Travelogue – Series 11… Matheran

In continuation of my Travelogue Series…

I have discovered “Incredible India” travelling extensively and took the opportunity to share my awesome experiences of the rich Indian Culture through my blogs…..

Matheran Hill Station in Maharashtra:  The name of this hill station refers to the dense growth of jungle as its head. Matheran means a place topped by a jungle.

In city life we stay and travel in cement concrete jungle. We can not experience true nature and its love. We always think to relax, to stay away from busy hectic life. But it’s not always possible to get away from city.   Matheran is the closest hill station to Mumbai in the Sahyadri hill range in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. Being a hill station it is pleasant almost throughout the year..

Getting to Matheran is fun by itself ; it is well connected by rail both, from Mumbai and Pune up to Neral Junction Station, a station at the bottom of the hill. From Neral a small Toy Train (Narrow gauge) takes you through a zigzag route of about 21 kms. to Matheran in two hours’ time. On the way ,there are three small stations called Jumma Patti, Water Pipe and Aman Lodge.

It is a steep and narrow road but well surfaced for the most part.  State Transport buses regularly ply from Mumbai and Pune. Taxi takes about 20 minutes to reach Dasturi Naka from Neral. No vehicles are allowed beyond this point – Dasturi Naaka.    Parking facilities are available at Dasturi Naka, Matheran.  From this point into the town center – about 2.5 km, you will have to take either a trek on foot or on horseback or by hand pulled rickshaws, as motor Vehicles are prohibited within the hillstation area.  Matheran center is a 40-minute walk from Dasturi Car Park.  Once you enter, red dusty pathways welcome you to the nature.  Since, Vehicles of any kind are not permitted in the town, it is a very quiet, serene place.  A beautiful landscape can be seen from Neral itself. Streams cut through the farms. One can follow the road or walk through the countryside along the stream and take the trail used by localities.

The trail crosses farms, streams, railway track at several places to add to the stunning landscape.  Trekkers can rest and enjoy a snack midway at Janmapatti rail station where the road and track meet.   There are a few eateries run by localities. Second leg of the trek is difficult than the first as the path gets steeper. Following the road should get you to Dasturi gate after which one has to take the unpaved trail till Matheran Bazaar. All trails in Matheran are well marked and getting around shouldn’t be difficult.

Nowadays, In Matheran there are several local families who have turned out their village houses in to tourist cottages. This is very simple, cheap & clean option. One can approach them for economical stay. Matheran has many “lookout points” that provide spectacular views of the Western Ghats and lush plains dotted with villages far below.  Matheran’s cliffs with incredibly steep drops to the plains below create stunning viewing points.images (2)

Really ! It takes only a few minutes to realize why Matheran has this untouched, pristine quality about it. This little hill paradise has been left largely undisturbed, since the time an Englishman, Hugh Mallet, Collector of Thane, discovered it in 1850 and declared it a fine place for shady walks. The red soil is everywhere. Matheran is a continuous poem of shady, thickly wooded paths of red mud and velvet moss, stretching endlessly..  Yet, nature herself maintains a mild discipline.  The heavy branches of trees are not so thickly interwoven that you cannot see through them; the shrubs  do not spill over indiscriminately on to the roads.  Monkeys are your companions wherever you go during the visit.  As you walk monkeys will grab your packet of chips. You could wave your crooked pandhari stick (a kind of walking stick) at them,

The Marketplace:  Even the bazaar is just that a small marketplace, not a commercial shopping complex. It runs the length of one street, and contains shops and stalls that sell the produce of Matheran. You can see workmen hunching over strips of leather, fashioning the Kolhapuri chappal that Matheran is famous for Leather bags, leather belts, leather shoes, leather caps and many more other leather products. Workmanship is exclusive and the prices reasonable.   You can also find the glass birds and dried wild flowers for sale that have a pretty appeal. You will defiantly dominated by the one of the market dominated things in Matheran that is chikki of matheran, a sweet made of gram flour, jaggery and cashew nut.

There are altogether 36 points, 2 lakes, 2 parks, 4 major worship places and a racecourse to visit inside Matheran, including…

  • Panorama Point (with the most spectacular views, mainly sun rise) –  provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding area and also the Neral town.
  • Monkey Point, Porcupine Point (popular for its’ sunset view),
  • Louisa Point (on a plateau with views of the ruined forts Prabal and Vishalgarh),
  • Echo Point (which really does have an echo),
  • Rambagh Point (2 kms from Matheran towards Khandala and Karjat),
  • Alexander Point (one km to the north of Matheran) – on the Madhavji Road which is just about 1 km. from the Post Office. From here one can see Garbut Point, Towers of Bhivpuri Power House, Karjat Palasdari Lake, BorgaonVillage, Rambaug Point and Chowk Point.
  • Garbut Point It is nearly 5 kms from the Post Office.  This point must be seen for its colourful Dawn and Sunrise and Horizon.
  • Hart Point – This point offers a view of the lights of Mumbai at night!
  • Charlotte Lake is about 2 kms from the Post Office has beautiful scenery and greenery. On the left is , Echo Point, Louisa Point are on the right side of it. Matheran city gets its drinking water. Since this lake supplies drinking water to the town, boating, swimming and fishing is strictly prohibited here.  Charlotte Lake has dam at one end and temple at the other. A popular picnic spot, it looks splendid in the monsoon, but dries up in the summer. Near the dam is the main Hindu holy temple, the Pisarnath Mandir.
  • Chowk Point (at the extreme southern end of Matheran) – about 4 km from the Post Office. From here you can be seen Karnala Fort, near Panvel, Vishalgad, Prabal Fort, One Tree Hill, Karjat, Palasdari and Chowk Village.,  and
  • One Tree Hill –  about 3 kms from the Post Office on Shivaji Road, On the top of hill there is one solitary Jambhul Tree that marks the spot.

One can stand atop these peaks and survey the wild ravishing landscape, and the reddish brown mountain ranges.

The trees are evergreen, making the plateau forests very dense and even congested in places. The luxuriant growth represents the climatic climax of the forest. The laterite, porous soil along with very heavy rainfall mixed with dense fog has resulted in unique flora rich in diversity on the plateau. The forests show vegetation in top, middle and ground storey. The trees form a cover over large variety of shade loving herbs, climbers, ferns and mosses. The forests of Matheran have attracted many botanists who have studied the flora of Matheran

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