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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the history and culture of Matheran?

Jigyasha Prasad DEC 10 2012
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

So, history has always been your favourite subject? Do you travel to destinations with a historian’s lens firmly fixed in your eyes and mind? Well, Matheran sure has something to tell you about its historical and cultural contours. Continue reading if you wish to know more.

Famed as the smallest hill station in India, this picturesque countryside town in the state of Maharashtra boasts of as many as 38 viewpoints from where you can enjoy the scenic Sahyadri Hills and the valleys below. Being an eco-sensitive zone, the unspoilt hill station is a fantastic weekend-getaway for people, especially those residing in the nearby metro cities like Mumbai and Pune.
Matheran was discovered in May 1850 by Hugh Poyntz Malet, collector for the Thane district, while he was climbing the path known as Shivaji’s Ladder. Thereafter, the then Governor General of Bombay, Lord Elphinstone gave further guidelines to develop this region into a full-fledged hill-resort where British officers can come and beat the summer heat and refresh themselves.

The nearest to this place is another beautiful town called Neeral, which lies at the base of Matheran’s hills. In 1907, Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy built the heritage railway service called Matheran Hill Railway or Matheran Light Railway. The train runs for approximately 21 km and connects towns like Neeral to Matheran and covers large swathes of forests in the Western Ghats. In fact, UNESCO considered endowing the railway with a World Heritage Site in 2009, but sadly things could not materialise then.

Matheran experienced severe floods in July, 2005 because of which a substantial portion of the railway line was damaged. It took quite a long time for the government to restore the railway service which ultimately began to re-function in April, 2007.

The stunning landscapes, the awe-inspiring and the steep cliffs of Matheran all owe their continuing charm to the ban of vehicles in this pristine town. The population of the town is very simple and nature-loving. They welcome tourists with open arms, especially fellow Indians, though foreigners may sometimes need mediators here. The dizzying heights and the unordered look the green surroundings give the town a rustic charm.

People generally converse in Marathi, Hindi or English. They largely indulge in agriculture and tourism activities and do not seem to favour the arrival of industries in their serene, unpolluted town. They are extremely fond of their Marathi culture and celebrate their festivals, especially Ganesh Chaturthi, with great pomp and show.

If you are looking for peace of mind, a reprieve from the milling crowd, then Matheran is the place to be in. You can know more with the fantastic places to visit in Matheran.

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