Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Matheran:A hilly encounter

Far from the maddening crowd of Mumbai is a hill station situated at an altitude of about 800mt called Matheran. A two-hour train journey from Mumbai till Nerul and another adventurous exploration via a two-hour toy train ascent takes you through the shady, evergreen forests of this magnificent hilltop. Possibilities of a tough 11 km walk or an exciting ride on horseback are alternatives to reach this hilltop.

Choosing the latter option, I rode along the steep cliffs that provided stunning views of the lush green valleys. An adventure from there began as I looked forward to encountering with the unknown wild, enchanted woods. A common sight of monkeys jumping around, vendors pulling up their carts along the roadside and the mysterious jungles with trees so close to each other made me wonder if they were sharing secrets with one another.

Curious to find out more about the place, I engaged in a conversation with the locals there. It was a destination ruled by the British making horse riding a popular means of travel. As I cantered along, I managed to get a glimpse of the much-talked-about, charming, British and Parsi Bungalows tucked deep inside the forests. I could not help pull the reins of my horse to stop by and cast an admiring glance on to such ancient homes with creepers growing up the walls. A series of sightseeing points like the Porcupine Point, Echo Point, Panorama Point and Mount Berry indeed give a breathtaking view of the Sahyadri range of mountains. I viewed the vast village side, lakes and dams that left me spellbound and my eyes became moist. I couldn’t help admiring the superior aspects of life that has withstood the love as well as the trying times of nature’s fury bestowed by its own creator.

The shopping facilities provide a range of bags and paintings displaying human artistic talent. It was the most beautiful hilly experience I’ve ever had in my life. The beauty part of nature is preserved and left unpolluted by restricting the entry of motor vehicles. Being an ardent nature lover, this has been my closest encounter with the forest world, amidst several monkeys scrutinising you with their curious and keen eyes and riding through the untampered pathway between the mountains. Trees tower you all around, birds call out to one another in their own musical way and serpents crawl by silently. Horses found in plenty mesmerised me with their gallop and mane.

It was a learning experience about ecology and animal psychology. It seemed like a visit to paradise making me forget everything else around. It also brought about a realisation that industrialisation has not yet engulfed the whole world. One lifetime visit to this place will tell you that ‘‘You will find something far greater in the woods than you will find in books. Stones and trees will teach you that which you will never learn from masters.’’
Written for Indian Express



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