Matheran is definitely one of the best weekend getaway destination for Mumbai citizens during the monsoon. But how enjoyable is it during peak summers? We decided to go find out.
Matheran is barely 3 hours away from the suburban areas of Mumbai. We left our home at 9.30AM. We decided to rely on our tried & tested 4 wheeler instead of relying on public transport. We took the Panvel route to reach the destination. The road quality ranged from good to bumpy, but was not unbearable. We do wish the government works on the stretch just before the ghats of Neral though. It was sunny outside & had it not been for the AC in our car, we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the drive. The ghats of Neral are one of the best places to test your driving skills. We definitely wouldn’t recommend newbie drivers to drive on this stretch. Better to rely on cabs who will gladly ferry you to the top for a nominal amount. Since it was barely a 3 hour drive we did not carry any lunch.
We had to park our car at the parking lot at the bottom of the hill. We had decided to book the toy train tickets to reach the top. The moment we entered Matheran, horse owners & hand cart owners started to literally pounce on us exhorting us to rent their services to reach the mountain top. We informed them that we intend to go via the toy train, to which they blatantly lied “Toy trains are full”. Luckily for us that was not the case. The toy train tickets were easily available at the counter. The weather was hot & unpleasant. We would recommend travelers to book toy train tickets for INR 45 instead of paying INR 300 for a horse ride or INR 500 for hand carts. The government body has fixed INR 200 as the rate for horse rides, so do remember to haggle with the horse owner before hand. We encountered a lot of monkeys on our walk towards the toy train station. Please not carry any food items in your hand while walking anywhere in Matheran.
The toy train arrived on time at 12.30PM. The train was sold out. There wasn’t much leg space. But the ride was pleasant. We view was scenic. We reached the hill top in approx. 20 mins. Our hotel – West End was 10 mins away from the toy train station. Post getting off the train, horse owners again tried to try their luck with us but we flatly refused. Post reaching the hotel, we completed the formalities at the reception. We were taken to our rooms & given a welcome drink(Sprite). The property was beautiful. It has a swimming pool, a badminton area, kids’s play ground, swing, table tennis & carrom. The hotel, like any other in Matheran had its share of monkeys. They even have karaoke in the evening. Considering that we paid just INR 3900 for the rooms + all meals, we were pretty satisfied with our choice.
The rooms were clean. Unfortunately there was no electricity at the hotel when we reached there. They had a generator, which meant we could switch on the light, fan & TV but not the AC. They had a mini fridge, where we stored our water & wine. They had complimentary tea, coffee, water & biscuits, which were placed next to our bed. The bathroom was okay. We were provided with complimentary towels & soap. The shower height would not be convenient for people above 6ft.
After unpacking our bags, we decided to freshen up & head for lunch. The lunch buffet served by the pool side was pretty decent. We helped ourselves to lemon coriander soup, dum aloo subzi, chicken cutlets, chicken pulao & malvani chicken. We topped it off with strawberry mousse & moon dal halwa. The food tasted good. Post a sumptuous lunch, we decided to head back to our hotel & have a well deserved nap.
Post waking up, we played a game of badminton. The trees on the court stopped us from a good game, but we learned to overlook them. We then headed for a swim. The water was chilled & was cooled our bodies down. It was fun to swim in cool water, when it was hot outside. The pool isn’t too big & had 3-4 kids swimming, when we reached. When then headed back to our room to freshen up. We ordered tea, which we intended to savor in the balcony area outside our room. But thanks to the monkeys who tried to snatch the biscuits in my hand, we had to rush back to our room.
We left for a stroll at around 6.30PM. The wife shopped for foot wear from street side hawkers. We bought some chikki & chocolate walnut fudge from Nariman. We bought some cheese to go with our wine from a grocery store. The weather & was pleasant. The air was pure, as vehicles aren’t allowed atop the hill. Post a leisurely stroll we headed back to our hotel room. We decided to not indulge in karaoke & watch some telly instead. Post a few glasses of wine along with cheese & fudge, we decided to head to the pool side for dinner.
The dinner buffet surely didn’t disappoint. We first helped ourselves to some Sev Puri in a paper plate. Post which, we had generous amounts of jeera rice, chicken subzi, noodles, manchow soup & yummy gulab jamun. There were several dishes which we couldn’t savor thanks to our appetite. At around 10PM, the table tennis area was converted to a dance floor, replete with a DJ & lights. We headed back to our room by 10.30PM.
We decided to go to sleep by 11.30PM. We had had a pretty decent trip with no complaints whatsoever till this point. But our neighbours who were sitting outside their hotel rooms which were adjacent to ours & talking loudly ruined our sleep. Several calls to the hotel management asking them to speak to the guests were in vain. They coolly continued talking. Even personally requesting them to continue their conversation inside their hotel room & not in the common balcony area didn’t make any difference. It would be wrong to blame the hotel management squarely for this incident. But had they stepped in & looked after our convenience, we would have had a peaceful sleep. Since it was their property, they should have stepped in & handled the situation.
We got up at 9AM the next day & headed for breakfast. Breakfast buffet included omelette, bread, cereal, tea & excellently prepared watermelon juice. Post a heavy breakfast, we showered & checked out of our hotel at around 11AM. The official checkout time was 10AM. But the hotel management didn’t bring it up.
West End – Hotel Rating – (4 / 5)
Cleanliness (4 / 5)
Food (4 / 5)
Amenities (3.5 / 5)
Value for money (4.5 / 5)
We then headed back to the toy train station for our journey back home, refreshed post a leisurely trip & with pleasant memories, barring a few hours of inconvenience thanks to our neighbours.
Matheran is beautiful tourist post & an excellent destination for your weekend getaway. But we wouldn’t recommend you to visit it in the summers. The monsoons & the winter season are the best times to visit Matheran.