Disclaimer: This post excludes the following travelers:
1. Elder people- No age limit specified. Decide yourself.
2. Traveler with babies- If they find it difficult to carry babies on shoulders or in baby bags.
3. Honeymooners- I understand. It is not expected of them to pay attention anywhere else.
Well there are ten things to do in Matheran but in two different ways. I will share both ways and then we can choose.
I/we/you can do the following:
1.Wear a crisp starched cotton Saree, skirt and like, hold it up to knees to keep it away from the all pervading red earth.(Remember! elders are already excused.)
2.Wear a flowing Dupatta, voluminous Anarkali, hang a leather purse, clutch, combine it with delicate pumps or rustic kolhapuris, and then give a puzzled look at the red earth.
3.If a male, wear a button-down shirt, crisp light beige trouser, shining tan colored leather shoes and then do the same: look puzzled at the red earth.
4.Let us give the finishing touches with perfumes, lipstick and a final gloss on shoes.
5.Now that I/we/you are ready, hire a hand cart or a pony, curse the only pedestrian only hill station, take the list of viewpoints out, haggle with the cart-man or horseman about which points he would cover in a day, and mount upon.
6.Tick all the viewpoints one by one, while sipping chai at one point, cold drink at another, samosa at yet another and so on. Kindly ignore the guavas. These are calorie rich fruits, suitable only for the poor traveler on foot.
7.It is evening now. Pay the cart-man/horseman, scurry to an eatery and realize that there is not much in Matheran to do. Also realize that I/we/you have not bargained properly with the cart-man/horseman.
8.Now that I/we/you have provided more energy to body than needed, head straight to the bazar. No travel experience is complete without shopping.
9.Look for the Chapplas, camel-leather bags, sweaters, jewelries. These are the local specialty of Matheran.
10.Now Matheran seems a good place to visit. Time to go back to hotel and sleep well.
1.Wear some comfortable clothes and shoes and just wander.
2.Wander to all or any of the view points or to none, but wander.
3.Wander on the narrow-gauge railway treks.
4.Wander and stop to watch locals using catapult to chase the monkeys away.
5.Wander and find that monkeys are still there.
6.Wander and stumble upon old Villas.
7.Wander to get your shoes colored red.
8.Wander and find a Parsi Kabristan.
9.Wander and aspire that you would be as fit as the old Parsi people, walking on the Matheran mud-paths.
10.Wander, wander, and just wander. I/we/you find that Matheran is a wonderful place.
Hope You fit yourself in one of these two ways.
Now having chosen your way, whichever it is, let us go and enjoy Matheran Sunset.
We have been wandering here and there since morning instead of taking any interest in any viewpoint. Our shoes, sacks and tresses are tinged in red of the Matheran earth. But I do want to watch sunset. So sunset point is the destination now.
“Kids! Come back. Sun is getting late. It has to go, else Americans will bomb us that we kept the sun for more time than our fair share.” I try this one after failing to keep them on the trek to sunset point.
“Will it Mamma?” younger one asks, having found, well, heard something more interesting than their adventurous detours in woods.
“It may. If sun gets late, President’s kids will keep on sleeping and they will miss the school bus. Then the president will have to drop them. Then he will be late for the office. He will send the spies to find out who delayed the sun. They will find that sun was waiting for two kids who had promised that they would come to say goodbye.”
Kids chuckle and follow me, expanding the story all the time, and laughter is tired of our ‘more than reasonable’ use of her. The eldest male in the group feels a proud husband for a change from feeling proud father all the time.
We march ahead to the sunset view point.
It looks we have arrived somewhere else. An assembly of horses is going on and the horseman are waiting for the nobles of this assembly. I do not want to be an uninvited guest and ask one horseman.
“Where is the sunset point?”
“Here madam here.” He points to the way beyond the assembly.
I double check it and herd my family around the ‘noble group’ to reach the ‘way’.
Aha! This must be the sunset point. Where else can you find so many people if not at a view point? Certainly not on the mud treks, dirtying their leather boots, Kolhapuris, peep toes and stilettos?
Some of these (people, not horses) are near the juice stalls, fruit stalls, chai wallas and many at cold-drink wallas. They are hungry by now, having ridden upon the horses all the day, galloping from one view point to another. I realize, horse riding must be an energy consuming job.
There is a barricade at the brink of the ‘sunset point’ hill, lest people fall in the valley, mad by the red in the sky. There is ample space to enjoy the sunset for all: men, women, children, horses and monkeys. Everyone has more or less a chance of finding a good corner to sit but in solitude. It so happens that monkeys decide to practice acrobatics at the barricade and thus occupy the prime position, sending all the humans back. Humans for sure have more mind and climb atop all the small hillocks to get the ‘best’ view. Poor horses! They are tired of carrying the living load for the whole day and bored of seeing the sunset every evening; they just stand at one place together like gentlemen.
My kids too want to climb up a hillock so we choose one that by any chance will not topple down in the valley. And it has the added advantage of overlooking the horse assembly besides the valley view.
Sun, who has perfected its part of this daily theater, now takes the center stage between two distant hills. Lighting arrangement is continuously changing now, turning to red and orange, in different tonal settings.
One gentleman on a hillock feels so happy by this performance that he takes out a biscuit packet and throws it to the monkeys. A troop of monkeys arrive at the hillock and displace all its occupants. Now the monkeys bicker and the people quibble.
Out of the earshot of this battleground, Sun is rendering the last lines of its role, basking in soothing deep orange-red light.
The ‘click-click-click’ reverberate from the hills to the valleys. This affects the horses deeply. Many raise the tail. The sound of cascading water and thump of droppings resonate in the atmosphere. An aromatic breeze fills the hills and lingers on.
The sun is unable to bear this display of affection and decides to disappear quickly. Suddenly I smell the red earth and find that my palms have stood up to the moment to protect my nostrils to let my eyes enjoy the splash of red-orange colour that sun has thrown behind.
Watching the sunset turns out to be a laborious work for people. After all, it is no an easy thing to throw the sun from here to the USA. Many throng to the food stalls and others mount on their horses. Monkeys now are not interested in the valley anymore and give company to the hungry people. Everyone at once wants his or her ordered food. The vendors appoint a small battalion armed with a stick and a catapult. All enjoy their food amidst the heavy protection.
The Great Matheran Sunset is over.