We reached Dasturi chowk, the entry point to the hill station. Whoever told us it was 6 km should have been shot dead because the sign board there showed Neral was 9 km downhill. We were so hungry that at that time, the only thing that was on our mind was lunch, so we delayed the shooting bit to a while later.
We found a reasonably decent restaurant and got ourselves something to eat. Dal fry and jeera rice never tasted so good before. All the time we ate, we had to be on the lookout for the monkeys, because they were all over the place and trying to find a way into the restaurant. We were over-conscious after having under-estimated Mawali. With our stomachs full, we reconsidered our plans with regards to what were we going to do while in Matheran keeping in mind the time we had on our hands.
We decided we will walk it up to Charlotte lake which was another 4 km from where we currently where. This time we took the mini-train track leading to bazaar peth and from there on the jungle trail on a trodden path. It wasn’t as difficult as walking on a cemented road was. Besides, the shade that the forest provided was another plus.
Charlotte lake wasn’t very tough to find, though we had our share of arguments on which way to take at times. The lake was serene. The forest had given it a green tinge. The water-fall emanating from the lake was a breathtaking sight. A peak faced it on the opposite end, its outline shimmering under the sun that was soon going to set behind it. We just sat there appreciating the beauty of nature. Anyways, we didn’t have enough strength left to talk or run around. There were a few very special moments, which made it all the more fun for others who weren’t a part of it. If you didn’t understand, forget it, you weren’t meant to.
In the end, we walked back to bazaar peth and from there decided to take the horse. Our legs were too tired to carry our weight back till Dasturi chowk from where we could get a cab. I haven’t had the pleasure of riding a horse before. It didn’t look very easy in the beginning but we got over our fears with time and managed to trot our way back to the chowk. How can I forget? Someone also felt a lot closer to God then.
We were back at the station by 6.15PM for a 6:38 local. With the spare time, we clicked the last few pictures of the outing. Five minutes before the scheduled arrival, M and Y realized they had misplaced their tickets, so the reliable G ran to get them a quick replacement. We made it in time for the train. Had we missed this one, we would have had to wait for a good hour before seeing a local to the city again.
We reached home in two hours and hit our bed as soon as possible to brace ourselves for the working day that followed. The next day, we all had bruised feet, tired legs, stiff backs, stiffer butts (thanks to the saddles) but revitalized minds and uplifted spirits, so the pain didn’t matter much. There’s nothing as invigorating as a trek, especially when it’s with your closest chums.