About Matheran

The hill station which is closest in proximity to Mumbai is Matheran. It is situated in the Sahyadri Hills in Raigad district and it is the smallest hill station in India. It is about 90 kilometers from Mumbai while it is at a distance of 120 kilometers from Pune. This makes it convenient for urbanites for a quick weekend getaway. The name Matheran literally means “forest top” or wooded head. This hill station became popular during the times of the Raj, since the plentiful shade and altitude (800 meters) made it cooler than the capital. Mostly it is pleasant throughout the year as it is a hill station, nevertheless in the winter the weather could get nippy. Although the summers could get as hot as 32 degrees Celsius and temperature could go as low as 16 degrees Celsius in the winter.

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After the monsoons would be the ideal time to visit Matheran. The verdant greenery, the full lakes and the waterfalls add to the charisma. Hugh Poyntz Malet was acknowledged as the discoverer of this hill station in the year 1850.  He was the district collector of Thane district. It was Lord Elphinstone who actually laid the foundations of its development. He was the Governor of Mumbai at that time. The USP of this hill station is the fact that it is free of all forms of motor vehicles. This makes the hill station extraordinarily serene. Matheran is one of the only three places in the world where motor vehicles are banned. Venice and the Prince’s Islands of Istanbul are the other two besides Matheran. The walking tracks are extensive, leading you to points that drop sheer to the plains.

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Folks in Matheran generally speak in English, Hindi and Marathi. Matheran is also well known for preserving some beautiful and historic British architecture. You will also find many Parsi bunglows, as Parsees are known for investing in land, here. Roads here are made of red laterite earth and not tar. The main bazaar also known as the market, is a great shoppers paradise. You can buy many varieties of chikki, locally made honey, ice golas, chocolate and fruit fudges, cane and leather articles, hats, chappals, etc.

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Map Of Matheran

Below is the map of Matheran. Use the scroller to zoom in / out.
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Matheran Videos

Matheran Toy Train 1:

Watch on as the toy train leaves Neral on its way to Matheran.

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Matheran Toy Train 2:

This video shows the arrival of Matheran station in the toy train.

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Matheran Scenery:

A short video with some nice scenes from a couple in Matheran.

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Matheran Trip:

Again, some nice scenes. This video is actually from a group of youngsters who went trekking in Matheran

Sight seeing in Matheran

There are several points to visit in Matheran. Most people prefer to walk to the points but for the one’s who tire easily or like riding horses, these could be hired anywhere. If you don’t like horses, you could hire a hand pulled rickshaw. Sometimes one could avail of them even midway. Although Porcupine point is a good enough place for catching the sunset, Panorama point at the extreme north has a much more impressive view. The view is spectacular and on a clear day it is said that one can see Mumbai city and even hear it from Louisa point or Porcupine point. You could also catch sight of the Ulhas River from here. Going West of Porcupine point one would come to Louisa point. This point is also called Cathedral Rocks. When you look down from here Neral is visible astride the central railway line. Another point here is ‘One tree hill’, so called for obvious reasons. This is to the South. Next to it is a trail down to the valley below. This is known as Shivaji’s ladder. It gets this name since the leader of the Marathas is known to have used it.

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There are other points such as the heart point where an adorable panorama of the valley is visible and the point looks like a heart. You could visit Garbut Point, Alexander Point, Malang Point, Artist’s Point, Honeymoon hill, the Charlotte Lake, Paymaster’s Park, Rambaug Point, Lord’s Point, Mount Barry, Chowk Point, Little Chowk Point, Khandala Point, Belvedere Point, Cecil Point, Echo Point and last but not the least, the Monkey Point, where one can spot monkeys in great numbers. The Olympia Race Course is another place worth visiting in Matheran.

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There is no dearth of hotels in Matheran but the beautiful resorts are spread further out at an approximately 20 minutes walk from the station. The resort hotels mostly only offer full board rates. A piece of advice: Find out the check out time before moving in as it could be as early as 7 am. Another important factor to remember would be the season. If you travel to Matheran during peak season the rooms could cost you more than double the non seasonal rates. The peak season is from November to January and mid April to mid June. We wouldn’t recommend a visit in the monsoons either. Very few hotels and restaurants are operational during the monsoons and the trails become pretty muddy and messy.

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There are some things we would recommend you follow. You should take a comfortable pair of shoes for walking. Feeding the monkeys could be hazardous to you so you should avoid it. It would be best to travel light since you would need someone to lug it around town till you find yourself a place to stay. The hotel you select could be at a distance, which would mean you would have to haul the heavy luggage around with you. You could find a coolie to carry it for you but some of them might overcharge you if you travel during the peak season.

Traveling to Matheran

The hip-hopping youngsters from Mumbai find Matheran a great hangout for weekends. Part of the fun is in traveling to Matheran. You need to take a tiny narrow gauge toy train from Neral up the 21 km route to this hill station. The journey takes 2 hours to ascend due to the winding way up the steep slopes. At one point it passes through ‘One kiss tunnel’. The Matheran Hill Railway was built in 1907 by Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy.

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One could also take a taxi or minibus from Neral to Dasturi point. The distance between Neral and Dasturi point is 11 kilometers. This route is comparatively swifter (1/2 hour). But it involves a 40 minute walk into Matheran. Alternatively you could hire a horse or cycle-rickshaw. Only the toy train takes you through the scenic route and lands you into the heart of the little town. More than a few people opt to hike it up along the railway tracks but there are other walking trails which lead to the Matheran Plateau. The local people use these trails for commuting to the hill station. You could also climb up from the Western side, which would mean you would be in the shade for most of the trek up. But for this you would have to start your climb pretty early in the day. If one decides to scramble up during the monsoons, it would be advisable to take the path from the Dudhoni village that would lead you directly to the Sunset point in Matheran. This route takes approximately two hours. If you wish to take this route you need to take an autorickshaw from Panvel to Dudhoni village.

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One has to pay a small fee to Matheran. This fee is collected when you exit the station at Matheran or at the taxi stand if you decide to travel by road. It would be advisable to carry a torch as the paths outside the town centre do not have lights. The Union Environment Ministry has declared Matheran an eco sensitive region. In fact one could say Matheran is a Health Sanitorium in itself.  A word of caution: You need to be wary of monkeys if you are carrying any food items, especially bananas and peanuts. Some of the kinds of monkeys found here are Hanuman Langurs and Bonnet Macaques.

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