Thursday, July 28, 2016


Mathera had been on my mind ever since I first made a list of places I wanted to see in India before I die. Finally after eons when i did get to see Matheran, it blew my mind.  This is why:

The clouds clearing away, slowly, gently, to give our hungry eyes a glimpse of the majestic mountains
The clouds kissing the mountains in a lingering moment of passion, sending sweet chills down our spine.
This was mid afternoon & yet the pace was so misty & cool.
Who wouldn't fall in love with this?
The lovely stream on the way up to the hill station
The forests are pristine. 

The valley below

Being spellbound

Matheran is the smallest hill station in India & the first in ASIA that is vehicle free. Eco-sensitive zone. No vehicles are allowed into the hill station not even the privately owned bikes & cars of people who live there. It has to be parked at the start of the hillock,in a designated space. You explore the hills
on a horse
on a horse
Or this hand-drawn cycle-rickshaw.
or by walk.
The horse, in the pic, is named Lakhan, bought by the owner at Rs 70,000. The ride costs Rs 1100 per person to view 5 popular scenic spots. car drive would have cost us less than Rs 500 in petrol or a bike ride just Rs 100. Takeaway: animals are definitely expensive! But the experience of going on that ride will be etched in our memories for ever, especially for my daughter Tanvi who loved it. She wanted the staff to let go of the lagaam (handle) so that she could ride the horse all on her own! She sat on it like a pro, no fear of falling. She was constantly rubbing the horse’s neck & saying he is responding.

We took the horse ride to go into the hill station. And later walked around & explored the town. We walked back to the parking spot in half an hour. As you can see in the pic above, we walked along the railway track, in a drizzle, suitably dressed in local rain gear which is plastic sheet snugly hugging your body & a plastic hat. The price of these rain protectors Rs 50 only!
The pathway through the lush green forest
One of the waterfalls
There are many beautiful cottages owned by Parsis who visit Matheran to beat the heat, grime & noise of Mumbai. Here is a cottage of the State Tourism Board
The hill doesn't grow or produce anything. Everything you find on the hill is either brought from neighboring big cities like Pune or Mumbai or Lonavla or from the town called Nerul. Horses, smaller ones, by breed closer to donkeys, are used to ferry cement, sand & other building materials and also grocery & household stuff. They are quite simply called the maal-gaadi (maal meaning material & gaadi meaning vehicle). 
The Nerul village
The countryside
Now,let's look at the logistics. Matheran doesn't have an airport. One has to fly down to Mumbai and take a 2 hour/90 KM car drive to Matheran. If you add up the cost of two way flights from Bangalore to Mumbai, two way taxi fare from Mumbai to Matheran, horse ride & sight seeing charges, lunch & snacks expenses, it would cost you Rs 10,000 approx for a one day tour to this beautiful hill station. 
The drive from Nerul to Matheran
We didn't stay overnight here. We chose to spend the night at Lonavla which is another beautiful place with more modern amenities and stay options. but about Lonavla in another post.