Mumbai is hot this time of year. We have a nother 6-8 weeks before we get a reprieve called rain. Rain, rain, and more rain. So, April and May are the time to getaway and try for a place a bit cooler. For us, we took the end of March to enjoy some cooler weather of Matheran.
Matheran – A hill station near Mumbai
At just 90 km from Mumbai, Matheran is a perfect weekend get away. It is an eco-sensitive zone so no cars allowed! One can take a train to Neral and then take an auto to the mini train. Or, one can simply park near the mini train (get a parking pass) and then take the mini train up, or walk the 2 kilometers to the top. The cost of the mini train is 30 rupees per person. Young children apparently are free. There isn’t a lot of room for large luggage, so keep that in mind. There is a daily train from Neral to the mini train depot, but when we went it didn’t run so we had a taxi take us up. Mind you, these are graded hill turns and well… it isn’t like going through Palm Springs desert between CA and AZ, but it isn’t exactly fun knowing there are no guard rails. Luckily the drivers near Neral/Matheran drive much more conscientiously than those in Mumbai!
Matheran has been a hill station since the 1850s, it was apparently “discovered” by British then, but I highly doubt it was not discovered by India’s people before then, so anyway, let’s just say that you can learn more here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matheran#History
When you await he small train you can read about how http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adamjee_Peerbhoy financed his son’s making of the train track. seeing how it is over 100 years later, I’d say Abdul Hussein Peerbhoy did a pretty good job connecting Neral and Matheran!
Amado Resort and Village
We stayed at the Amado Village, while my inlaws stayed at the Amado Resort. You see, we booked online and my husband booked one and then saw the pop-up “comparison” showing a pretty big difference in price so he booked the second room at the lower rate. It turns out there was a difference! Oops! We called and since we booked through a third party they couldn’t change it, but we could try to change when we arrived. It turns out the Resort was booked full! Well during the day it wasn’t an issue – there was just a dirt road separating the two, but at night they locked the gate which called for a long walk! Not an issue except the night when our daughter was sleeping at the in-law’s room and my husband had to go get her in the middle of the night!
If you have the ability, do upgrade and stay at the resort. It has a bit more happening. The kid’s play area is a bit safer (grass beneath instead of concrete) and there’s 24 hour hot water instead of just from 8 to 10 am.
Oh and televisions. Our almost 4 year old came to see “our” room and said it was an okay room, it had an oven at least. What, an oven?
Nope, that’s an old television! He didn’t believe it was a tv so our daughter had to turn it on! Haha! The resort has new flat screen televisions… not that you’re on vacation in an eco-sensitive zone to watch tv, but sometimes you need to put it on to let the kids relax or to watch the news, right
Things to do in Matheran
Matheran is a nice place to relax, walk a bit and take in the natural beauty of the tropical rain forest that once was Mumbai.
I was up in the air on the horse rides because I know few horses are treated well. We found one that looked well cared for and two out of the three rides our kids rode “Welcome.” I really hope this was a well cared for horse. The owner looked genuine and wasn’t pushy like many of the other horse owners.
Walk or ride to the various points. Try Lookout Point. Lovisa Point (my husband went there alone one day and enjoyed it and said it was the best spot).
Buy cheap shoes, and expect to have them fixed for 10 rupees by a cobbler back home (if you’re heading abroad, then take this into consideration).
Visit the municipal park with your kids, especially if the one at your hotel has concrete beneath.
No, I didn’t let my kids ride the ferris wheel. Sorry kids!
Beware of Monkeys!
DO not feed the monkeys! Please! Don’t! It makes them reliant on humans for food and it causes them to steal human food. From rooms! Yep! While the cleaners were at my inlaws the door was a bit ajar (as is normal when staff is in a room) and a monkey jumped in and grabbed a bag! Here’s a photo of said monkey teasing our kids with the “chocos” my mother in law brought for them.
Overall, I think Matheran could have another visit from us. I like that I don’t have to dodge traffic. The price is decent, the travel isn’t too bad (especially since we stayed the night before at my in-law’s weekend cottage (aka “the farm”).