Lavish yet affordable trip to Matheran, near Mumbai

Before proceeding ahead let me introduce myself to you. I am a female in my late 20’s who hate trekking. I like to have a luxurious stay but I am very strict with my budget. My main motto during such trips is to have a comfortable stay, explore the place in terms of local food, tourist attractions, local shopping but all within the limit of a reasonable expenditure.

When it comes to weekend gateway near Mumbai, the first place to come in mind is Matheran. So me and my boyfriend planned this trip and named it “Wallet-friendly trip”. It was a 2N/3D stay with lot of adventure.

1st August 2014 (Friday)
We left from Versova metro station and reached Ghatkopar station around 8:00 am. We boarded the 8:15 am – Asangaon slow from there.
• Any Karjat or Khopoli bound train halt at Neral.
• Please check on your m-indicator app for rail travelling updates, like we were constantly keeping a track of trains on it.
As a couple we had to travel through the general compartment which was completely crowded and it remained crowded till the end.
• Try and avoid carrying heavy luggage. A backpack would be ideal.

I had carried this medium size trolley bag which became a problem for us in our further journey. But I had to carry that bag since it was a 3day stay and I am woman..lol. My boyfriend, like a sweet person that he is carried it the most of the time like a coolie. ☺ :-*

It took 1hr 15mins to reach Neral station. As soon as we stepped outside the railway station we got ganged up by the taxiwalas offering their taxi drop till Dasturi car parking (the ultimate end of the road for Matheran). Although we knew that it is the only option available for traveling in monsoon but still we conformed at the ticket counter if the mini train from Neral to Matheran is working or not because there might be a chance of the train working if there has been inconsiderable rainfall during those days. The train service was stopped. We hired a share taxi for INR 70 per seat from Neral station to Dasturi Car parking. There is this wonderful waterfall – “Jummapatti waterfall” on the way which is worth a visit in monsoon and especially if it has rained adequately during the last 2-3 days.

• So you can either ask taxiwalas to take you till “Jummapatti waterfall” or you can plan visiting the waterfall later.
• If you plan it later it may consume lot of time, money and energy which you could otherwise use it for sightseeing on top at Matheran.
• But since “Jummapatti waterfall” is midway please bargain the fare up to INR 40 P.P and you will get a cab halfway from there till Dasturi car parking again at INR 40 P.P.
• My personal suggestion is to make a visit to the waterfall initially only if you have not booked a hotel in advance or you really want to drench yourself in a waterfall. Since it is on the way it does not make any sense returning from top to down just for the waterfall.

We did visit the waterfall but on the next day since our problem was my heavy trolley bag and no one to look after our luggage. My Jummapatti waterfall experience is further described in my write-up. Coming back to the taxi we shared it with other two couples which the taxiwalas arrange by themselves. We had to wait for 15mins which was a concern for us since we had already booked a hotel in Matheran and we did not want to miss our paid breakfast over there. Finally, our journey towards the scenic beauty started.

Booking.com

• Please first make sure which taxi is leaving first coz they might keep you waiting for a long time.
• Try catching it from the start coz anyways they leave according to their queue numbers.
• They sometimes lie about the time taken for the wait coz actually they are waiting for more passengers to fill in the taxi.
• You can also directly hire an exclusive taxi for a personalized drive with a higher fare.
The way towards Matheran was picturesque and it took about 30mins to reach till Dasturi car parking. After reaching Dasturi CP we again got ganged up, but this time by the local horsemen, coolies and hand-pulled rickshawalas.
• You can avoid them by telling that you are a trekker and would love to do some trekking.
• Ignoring them you straight away walk towards a ticket window and purchase a gateway pass for entering Matheran. This is a government tax as a part of their tourism which is compulsory and you need to pay INR 50 per head.
• Please keep the coupon safe as you might require it in future if you decide to visit down for exploring Neral-Matheran. The coupon is valid for the entire period of your Matheran stay.
• Before you decide upon your further options for reaching Matheran station you first need to inquire about the toy train from there which is the best option. But if there has been heavy rainfall during the past days the train service might be temporarily terminated.

After listening to the rates of the horse ride, hand-pulled rickshaws and the coolie we decided to walk from Dasturi car parking till our hotel. We wanted to choose horse but then we had to hire three horses, two for us and one for the luggage. Everything would have made my trip budget shoot up like a volcano. Although we tried bargaining with all the options none seemed to be reasonable enough. We also wanted to get wet in the rain which was not possible in the future since it is unpredictable and it was raining while we made our decision. It took us 1hr to reach from Dasturi car parking to our hotel “Adamo- the village”. In case you have carried a lot of heavy luggage you might want to consider few options here which are

• Hire a coolie for carrying luggage and walk on the railway tracks which take 1 hour from Dasturi car parking till Matheran station. You need to bargain with the coolie. INR 150- INR 180 is a reasonable price.
• Hire a hand-pulled rickshaw to pull you with your luggage. After bargaining they might charge you INR 250- INR280 for a single rickshaw.
• Hire a horse. After bargaining the rates might drop to INR 350-INR 400 for a single horse. Only one adult person can sit on one horse.
It was a scenic view from Dasturi to our hotel. Matheran is all foggy during the monsoons and I named it as Matheran – A walk on the clouds. We got drenched in the rain. There were many tea and coffee stalls on our way. My boyfriend enjoyed the walk through the clouds sipping tea. We didn’t bother about our luggage getting wet coz those were waterproof bags.

View during trekking

View during trekking

• Please do not carry any eatables while walking down this path as you might get attacked by the monkeys over there.
• By eatables I also mean water bottles, soft drink bottles, any sort of plastic bag which looks like as if you are carrying some food inside.
• If you don’t want to get wet like us you can purchase those plastic body covers and a plastic cap for yourself. If you try purchasing from Matheran entrance you will be charged INR 60 per plastic and if you purchase it in Matheran market you will get it in INR 20.
Finally, we reached our hotel and exactly on time. We were happy to see our hotel the way it appeared while making an online booking- a clean swimming pool, the huge spread out property, big rooms. The only thing we got disappointed was when we stepped in our room the electricity power had gone. So we had to unpack and get comfortable in candle light. It was a pleasant stay in our hotel during the 3 days. The food was good, the staff was attentive, the manager was polite, the other guest were all couples, nice DJ, swimming pool accessible 24 hrs with a side bar to carry our own drinks which we did. We had to drink as it was too cold and it was impossible to step in the swimming pool without a hard drink. They had floats for beginners like me. Another thing which annoyed us was the limitation on the hot water timing. We spent the entire first day inside our hotel only.

Foggy Monsoons

Foggy Monsoons

Hotel Property

Hotel Property

Fog over the swimming pool

Fog over the swimming pool

2nd August 2014 (Saturday)
We got late for sightseeing the other day. The horses were available right outside our hotel. They are easily available outside hotels and market place. Even on the way in between the forest. Our plan was to visit echo point and from there to Dasturi car parking since we had to go to “Jummapatti waterfall”. After a long bargain with the horsemen we hired two horses with a deal of INR 450 for both the horses for 1 sight (Echo point) and from there to Dasturi. We enjoyed our horse ride till echo point. The horseman agreed to wait for 15mins at echo point as a pact. We had to enjoy the sight for maximum 15mins. But we might have ended up taking more time than 15mins since we clicked lot of pictures over there.

Echo point

Echo point

After returning we headed for Dasturi. Now to my shock one of the horseman made my boyfriend get down after reaching near our hotel and started asking for more money. Ultimately we got into a big spat with both the horsemen for almost 15mins. They screwed our time as well as our mood and further our money too. Here is what exactly happened. The whole bargain and deal was made by me. Initially when they started making inquiry of the places which we wanted to visit they said they will charge INR 1000 for 2 horses. In the end they agreed for INR 450 and started rushing for the ride. Later they tricked us by saying the INR 450 was applicable only for one horse and that we have to pay them INR 900 for the complete journey. I got very hyper since the other horsemen were shouting their routine package charge of INR 500 for 5 points per horse. My package just had one sight point and Dasturi which can be considered as two sight points. All the sights are equidistant from Matheran market. It was a really bad experience for us since we had to get down in mid forest and my boyfriend ended up giving INR 500 to stop the heated fight between me and the horsemen.
• Please make a clear deal before sitting on top of a horse especially if you alter their routine sightseeing packages. Otherwise, stick to their package i.e. INR 1000 for 2 horses and 5 points which is quite reasonable.
• Please don’t make any payment initially. Pay them only after you are done with your complete ride.
• Try to spend minimal time at each site since it seems our extra time was the first reason our horsemen got angry on us.

As I am not a fan of trekking I somehow struggled through the dense woods to reach till Dasturi car parking. Again we hired a share cab for Jummapatti waterfall which is midway to Neral. They charged us INR 50 per seat. We had the most memorable time at Jummapatti. It was raining and we had carried our own bottles of hard drink. The waterfall is not overcrowded yet not very deserted.

Jummapatti Waterfall

Jummapatti Waterfall

Splashing in Jummapatti

Splashing in Jummapatti

• Girls should consider wearing something very appropriate as the crowd consist of good as well as cheap public.
• As a couple you should consider not carrying much luggage as there is no one to look after it.
• Please be careful of the broken bottle glasses all over the place.
• Please be prepared with the right type of footwear since the place is slippery.
• The water currents are very mild and the fall is amongst the safest fall in the state.
While leaving for top we again got a share cab for us with the same fare. We trekked from Dasturi to our hotel this time. Yeah! Now I am planning to add trekker in my resume..lol. The rest of the day we spent inside our cozy hotel.

Swimming with the clouds

Swimming with the clouds

3rd August 2014 (Sunday)
It was our last day. We had planned to check out in the morning and again trek till Dasturi. To our surprise the toy train had started since it was a sunny morning and it had hardly rained in the night. I got a sign of relief and quickly got two tickets for Aman lodge station which is none other than Matheran entrance and very near to Dasturi. Each ticket cost INR 45 and we had to wait till 12:15 pm. Once the train starts it is a joy ride from there. We reached in 15mins which otherwise takes 1hr to trek from there. From there everything was a repeat and we returned as an expert ☺

My Matheran trip expenses for 2N/3D
Travelling – INR 655 per person
Hotel stay (Including food) – INR 3000 per person

Financially speaking I would estimate an expense of INR 305 for travelling INR 500 for sightseeing on horseback and INR 3000 for a 2 day stay at a luxurious hotel during an off-season which totals up to INR 3805 per person for a little trek, a little adventure and a comfortable stay at Matheran. Enjoy your stay with your partner! ☺. Don’t let money come in your way to bond with your loved one. <3

  • Mukesh Bhalse

    Welcome aboard Tipsy.

    A nice debut on Ghumakkar. The post is full of information and entertainment and the pictures are too captivating. Seeing Matheran with your eyes was an amazing experience. It would have been more interesting if you could have added some more pictures, …… still the post is superb. Looking forward for some more gems from your travel treasure.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Nice Post Tipsy, Echo point picture is one of the best picture.

  • Welcome to Ghumakkar.

    Good post and good to know that one need not spend a bomb to visit Matheran… those waterfalls sure look inviting…

    • Tipsy Tips

      It all started from the waterfall only. This is the only waterfall near Mumbai which is very less crowded and safe too. The water pressure is perfect and there is also a seat shaped rock inside the waterfall wherein one can go and sit and enjoy the water falling in front.

  • Tipsy Tips

    Thank you everyone. The ` mark in my write-up denote rupee. Maybe some font error. I tried using our rupee symbol :(

  • beautiful post.

    • Tipsy Tips

      Thank you Pamela :-)

  • Welcome aboard Tipsy Tips, a very interesting screen/pen name. Never been to Matheran and though I have read about it, yours is truly a step-by-step guide and that makes the place so much accessible.

    Hope to read more from you. Wishes.

    • Tipsy Tips

      Definitely Nandan :-)

  • Stannus

    Brilliant article !

    Which hotel did you stay at ?

  • Jatinder Sethi

    You know having lived in Bombay/Mumbai for 35 years(1965 to 2000) Never visited Matheran. But come Monsoon we use to drive away to Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.with the little kids. .Those were thels Ghats hildays when you had to stop your car at Khapoli-no matter what you were driving-fiat,Herald or Ambi- before climbing the Sahydari G.hats. Open your car bonnet, fresh cold water, at the tea shops of your choosing.Have tea break while the car is cooling.
    Aft.er an hour or so the you were ready to climb the ghats,At Lonavala you stopped to by “CHIKKIS” from those roadside shops,
    While in Mahabakeshwar, you stayed in one of the many Parsi bunglows and spent time in their Strawberry fields.
    During the monsoon, the drive through ghats was a wonderful experience as you saw the water falls of monsoon rain and all green hills.
    Your post makes us NOW feel Sorry for never having visited Matheran. But thanks a million for bringing back memories those nearby hills.of Bombay?Mumbai
    Keep writing.

  • Jatinder Sethi

    You know having lived in Bombay/Mumbai for 35 years(1965 to 2000) Never visited Matheran. But come Monsoon we use to drive away to Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.with the little kids. .Those were the Ghats hiolidays when you had to stop your car at Khapoli-no matter what you were driving-Fiat,Herald or Ambi- before climbing the Sahydari G.hats
    Open your car bonnet,and the water cap, fill up fresh cold water, at the tea shops of your choosing.Have tea break while the car is cooling.
    After an hour or so then you were ready to climb the ghats,At Lonavala you stopped to buy famous “CHIKKIS” from those roadside shops,Especially while coming back.
    While in Mahabakeshwar, you stayed in one of the many Parsi bungalows available on reasonable rent for the weekend.;and spent great time in their Strawberry fields.
    During the monsoon, the drive through ghats was a wonderful experience as you saw the water falls of monsoon rain and all green hills. all the way once you were out of Thana.

    Your post makes us NOW feel Sorry for never having visited Matheran. But thanks a million for bringing back memories those nearby ills.of Bombay/Mumbai
    Keep writing

  • Anchal Sarraf

    I am planning to visit Mumbai in few months, and this article made me feel to surely keep Matheran in my check list of nearby places to visit. Nice article with detailed description.