It all started one weekend when I woke up with an intense urge to do something exciting and atypical of me. I was turning 30 soon and it was about time I put my fears aside and do something I've never done before.
I have a morbid fear of heights- my feet start giving up, my heart starts racing and my head starts spinning. I have never climbed anything higher than the staircase of my house. When one of my friends last week casually mentioned about her trekking experience, I was hooked. So I made plans with couple of friends and we decided we would trek up the One Tree Hill at Matheran, Maharashtra.
Matheran is a hill station 90 km away from Mumbai. It is at an elevation of 2625 feet above sea level. This hill station was developed by the British to escape the heat during summer. There are 38 viewpoints in Matheran and One Tree Hill is one of them. It is one of the most adventurous and preferred routes by the trekkers.
Also Read : Trekking For Amateurs In India
We decided to take the train since we were tired of driving all the time and needed a break. Also, we had to save our energies for the upcoming trek.
From Mumbai, we decided to leave early and took the Karjat Fast at 8 AM and reached Neral Railway Station.
From Neral, a toy train (narrow gauge) took us to Matheran. This was a very scenic and beautiful ascent up the hill that reinforced our decision that taking the train was a great idea.
The best time to visit Matheran is from October to May when the weather is pleasant enough to enjoy trekking and outdoors.
Things To Carry
We carried the trekking essentials like torch light, water, glares, hat, light snacks, band aids, trekking shoes etc., and also a camera to capture the beauteous locations of the trek.
We reached the base village- Ambewadi and we found a local villager there who was willing to guide us up the trek and also keep company for a nominal charge. Having someone with the knowledge of the area put my mind to ease and cleared me of any fears regarding the trek. He gave us make-shift trekking sticks to help us ascend the hill. We started the trek at 10 AM.
After 10 minutes of ascent, we reached a plateau and stopped to take some pictures. The surprising part is that though the One Tree Hill can be viewed from the base village, you won't get to see it while climbing unless you reach the plateau located midway.
The guide was educating us about the crops they grow. The vast Morbe dam enveloped us from three sides. The world seemed so small and I felt like it ended at the southern edge of the Morbe backwaters, just where the huge dam is built. Irshalgad and Prabalgad lay to the west.
Legend has it that Chatrapathi Shivaji climbed Matheran up on his horse in this trail and therefore it is referred to as Shivaji Steps. An hour and a half into the trek, we reached the forest area. It felt amazing to escape the sun and walk under the grace of trees.
The walk through the forest was peaceful and cool. It's a beaten path, wide enough in breadth and runs parallel to the wall of Matheran and takes approximately 30 min to cover it. Towards the end of this way, a small open temple of Lord Ganesha marks the start of a climb through rocky steps. This is the end of the forest cover.
Our guide asked us to turn left and saw that the One Tree Hill was right there! To the right, stands the huge wall of Matheran. The route further, climbs up through the V in between these two. A rope connects both these points. There is an option of valley crossing organized by adventure companies.
Finally around 12:45 PM, we reached the summit of One Tree Hill point. There is only one tree that is visible from all the view points and that belongs to the One Tree Hill point. Lush green mountains and the pleasant skies were enough to send us into a trance. It is a joy that cannot be described in words. We ate our lunch that we had packed from home, played Antakshari with our guide and started our descent.
The One Tree Hill point trek was such a great adrenaline rush for me. We ended the trek with me asking my friends when we were planning the next one!