Matheran: Abandoned Homes- A Testimony to Time

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Sometimes when I travel, there a certain moments when I have an amazing experience that is hard to describe. I come across certain things that make me feel a lot of emotions without any rational reason. These experiences are not something that I can portray while recounting the stories about my trips with my friends, but are secret memories that are recalled every so often in the privacy of my thoughts.

During my trip to Matheran, I experienced one of those moments when I was hiking with my travel partner, with no objective of getting anywhere, but just exploring the areas beyond the points where the paths ended. We came across two or three abandoned houses. It looked like these houses were abandoned a long, long time ago. These homes looked loving and comforting, from whatever was left of them, but they weren’t cared for; there was an air of melancholy around them. These bungalows weren’t creepy like most abandoned places are doomed to be. They felt sincere, resilient and that had they been given a chance, they would be a doting home to a happy family.

If you would let your imagination run free, you could almost see kids running around in a large front yard, wearing bright raincoats and wellington boots, building mountains and digging wells in the wet mud. You could picture the parents sitting on the beautifully tiled front porch, drinking hot tea and watching over the kids. You could almost hear the calming music drifting from inside as it floats through the cold, moist air. With nothing but trees and clouds around, nobody disturbs the dream that this, now broken down, home lets you live in. 

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To some these houses are just walls covered in moss; or maybe even an eyesore in a picturesque wilderness; they could be perceived as a consequence of the hardships of inconvenience because maintenance in a no-vehicle ecosystem is hard. To me, these houses stand as a testimony to time- houses that have perhaps known love and lost, lived through centuries. They are now destined to wear out and be forgotten, except in the minds of the few who will still choose to see them through the eyes of a dream.  

 

Matheran: From Taxis to Horses

I, like everybody else in Mumbai, am in dire need of a break come weekends.

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The fast life takes a toll on you. Even five days of commuting to work, slogging in a heavily air-conditioned workspace, breathing in the occasionally mysteriously stinking polluted air, sweating and walking shoulder to shoulder with millions of people trying to make ends meet, just like you… Just five days of this are overwhelming enough to make you scamper away for a while, just to gain perspective on life.

There are several tiny weekend getaway places around Mumbai. The more popular ones get so crowded that you find yourself right in the middle of the chaos you ran away from. But that doesn’t mean that these places aren’t beautiful. The only thing is, timing is essential to enjoying and soaking in the richness of these places.

SarahSays 1350Matheran is one such place, a popular little hill-station just a local train-ride and a cab-hire away. It’s so close to the city and yet such a contrast, that you forget about the city you’ve been calling ‘Home’ as soon as you reach. One of the most noteworthy things about Matheran is its No-Vehicles Policy. There are no vehicles allowed in Matheran beyond Dasturi Point. In Mumbai, sometimes I wear my headphones even without music, just to cut out the traffic noises. In Matheran, wearing headphones feels like a sin because the only sounds you will be drowning out would be the wind and birds and the clip-clop of the horses passing by.

There are two means of reaching Matheran from Dasturi Car Park- walking or horse ride. Alternately, there are also hand-carts for older people or those with a lot of luggage. SarahSays 1357 I have never ridden a horse before for more than ten minutes, so I jumped at the idea of riding one for almost 4 kilometers, to the hotel. D, my travel partner, and I found a guy with two horses and started our journey through the mulch and trees. During the horse ride, the horse-owner talked all the way to our destination. He talked about how people like him, from the mountains, feel suffocated in cities. He told us about about the prices of the horses, how they are traded in Nagpur, how they are brought all the way to Matheran and trained… My horse, named Abhimanyu, was a favourite amongst tourists, he told us. D’s was called Mowgli who was a little stubborn but was liked by kids because of his name.  

The horse ride was one of my favourite things about Matheran. There was a nip in the air and I could smell the trees and the wet, red mud. These smells are hard to describe but those who know how a forest smells in the monsoons, know how precious these little things are.

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