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A visit to picturesque Matheran that I will never forget
Being a north Indian I was always fascinated by the beauty of sea shore, beaches, film city, Chowpatty, the gateway of India and the Marine Drive (Queen's Necklace) in Mumbai. I was excited when our university organized our visit to Mumbai in 1973. That was a kind of excursion tour when we visited few beaches and collected our specimens from the sea for dissection purpose. As a student of Medical Entomology we visited only those areas which were connected with study tour only.

My consequent visits were in fact professional in the city of glitz and glitter, fashion and films. I became used to the routes of many places which I frequented time and again. Mumbai was not the same as it used to be earlier. Increased traffic, population and expansion of suburb areas, and the morning and evening rush in the local trains have changed the map of the financial capital of India.

I again visited Mumbai at the time of admission of my son in one of the prestigious institutes of management in the city. The parents were called to have an interaction with the faculty and the director of the institute. After the formal meeting we were suggested to visit one of the loveliest places nearby.  The director told us that “those who have a great love for nature must visit Matheran”. This place was just seven kms away from the institute. Our first visit to this enchanting place was indeed wonderful and memorable.

Matheran is situated at an altitude of 800 meters above sea level in Sahayadri range. It has an undulating hilltop cloaked in green. The entire route presents the stunning view. One comes across the breathtaking glimpse of bright lights of Mumbai once you are on the mountaintop. One can enjoy the toy train ride which takes two hours from the nearby railway station at Neral.

The history of this place is very interesting. The place was discovered by Hugh Poyntz Malet, the then district collector of Thane, in 1850. The foundation of this place was laid by Lord Elephinstone, the then Governor of Mumbai.

At Matheran, we passed through the main bazaar. The shops are small but have special attraction for leather articles like fancy hats, chappals and shoes. My sweet tooth couldn’t resist the chicki with variety of flavors. Few eating joints are very famous and popular at this place.

We were informed that the weather in Matheran was very tricky. Temperatures vary from 16° C in winter to 32° C in summer with an annual rainfall of 524 mms.  It was raining cats and dogs when we reached Matheran. It gave us a relief from the sultry heat at the down town of Neral.

The Union Ministry of Environment has declared Matheran as an ‘eco-sensitive region’. Few call this place as a Health Sanatorium also. The Matheran means ‘Forest on Top’. As the name suggests Matheran is mesmerizing. The area is dotted with several lookout points. The panorama point provides 360 degree view of the surrounding area. The sun set point is just breathtaking.

Prabal Fort can be viewed from the Louisa Point. Walking in the dense forests at the mountain top was an exhilarating experience. For a nature lover, Matheran is the most appropriate destination. My love for this place shall never diminish.

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