There goes a tiny road,
curving around the hills,
where winds are fast, trees high,
and sunlight filters through the leaves.
Through these dense woods,
the road reaches up to the top,
where your heart melts, mind sways,
and soul starts to float.
Reaching Matheran is an experience in itself. Situated at top of a small hill. I had to climb a considerable distance from the taxi stop. In old days they used small narrow gauge train line built by Britishers, but now my foot are only option (other khachchar of course). The walkway consists of small trails sometimes above, sometimes below and sometimes intersecting the railway line. This gives quite a drama to the journey.
My companions are children living in mountains going to school at Matheran, local people, labors bringing goods to Matheran and fellow tourists of course: all these varying shape and size of companions, walking consistently along the varying walkway.
But this is not it, as our other companions are our far ancestors who prefer to travel above the land, through the branches, from one tree to another. However they don't resist to touch soil, once a fruitful occasion arrives. Every once in a while, there is sudden attack on any person carrying something to eat, but the attacker does not harm the victim, just rakes what it came for: a banana or some vegetables or even lays.
However going to Matheran is not just about trails, woods and monkeys. The most interesting things that I found were the small towns located on the way to Matheran. Towns which may not have an official name, even consist of a few houses. As the old proverb says, "The life in mountains is like mountains". It's hard to believe that some people actually live among the wilderness, where nobody would dare to walk alone, they call it home.
Where is it?
[Google_Maps_WD id=9 map=5]
Mumbai : 80 km
How to reach:
Via Bus: There are frequent private and government bus services available from Mumbai to Neral. Neral to Matheran is 8 km.
Via Train: Nearest railway station is Neral (8 km). Neral can be reached via local trains also via Thane. Also most of train from Mumbai to Pune stops at Neral station.
Via Airport: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai (90 km)
The Town of Matheran
Through these ups and downs, roads and rails, humans and monkeys, I reached the town of Matheran. And it welcomed me as well, through vada paav vendors and juicewallas, restaurants and fruit sellers, people selling hats and selfie sticks. I may not call it a busy street, but amidst the forests of Sahyadri mountains, it was a delightful sight. But I was not there for them obviously, so I carried on, crossed the town of Matheran and returned back to the nature.
The Trails of Matheran
After going for a while, I reached upon a point where several trails were going down, giving a feel of Frost's ' The road not taken'. I enjoyed the resemblance, but was not going to do that. I found a map of Trails of Matheran and it took me a while to understand it, and I must admit it was only after I roamed around the Matheran that I truly understood it.
So I chose a trail going to Lords Point. On my way to Lords point, I found this small alone lake known as Charlotte. It was a little surprising, finding a lake on the top of a mountain, but this contrast makes it even more beautiful. It's solitude becomes it's seduction. , I suppose.
Continuing my journey I headed towards the Lords point, which I later realized is one of the best view points of Matheran hill. As soon as I reached there, I was caught up in its magic, everything else became so unreal.
After my first view point, I struggled to pull me back into track and head towards another: Echo point. Along the way I met with King George point and Edward point. As the name suggests, the Echo point forms a natural echo of sounds. It is a pointed out rock in the mountain, placing you in between of a valley so that you find yourself in between of free sky, or at least it seems to be.
From Echo point, I went to Louisa point and Malanga point. The path goes through those woody trails again, playing with light and shadow, sometimes revealing something, sometimes hiding. I find nature childish here. Some of the things it shows are old buildings, perhaps built by Britishers, now fallen off, occupied by overgrown trees and animals. A beautiful and creepy sight at the same time.
Malanga point is a bit different from other view points. It is filled with a vast grass cover and a pristine valley to look below. It's kind of a place that everyone dreams of. So I took some time out and sat below a large tree; beneath me is soft moisturized grass and in front a large valley.
Continuing my journey, I headed back towards Louisa point, which was to become the final point of my journey. And it did not disappoint me. For it showed me the beautiful valley for the first time and however I had seen it in parts, it seemed more true when I had seen it from Louisa point.
Coming back towards Matheran town, I looked again the map of Trails of Matheran and as I said before, it was now I understood it fully, it's trails, it's signs, it's secrets. And realized that I have covered only a fraction of hill and there was much to explore. However, my time was running out and I had to pick up a taxi back to Mumbai, so I decided to remain the rest of Matheran a mystery to me: until I come back, again.