Matheran is one of those British-discovered hill stations that’s located three hours from Mumbai as the Ambassador rolls. When I was 10, my uncle bought a gorgeous bungalow there with its own hunting lodge, supposedly built by one of Robert Clive’s friends.
After that, we spent virtually every summer in Matheran—our favourite good-looking horseman, Arvind, from back then is now a grandfather who always exclaims when he notices my grey hair. My cousins claim they passed all their exams and delivered all their babies because they trotted devoutly round the temple at Charlotte Lake.
My personal Matheran miracle is slightly more pedestrian. Matheran is the only place in the world where I don’t worry about getting lost.
I have absolutely no sense of direction, but in Matheran, where all roads look the same, I always play guide. I can lead a group confidently on an hour long walk from the parking lot (cars are not allowed here) to the house through red mud jungle paths at 4am without any street lights or a torch, and even after a couple of drinks.
When faced with a road that forks into five I can confidently announce: this one to Sunset Point, that goes to the market which has a great open air mandi on Sundays, on Oliver Road you might encounter a panther if you’re lucky, walk 2km down that path and you’ll hit the wishing chair or just take the other one and you’ll reach home.
I never run out of quirky anecdotes and amazing stories here.
It sounds silly, but for someone who, in the city, can’t even figure out from which direction she entered a building, it’s the ultimate thrill.
The people featured in this week’s cover story (Page 12-14) know all about this thrill. They’ve devoted a large chunk of their time to show people the hidden cities they live in, to offer them a magical glimpse of a world that once existed, and of another that is still around.
Who says these walks are only for outsiders passing through your city? Most Indian cities have some great walking tours. The next time you’re in Bangalore, you could call Arun Pai. The former Arthur Andersen consultant says he could give you an a-ha moment or two. We even found you a Matheran expert. Go, put on your walking shoes.
PS: It’s taking us a while to compile and correct all the luxury quiz entries. Watch this space—the winner will be announced next week.
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