Childcare and You

Childcare and You

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Zero Pollution of Matheran


As we go up the Western Ghats, at a height of about 800 meters above sea level, nestled amid the scenic green of the Jambol forest, lies Matheran, a small hill station with its pristine pastoral beauty and zero pollution, thanks to a total ban of any vehicular traffic in the region. 
 the western ghats road

It is a trekker’s paradise with many nature trails to choose from. Matheran is a spectacular weekend retreat and a great stress buster for those bogged down with work pressures. You can go there, soak in the atmosphere and return home with a refreshed mind and rejuvenated body.

The name “Matheran” means “Woodlands overhead” and was discovered by a British named Huge Mallet in 1850, during the British rule in India. Matheran is a plateau, in the hilly Sahyadri range, in Raigad district of Maharashtra. You can travel to Matheran by road only up to the extreme outskirts of the hill station called the Dasturi car point, which is a couple of kilometers away from Matheran. You have to leave your car/bus at that point and choose between hand-pulled rickshaws and horses to take you along a dirt road, to your hotel. Alternatively, you can take the train to the nearest railway station in Matheran called Neral. From Neral, you take a share-a-cab to Dasturi Point (11 kms). The best time to go to Matheran is soon after the monsoons (Sept-Oct) when the whole region is lush and green with dense vegetation and forest cover. 

My friends and I left for Matheran from Mumbai, one early morning in a Mini Bus (approx 90 kms) and reached Dasturi point in less than 3 hours. The road up to Dasturi was tarred and smooth in some places and uneven and potholed in some parts of the way.

At Dasturi point, after buying entry tickets to Matheran, we hauled our luggage to the area where several horses were tethered on one side and the hand-pulled rickshaws were parked on the other. The air was strong with the smell of horse dung and the sound of people haggling over the ride charges. A friend and I chose to ride the horse (approx 40 minutes) to the hotel, while the others chose to walk along the railway track that is a shorter route and more scenic. Their luggage was sent ahead in a hand-pulled rickshaw. You also have an option of hiring porters to carry your luggage. 

It was my first horse ride and I was rather apprehensive at first but my horse was a gentle soul (he seemed oblivious to my body tremors that must surely have transmitted to him) and the guide had his hands firmly on the reins. The dirt road was uneven, wet and squishy due to recent rains. There was an abundance of boulders lying around and I felt my hair stand on end whenever my horse negotiated them with apparent ease.

Finally, we reached our hotel (Brightland Resorts). We had unexpected visitors during lunch – monkeys. Matheran has a fairly good population of monkeys and you will see them everywhere you go, looking for something to eat, preferably from your hand or your luggage. Monkeys are unpredictable creatures at best and can turn violent if confronted (like humans, I might add).

During lunch, a couple of monkeys tried to get in through the long glass windows but thankfully they were locked as the hotel staff were used to their menace and hence prepared. After lunch, we walked on one of the many walking trails seen there. It was drizzling lightly intermittently, so we stopped at a general store to buy raincoats. The raincoats were transparent, cheap and locally made. 

 walking on one of the many nature trails

We stopped at a couple of scenic panoramic spots to admire the breathtaking view that was partially obscured with mist coming in from the hills. 

 

There were roadside vendors selling hot roasted corn sprinkled with salt and spices that is a local delicacy in India during the monsoon and winter months.