Someone once mentioned to me that we lived very close to Asia’s largest pedestrian only hill-town. Huh?! No traffic? No constant shroud of smoke? No ear-piercing honks? No ducking for my life? I brushed it aside as too good to be true. Curiosity got the better of me, though, as B and his merry band of brothers planned a monsoon getaway here. There’s GOT to be a catch, I thought, as we packed walking (and rain!) gear for a weekend.
Matheran stood the test of these tales and rose above the risk of over-expectation for such a popular hill-town. It’s tiny, approached by train or horse or foot from a (mad) parking spot 2.5 km away from the town center, and a trekker’s paradise! We could walk EVERYwhere – along the toy train tracks into the bustling town center, on the forested back roads to a gazillion view points that opened out the western ridge of this tiny city, and through the fog in the night when the roads were ghostly empty. Day drizzle and nippy nights only rounded out the “hill-town in the monsoon” picture that I’m now slowly getting used to. The views were the most panoramic I’d seen in a while; this and all that walking set our hill loving hearts off on a merry jig.
Sure there were tiny catches like pandemonium in the car-park, crazy public taxi drivers on the last 5km stretch of the hill there, horse poo and below average hotels. But when you’re with fun folks and the hills open out like in your imagination, it’s all worth it at the end of the day. And also, like I’m learning on road-trips in India – it only builds character, eh?! ;)
[Photo courtesy: Band of Brothers]