It is that time of year again, when the love-struck couples make a beeline to Matheran, the cozy and tiniest hill station in India.
Located in Western Ghats of Raigad district in Maharashtra, Matheran, a quaint little town, the name of which literally means “forest on forehead of the mountain”, is Asia’s only automobile free hill-station and is aptly called the ‘pedestrian’s hill-station’. This little town was one of the favored getaway destinations of the British during early Raj days. Like most hill stations developed by British, this too has many scenic view-points named after the officers of East India Company scattered all over the rugged undulating hill-top.
The best thing, however, that Matheran has to offer is the toy-train ride across the winding hill-side from Neral to Matheran. So what if this narrow-gauge train did not make it to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site; it still is a heritage worth preserving.
I remember a short trip on this train a few years ago. We had taken a Spicejet flight to Mumbai for a long vacation with family. Our daughter was just about two-years-old and the toy-train ride seemed like a fun activity for her so off we went to Matheran. A day in the small town riding horses and walking through the street full of shops and eateries made me fall in love with the old world charm of the small place. Since the trip was made on the fly, I had my doubts about the availability of nice hotels in Matheran, but my apprehensions were unfounded. There were not only regular hotels but also some wonderful home-stays to choose from.
Next day, we enjoyed a walk in the tranquil forest and visited few view-points. And though it tired us with a two-year-old child in arms but the short trip also left us rejuvenated. The little town had charmed us and with a promise to ourselves to visit again, we caught the next ride on “Phoolrani”, the toy train from Matheran to Neral.
If you are still contemplating about a visit to Matheran…… Don’t! The town will enchant you and maybe, like those early British settlers, you too will want to make a yearly journey to these hills. Believe me, you won’t regret it!