We went to Matheran when Ridi (our daughter) was just 3 months old. Travel restrictions in the third trimester of my pregnancy and three more months of almost ‘staying at home’ after our little one came, had made us impatient. Horribly impatient. So what if our baby was ‘so young’? Surely, we couldn’t stop travelling? We tried to figure out ways. Jayant suggested Matheran, which is just a one and a half hour drive from Mumbai City. The rains would have made it beautiful, he added. It was end June after all. Monsoons had arrived in Maharashtra.
I considered his proposal against the requirements of my baby – feeding, nappy change, et all. What if she threw up? Carry enough extras in your bag, said my husband. Didn’t seem like a bad idea after sometime. After all, it takes close to 2 hours from our house to Nariman Point during traffic hours. Why not travel the other side and go to the clean and green Matheran for 2 days? Yeah!! We had decided!!
So over one wet weekend in end June, we packed our bags, filled the car with petrol and food, and drove off. Big momentous occasion for us, the new parents, as this was the first time we were travelling with our baby. Thoroughly enjoyed the drive through the country side — the Monsoons had already weaved its magic. The hills were dotted with waterfalls, trees looked greener, the air was wet and clean. Oh, how badly we had yearned for this.
Now, in all our baby-related tension, we didn’t do much research on Matheran. We simply booked a heritage property ( The Verandah in The Forest) for our stay and that’s all. We of course thought that Matheran was just another hill station. Well, it isn’t. And we soon found out!!!
After having driven rather ‘easy’ for one and a half hours, we reached a point called Dasturi Point, Neral. Here we saw hundreds of cars parked. No body was going anywhere. It was raining cats and dogs. A man knocked at the window and told Jayant that we have to park our car here and walk up to Matheran, about 10 kms uphill!! What, walk uphill with a 3-month baby and in the rain? We were speechless. Upon noticing our baby, the man told us that I could be taken in a hand-cart by four men, while Jayant could take a horse!!!! What a choice!! Actually, it was not a choice. That was the only way out of the situation we had got ourselves into.
My heart thumping hard, I carefully got into this cart and asked the carriers to cover it well so that the baby wouldn’t be wet. They tried their best and even gave me a huge umbrella to hold near my feet for further protection. Jayant was given a huge plastic cloak in the name of a raincoat and off we started our 10 km trek to Matheran. Rickety and rocky all the way, I kept my daughter close to myself, and kept looking outside through the plastic. Braving the lashing rains, there were many who were climbing the hills. Groups and groups of people were happily trekking, without any rain gear, wet to their skins, laughing, singing, joking. But nobody I saw, had a 3-month old in his arms!! Why didn’t we read before landing ourselves in this situation?
On hindsight now, we laugh reminiscing about our Matheran drive. 2 desperate travelers dragged their 3-month old into an unforgettable adventure….:-)
For those who don’t know, Matheran is in the Karjat hills about 100 kms from Mumbai. The Govt of India has declared it to be a eco-sensitive area, and hence, no vehicles are allowed in this small town. You either walk or ride a horse or get ‘driven’ by a hand-pulled rickshaw here. Sounds exotic? It is. And you will love it. Drive upto Dasturi Point, Neral in your car or take the toy-train up to Neral. Beyond Neral, it’s where your feet takes you….Walk and give yourself to nature.