water. As we ascended, the clouds fell below us, making the landscape around us look heavenly.
One of the major reasons, I fell in love with this trek is that it covered 3 different trekking experiences. First, we got to walk upwards on the plateau which is slightly inclined, the second phase is the walk in a forest with abundant trees and finally a hike up on the rocks which are paths for waterfalls in monsoon.
After an hour walk upwards, we entered the dense forest, with a vast variety of trees. Midway, the guide also started sharing stories about local people coming across footprints of tigers which stroll around in the forest (not sure if it is true though). There was also a small cute Ganesh temple with a bell as the forest ended.
The last phase to reach the One tree hill was rock climbing. We had to climb up through some streams of waterfalls and the slippery rocks made us very cautious.
It took us around 1 hour 40 minutes to finish the trek, as we didn’t stop anywhere except for a few photographs taken very quickly. Though I felt too exhausted midway, it was all worth it when we reached the top. The view from One Tree Hill point was spectacular.
The best part of trekking up to such popular tourist places is you can avoid the crowd completely, you can enjoy the amazing views with your partner or friends at your own pace as if you own the hill :p
We rested for 10 minutes, staring at the beautiful panoramic view of the valleys and the forest. We then continued walking towards the Matheran town, which is around 3 km from this point. You can also find a horse ride or a pull-cart until Matheran if you are tired from the trek.
We had a hearty breakfast on the top, visited a few more view points and returned downhill to our car, in a taxi.
Things to keep in mind
1. Start the trek as early as possible, because once the sun hits you, it gets difficult to trek and it is not very enjoyable.
2. Carry a water bottle, as you would definitely feel thirsty and you wouldn’t find anything until you reach the top.
3. My advice is to go empty stomach so that, you would feel lighter as you trek. Also, I suggest you to carry some protein bar or a banana or some chocolate in case you need energy midway.
4. Taking a local guide along, would be very helpful as the route might get confusing midway.
5. The rocks might get very slippery during the monsoon, hence proper shoes are necessary.