Wednesday 26 June 2013

The Faded Beauty of Matheran

We had two gaps in the rain during our weekend away, each lasting for about two hours.  In one of those gaps, we walked from our hotel to the car park on the way back home.

These respites from the monsoon weather gave us a small insight into good old days of Matheran, when the hill was filled with handsome British and Parsi bungalows and the place was litter and tourist free.  Hailing from the UK, I am always fascinated by places that are clearly influenced by the British. In Matheran, I imagine elegant Victorian or Edwardian ladies in the latest fashions, escaping the unbearable heat of the city. There would have been parasols, carriage rides, High Tea, parties on the verandah and walks in the country. The men would have smoked cigars together in drawing rooms while the ladies fanned themselves and played cards. Simply delightful!

Unfortunately - as with so many old places in and around Bombay, things have been left to decline and rot.  I was dismayed to see so many of the old bungalows falling into dereliction. Now, these historic buildings merely provide homes to the hundreds of feral monkeys to be found in Matheran. 

A sadly mouldy, rotting bungalow
Whilst the paths were generally well maintained - I was also disheartened to see (that as usual) the main viewpoints were filled with rubbish.  Water bottles, sweet wrappers and meal containers carelessly flung over fences and on to steep inclines that would make it impossible to clean up (if indeed, the desire to clean up existed). 

Come on India, why do you have to do this?  Why can't you respect your beautiful old architecture and open spaces? 

Some photos:

Many of these gateposts to be found in Matheran - a sign of more beautiful times

A fine old bungalow with a big verandah up front - closed up and decaying

Rickshaws resting

Matheran high street -  buildings falling apart in the background

TV repair men on Matheran high street!

Every where we walked - dogs accompanied us!
Pre-rain mist preventing good visibility

Miserable rubbish

This is the view if you were to look up from the rubbish.  So sad to see this trash in the foreground

Beautiful Art Deco detailing

Imagining finer times - partying on that beautiful terrace

The monkeys are happy though - they live in the lap of luxury!

More grandiose but decaying Art Deco gate posts

This one is about to completely tumble over.


  1. Lovely account of a pretty little hill station decaying slowly but surely. Not much hope for the miserable rubbish dumped everywhere in India. Just can't stand the way people throw their trash anywhere and everywhere. Wish people here would become a bit more conscious about hygiene and cleanliness.

    1. I know...I've been thinking of starting a campaign about rubbish awareness...but honestly, where would one start??

  2. I visited in April when it was almost unbearable hot.We were thinking of the times long gone and how lonely the Victorian or Edwardian Ladies must have been ...not really allowed to mingle with the locals ,always on their best behavior AND imagine the dress code!
    It was truly sad to see all this crumbling beauty and the carelessness concerning the trash.
    But you managed ( again) to capture the beauty of the place.Did you take the train or the horses up the hill?

    1. Hey how are you doing - you certainly managed to do a lot on your trip over! Yes we took a horse up the hill (see previous post) which was kind of hard if you're not used to riding horses. But fun.

  3. The houses are probably in a state of disrepair because the heirs are too busy fighting over the property in court! With skyrocketing property values in India, that land is worth a fair bit.

    Enjoy reading your blog - left Bombay a long time ago though still come back for a visit. Your blog is a nice walk down memory lane - though you're probably seeing more of it than I ever did!

    1. Thanks so much for dropping in and commenting...always nice to hear from new readers. Yes that's a good point about the property. A lot of that goes on in Bandra where we are staying - hundreds of beautiful old Art Deco bungalows falling into decay whist people fight over the valuable land underneath them. So sad!

  4. I've never been to Matheran but I thought there was a little train that took you up the mountain. I found this link on the net Was it not running (curious why your only options were walking or horseback)?

    1. Hi there, we decided to take a horse from the car park to our hotel as we thought it would be more fun. Also, we thought there was no train as I believe it closes during part of the monsoon season. So you should check before going. As it happens, we saw the train that day - we overtook it on our horses!

  5. Hi,
    I really like your post.
    Thanks for sharing such great information. It is very informative and provides knowledge of places to see in matheran



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