Amid the green Jambol forest, situated at 803 meters (2,636 ft) above sea level, Matheran is the most splendid hill-station in Maharashtra. It covers an area of 8 square kilometers in Sahyadris. Its pastoral beauty is especially pristine thanks to a blanket motor transport ban. This lovely spot was discovered in 1850 by Hugh Poyntz Malet, the collector of Thane district. He was camping around the village of Chowk, when on hill top he stopped for a drink of water from a spring - which still bears his name.
Matheran grew more accessible and popular under the patronage of Lord Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay. He visited Matheran in 1855 and was mesmerized. He chose a beautiful site for a bungalow and named the mansion Elphinstone Lodge.
He introduced roadways and, in 1907, opened a mountain railway for the first time. A quaint little train chugs slowly for miles along this track. The toy train journey takes you through spectacular grassy hills sides, plains, sheer cliffs, plateau and thick forest cover.
The best season to visit Matheran is between October and May. The Sahyadris attract the monsoon clouds and see heavy rainfalls every year. The hill-station is at its best during the tail-end of monsoons. The season of breathtaking waterfalls, mist covered valleys, dew dripped greenery and floating clouds.
Matheran is dotted with around 33 lookout points - from where you get spectacular view of the plains below or across the Western Ghats. You can hike your way to these through the woodlands. Panorama Point, 5 kms. north of the post office, has the finest view. Below lies Neral, to the west, Mumbai and north are the Ghats. The sunrise and sunsets here are very dramatic. Hart Point and Monkey Point look down on the plains. Porcupine Point is mostly crowded during sunset, so to avoid the rush, consider Panorama Point. Coronation Point, to the south, marked the ceremony of King Edward VII in 1903. You could visit a small Hanuman temple, at `Hashya Cha Patti` village, a short walk away from Malang Point. To the west of the post office, Lousia Point shows off a beautiful plateau and the ruins of the Prabal Fort. Hear your own voice thrown back at you at Echo Point. One Tree Point, Shivaji`s Ladder and Chowk Point are also worth a look. To the east, Rambagh lies just two kilometers away, looking straight onto Khandala and Karjat. You can see Chowk valley and the Ulhas river from Alexander Point. Khandala Point and Mount Barry are a couple of other worthy sight seeing spots.
The main drinking water for the town comes from Charlotte Lake, away from the edge of the hill top. The lake has a splendid view with the dam at one end a temple, `Pisarnath Mandir` at the other.
Breathtaking and shrouded in mist, these sights of sheer beauty cover the length and breadth of Matheran. The Main Mahatama Gandhi Road is lined with shops of all shapes and sizes, that form the main bazaar. called Kapadia Market, it was set up by Mr. P.N. Kapadia in 1919, in the memory of his wife. You could shop around for the famous "chikki" sweet and local honey. There are other things of interest too, especially the footwear. Master craftsmen take orders for sandals, shoes or riding boots and are quick with their service. You could buy walking sticks, snacks etc. from the bazaar around.
Matheran is pleasant throughout the year but the best time to visit is from October to May.
Loose cotton attire is suitable and comfortable during summer and in winter light woolens are preferred.
Marathi, Hindi and English
What to Buy
The famous `Chikki` sweets, local honey, masterfully crafted footwear and unique cane goods which are very economical.
How to get there
- By Air :Nearest airport is Mumbai, 100 Kms.
- By Road : Mumbai - Neral - Matheran, 108 Kms.
(Neral - Matheran mountain rail operates throughout the year except monsoons).
- State Transport buses ply from Mumbai and Pune to neral.
- Taxi services are also available.
- By Rail : Mumbai-Neral, 90 Kms.
Neral-Matheran, 21 Kms.
Pune-Neral, 120 Kms.