This post was long overdue. This is an account of a trip to Matheran some time ago.
The Matheran Trek was really hectic. We trekked, got repeatedly drenched, visited multiple “spots” (viewpoints of interest typically included in any organised tour), took many photos and in short had a blast.
In the process we did something which we hadn’t done since a long time – we got really tired. I don’t mean the getting tired from spending long hours on computer either playing games, seeing random movies, reading or typing random stuff. Nor do I mean getting tired by staying late in the night watching TV. I mean many times the kind of tired that I felt when I used to play tennis on late nights in the chill of winter in Lucknow. I mean real hardcore physical strain. I don’t mean the exhaustion of playing cricket in the sun. I mean the kind of tiredness where its not your throat or lungs that give up. It is the kind of exhaustion in which it is the actual moving parts of the body that start groaning, begging you to stop. But you cannot possibly do that. You simply have to move on to see the next “spot” here in Matheran.
When we say “spot”, being such a small word, it gives us an impression of an insignificant little crammed space from where there is some rare view and all tourists in the hill-station would have crowded it with no space to spare. In Matheran, you could not be more wrong. I don’t know how people compare different hill-stations but to me being devoid of things like busy crowds, crammed spaces and everything that a city represents is becoming the sole criteria. Every hill-station will have its share of beautiful spots and so called points to visit. But to me the beauty lies in exploring all that yourself. You don’t need some nagging guide showing you around specific places to see, predefined routes to follow in a well packaged tour. You need freedom and the sense of adventure of being independent in a hill station, discovering new locations all by yourself, and thereby sinking in the full throttled sense of achievement of having discovered a place of beauty. Now if there are hundred other people sharing that same crammed place, that sense of achievement dies even before taking birth. And herein lies the beauty of Matheran. Yes, it does have its share of “spots” or specific points to be seen. But firstly they are not crowded. You would occasionally see a family or two sharing a “spot” with you but you would mostly be alone. Secondly in addition to the regulars there are hundreds other places just waiting for you to explore and are rich with wild natural unexplored beauty.
Sample this. The hill doesn’t rise at a regular 45 degree angle. Mostly there is a steep cliff on its sides. So if you dare to venture into the edges of the hill, it is very likely that you’d catch the breathtaking view of deep valley below and the opposite hill rising with a matching grandeur and steepness of the hill you yourself are on. As we visited the place during the monsoon, we had the fortune of seeing hundreds of these waterfalls all along the route and also on these opposite hills. And that’s just what is near. You could see far and wide the enormous expanse of nature through your vantage point. And Images/photos just don’t give it. You simply have to be there to experience it.
There is so much dynamism all around in spite of the peaceful environs. Being at a high altitude, the clouds were all around us. The windy weather was moving these clouds at will all around the place. It wasn’t raining all the time, but sometimes it would we would be showered with a sudden splatter of water droplets and we’d not know where it had come from. Actually as a cloud passing through us, it would condense spontaneously and we would be showered with a mix of cloud and water droplets. So it was rain in its most pure form which had just condensed. Reaching out and standing on the edges of dangerous cliffs was a thrill in itself. Now imagine a situation. Your eyes are closed. When you open your eyes and see ahead of you, there is a vast expanse of space. Somewhere far ahead you there must be land but you cannot see it as it is blocked by clouds. You turn your head towards the right or left. Again, nothing to be seen but the clouds. You look above to see the sky above to find more clouds. Finally you look down – again only clouds to be seen in all distant space. The whiteness engulfs you. And yet you know that there is nothing but empty space all around you. Could you imagine that? That is what its like to be standing on a cliff. Its really enchanting.
I have vowed to have more of such trips from now on. The next on the agenda are Daman and probably Mahabaleshwar.