Matheran is truly what it means: Forest on Top. This lush, green hill station, at an altitude of 800 mtr, is close to Mumbai, butstarkly contrasts with the latter in terms of life, nature and environment. Ever since Hugh Malet, the then collector of Thane District, chanced upon it during one of his expeditions in 1850, it has remained a popular weekend getaway with the city crowd.
Matheran is perhaps Asia’s only hill station where there is a total ban on all types of motor vehicles within the town limits. This concerted effort to curb noise and environmental pollution has made Matheran an unbelievably tranquil respite, hiker’s delight. Just follow the red mud tracks and zig-zag trails and one will come to point after point offering panoramic views of the plains below. In fact, on a clear day you can see (and supposedly even here) far – away Mumbai from Porcupine Point or Louisa Point.
Just getting to Matheran is an experience to remember. You take a quaint little toy train from Neral, which leisurely winds its way uphill, through dense forests and past intently watching monkeys. On arrival, one might want to stretch your legs a bit as you walk through the town’s back streets and by-lanes, or explore the trails leading out on horseback.
Matheran’s scenic Point beckon one….Porcupine Point is a good place for catching a glorious sunset, but Panorama Point, at the extreme north, is said to offer the finest views. The western side is known as Cathedral Rocks and at the south, near One Tree Hill, is a trail down to the valley known as Shivaji’s Ladder, which, as legend has it, the great Maratha leader actually used. But that’s not all. Matheran is also home to some of the most beautiful Parsee bungalows, which are reminiscent of the British Raj. Almost hidden under the dense meshwork of greenery, these bungalows are passionately maintained, their old – world charm as new as ever.
STD Code: 021483
Climate: Temperature vary from 16°C in winter to 32°C in summer with an annual rainfall of 524 cms. Light woolens in winter and cottons in summer will keep you comfortable. Torches and a good pair of walking shoes are recommended.
Getting There & Away: How to reach Matheran
Road: State Transport Buses ply from Mumbai and Pune to Neral.
Rail: Neral is nearby railhead. Mumbai Neral distance is 90 km and Pune Neral distance is 120 km. Matheran is 21 km away from Neral and Toy train service is available.
Air: The nearest airports is Mumbai, 100 km away.
Tourist Attractions in Matheran
Panorama Point: The farthest Point in Matheran, it offers a panoramic view of the Sahyadri Range. Watching sunrise from this point is an unforgettable experience.
Charlotte Lake: This is Mathran’s main source of drinking water, and a favourite picnic spot. The lake has dam at one end and a temple at the other. During the monsoons, Charlotte Lake makes quite a scene.
Mount Barry: Standing high and proud, Mount Barry provides one of the best views of the plains. While visiting this point you could also visit Governor’s Hill, another Point that lies between Mount Barry and Panorama Point.
King George Point: The King may or may not have witnessed the splendor of this Point, but one should visit it if one is in Matheran during, or immediately after, the monsoon. The sight of the beautiful waterfall overflowing from Charlotte Lake will make your journey worth it. One could even reach the mouth of the waterfall if cautious enough, as strong winds throw the cascading water back in the opposite direction.
Besides these, Matheran has many other locations offering distant but panoramic views. While Louisa Point provides a good view of the plateau and the ruins of the Prabalgad Fort, Hart Point offers you a superb view of the glittering city of Mumbai at night. Porcupine Point is noted for its sunset views, while Echo Point can be a thrill to children when they hear their voices booming back at them across the valleys.