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A visit to Matheran hill station near to Mumbai
Having traversed through the red mud earth and view points of it virtually, Matheran didn't give me a different look when I visited this hill station last month. But what drew my attention exclusively was its automobile free environment. No any motor vehicle is allowed to run in Matheran that ornates its old world charm making it pollution free. Hand pulled rikshaws and horses are the only means of transport available here with an exception of toy train.
Matheran meaning 'forest on the forehead of mountains' is a green landscape with different kinds of flora and fauna. It is in the vicinity of many major cities such as Mumbai, Pune.... for easy access as a weekend getaway.
Do you know?
Matheran is the only automobile-free hill station in Asia.
Matheran is a municipal council in Raigad district, Maharashtra state. This small hill station located in Western ghats is elevated at 800m above sea level. Motheran is declared to be an eco sensitive region by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Govt. of India. A cooler and less humid climate makes it special during summer. The town is inhabited with monkeys among which Bonnet Macaques and Hanuman Langurs are also seen. One may come across British architecture of old style and Parsi bungalows in this forest on top, Matheran.
Embarking on the journey
My husband planned this journey one day prior to embarking on it. Though our decision was to catch the toy train that runs from Neral to Matheran covering the forest swathes, we were disappointed. As we alighted at Neral the next day morning, there was a long queue formed on the Railway platform and we had to turn back to go via roadway. Taxis were available to go up to Dasturi Naka from where we had to hire a horse or a rickshaw.
After some moments of thought, we decided to walk through the forest route enjoying the valley views. It was about 30 min walk that gave us an idea of how Matheran would look like. There was a stable situated near the Railway station where hundreds of horses were tied to trees on one side. It was a lovely view to see so many horses bred in the dark, dense forests.
Monkeys were always moving and crossing our ways and it was an amazing walk through deep forest. Then came the whistling of the toy train that passed us through the track. The passengers inside the train were having a jolly ride singing and clapping.
About our stay and tour
We stayed in Anand resort for two days while exploring the points and village life of Matheran. We were told that walking the entire way to reach the view points was not an easy task. So we had to hire 3 horses to ride through the red mud roads for the 3 of us. My child was thrilled to have the horse ride, but I was hesitant as I don't like animal labor or slaughter. But I had to agree to sit on its saddle reluctantly for all others' pleasure. The horsemen educated us about Matheran's geography, history and village life during the short sojourn on horseback.
King George Point
A generous view of the mountain cliffs is what awaits you in this point. A lake flowing down the base of these hills glorifies this point. It is said that this lake named Charlotte overflows during monsoon creating waterfalls here and there. We took a handful of scenic photos from this point that kindled our tour's delights in Matheran.
After covering some narrow lanes upwards, we reached Edward Point. There were smaller stalls set that sell drinks and snacks for the visitors. Drinking lemon juice, we watched the massive hills and plateaus that stood beside Edward Point.
A little ahead Edward Point, Echo Point became visible where loud sounds reverberate. This point also gives views similar to that of Edward Point. From here, we headed to the famous Louisa Point to see the other face of the mountains.
Louisa PointClick thumbnail to view full-size
Historical facts of Matheran
- The district collector of Thane district, Hugh Poyntz Malet discovered this hill station in May 1850 during British rule.
- The Governor of Bombay then, Lord Elphinstone laid the foundations for developing it.
- Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy built Matheran Hill Railway in 1907 that covers a distance of 20 km.
On the trail to this point, several monkeys caused hassles and after alighting here, the horsemen waved their stick to drive them away. A gentle breeze invited us herein the widespread Louisa Point that gave us an overall panorama of Matheran from all the four sides. Prabal Fort, built by Mughals was visible from here. A telescopic man showed us some other points such as lion's face, one tree hill etc. in this elegant, visually appealing Louisa Point.
As we returned, we had tea from the nearby stall run by a lady. What was special about this sweet tea was that she prepared it with a big alert for the monkeys!! She threw stones at them using a hand instrument to threaten them that would snatch her viands while making the tea.
We advanced to Sunset Point from there through the dense green forest on the tamed horseback. The horses didn't mess during the ride and were friendly. The kid was stroking it mildly to express his love. After sometime, we reached a narrow trail on the cliffs that was intimidating. Though there was stunning valley views on one side, I looked straight as I was sitting on horseback!!
The trail stopped in a large circle where so many tourists had come to watch sunset. We got out of the horses and watched sun hiding in the mountains spreading yellow light. That was the end of first day's outing in Matheran. We returned back to our resort with a refreshed mind to start the next day.
The next day's morning presented us the beautiful view of this lake, Charlotte. A small bridge crossing this lake arranged the platform for taking photographs. At the end of the bridge, a temple named Pisharnath Mandir is situated in a serene ambience. Charlotte lake provides the drinking water for Matheran residents.
After visiting this temple, we proceeded to Lord's Point that is located nearby. As we stepped down, monkeys came and blocked our way. One of them was showing its teeth as if ready to bite us. Someone threw a stone to frighten it away and we reached Lord's Point. A fog filled mountain face welcomed us in this point.
Ending the journey
Finally we returned back to the resort by noon and went for a stroll in the market in the evening. It had a wonderful display of handmade bags, leather goods, crafts and other products. The next day morning we left Matheran that delighted our dreams with its pleasant climate and vivid valley views.
Do you like Matheran hill station?
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© 2015 Radhika Sreekanth