So my last post may have sounded very pessimistic, as if I had some personal enmity with the rain, but that’s really not the case. To make up to it I visited Matheran again. Well, not exactly Matheran but a village called Jummapatti on the outskirts of Matheran. Jumma is the name of the village, and patti means a settlement. Here is the account of the walk (that turned out to be pretty long), which I wouldn’t call Monsoon Expedition as it was just an exploration through tree plantations and a trail already trodden. And here I will also rant about something sad that has happened to a small town called Neral.
WWF - India, MSO had organized a nature walk at Jummapatti for all young and old and everyone in between interested in getting to know the monsoon biodiversity as well as enjoy the beauty of it in different forms such as waterfalls, cool breeze and green fields.
|Looking out from Jummapatti Railway Station|
The walk was especially interesting to me because I wanted to know if it ever stops raining at Matheran. And it does. Certainly in the month of September, at least. I left home pretty early and within a few hours reached Neral station – the base where people gather and proceed to Matheran either on foot or via transport.
Neral is the nearest rail-accessible town to Matheran, and therefore sees a large number of tourists in all three seasons. And therefore, it has seen some rapid development far from the main city of Mumbai. But – I say this with utter disappointment – Neral’s development is akin to destruction. Neral did not urbanize in the right way – the tar roads are worse than the kuchha village roads, and the market reeks with dead and decaying, and there is garbage laying right on the road – from feces to discarded vegetables. This rampant, unplanned development has or will take a very bad impact on attracting tourists to this town. Why, you may think, isn’t the Government doing anything about it? I asked this question myself, but it is not the right one. Instead, why should we point at the Government all the time? As a responsible citizen or at least as a concerned resident of the town, it is our responsibility to look after our filth. If the Government does interfere and decides to put up notices on streets and slap fines to whomever that litters – would we oblige? The Government however certainly has plans regarding disciplining this rapid urbanization, as has been specified by MMRDA (see page 373).
The market, where lots and lots of fishermen and farmers come to sell their catch/ harvest near the railway station is an excellent source to shop and stack your resources before you begin your hike. But this market is far underdeveloped if you take a gander around the posh bungalows – all because of unplanned development. The vendors have no access to a sheltered market, and there are no garbage bins. So the flies that sit on the garbage that sits on the streets, sit on the food.
|Painted Grasshopper, Poekilocerus pictus|
|Australian Acacia plantation|
|Carpenter Bee - Xylocopa sp., male|
|Sweat Bee, Pseudapis sp., male|
|Ichneumon Wasp, probably male|
|Camponotus sp., carrying an injured worker|
|Horsefly, Philoliche sp.|
|Philoliche sp., biting a Cow|
|The Running Water|
|Stick Insect, Carausius morosus?|
|Chestnut Bob, Iambrix salsala on Celosia|
|Tamil Grass Dart, Taractrocera ceramas|
|Peucetia viridana preying on a bee (Apis sp.)|
|An Indian Peafowl male far in the distance|
|Mushroom, Macrolepiota sp.|
|So this is how it feels to sit under a toadstool|
And now we’re finally at the end of our nature walk. We saw a large clump of Millipedes huddled together. I think they were in a mating frenzy (since the season is right to breed and nurture), or they congregate while migrating, especially in the season when humidity is high and there is some tasty organic food at hand. We bid them farewell to whatever they were up to (I did not find any concrete information on why millipedes congregate, hence the ambiguousness).
We hit the road on foot and reached Neral railway station on time to catch a train home. I was happier than I was a week ago.