Every time we plan to visit any hill station, some high-flying names always strike our mind first. And we cannot think beyond Manali, Nainital and Ooty. In this quest, we often miss out some splendid and tranquil hill-stations around. Matheran is one such beautiful and soothing hill station, which is situated in the Raigad District of Maharashtra. It is considered as one of the smallest hill stations in India. Matheran is located around 803m above the sea level, and merely 2hours away from Mumbai. This overwhelming hill station was first explored by Hugh Poyntz Malet in 1850. Later, it was developed by the Bombay (formerly) Governor Lord Elphinstone. Soon this hill station turned to a favourite summer resort for the British. Going ahead in 1970, Lord Elphinstone connected this mount resort with some of the nearby places like Neral and suburban of Mumbai through mountain rail and roadways. Consequently, Matheran came into the notice of many inhabitants of Maharashtra. One of the significant facts about this tranquil hill station is that no vehicles are allowed to enter Matheran.
If you happen to scale the altitude of Matheran hill station, the untainted and serene environs will amaze your visit here. Ample of visitors flock this hill station on regular basis to have a picturesque vista of the neighbouring Sahyadri Range.
Located far away from city’s hustle-bustle, Matheran is quiet and a cool hill point to visit. The temperature in Matheran during summer lies between 19°C to 33°C. In winter, the temperature lies between 13°C to 28°C. However, at the peak you will rejoice a comfy climate. The people here speak Hindi and Marathi languages.
Interesting Facts: Matheran is the smallest hill station in India and the only vehicle-free hill station in Asia. In the lush bush of Matheran, you will come to see plenty of typical trees and counteractive plants like Kumbal, Jambhul, Dudhvel, Ragatrod, Shikekai etc. If you want to learn horse riding, you can try it at Olympia Racecourse, which is conducted by horsemen of Matheran.
Having depicted the tranquil and comfy tale of this soothing hill station, Matheran has various tourist pulling sites as well. Galore of attraction here turned the environs of Matheran to a popular weekend destination for most of the visitors. Plenty of nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts flock here from Mumbai and Pune to explore its sightseeing attractions.
The following are the key attractions in Matheran that you must visit:
Located on the side of Madhavji road, Alexander Point is a luring site to explore the beautiful panorama of the towers of Bhivpuri Power. The backdrop of Alexander Point will plunge you into the greeneries of the bush. From here you can have a wonderful vista of Rambaug Point, Palasdari Lake and the village of Borgaon. Gentle wind and serene surroundings makes this point more charming and exciting.
#Charlotte or Sharlott Lake
Charlotte is an exotic lake area and the major drinking water source in the province of Matheran. This place is well maintained and less crowded. In winter, people visit the lake region for picnic purpose. In addition, existence of a prehistoric Pisarnath temple at the right side of the lake also attracts many visitors here. Visiting Charlotte Lake in monsoon will offer you a mesmerised view of flying faunas over this famed lake. Some of the commonly seen birds here are Cuckoo and Bulbul.
This place allows the visitors to enjoy the reflection or echo of their own voice. Couples find this place quite exciting taking each other’s name loud at Echo Point. Located at the centre, this point offers you a breath-taking view of the entire vicinity and the lake areas.
If you are a true nature lover, you cannot restrain yourself from stepping into the Panorama point. This site is popular for experiencing an amazing view of sun rise. It is one of preferred picnic and exploring spot for the visitors. Panorama point also allows you to emerge out your trekking, hiking and climbing persona to a great extent. From this mountain peak you can have the best view of some of the scenic sites like Peb fort, Mhas-Mal, Chanderi and lush greeneries.
This scenic site offers you a flat topographic panorama of two historic forts namely Vishalgad fort and Prabhal fort. Nature lovers enjoy the striking view of sunrise and sunset at Louisa Point. Don’t forget to capture the animated natural landscape from Louisa Point, which will cater you a long lasting reminiscence. According to local inhabitants, this spot is well-blessed with breath-taking beauty of peaks and foliage.
#One Tree Hill Point
As the name suggest, this location is famed for one Jambhul tree perched at the peak of the hill. From One Tree Point, you can have a soothing vista of tent hill and Chowk village. Visitors climb till the peak to see the sheer Matheran, and while coming back to the plains they follow the uneven roadway. If you are trekking down to plains from this hill point, following Shivaji’s ladder is an audacious experience. Trekkers find this site idyllic for adventurous activities. However, if you are planning to scale One Tree Hill Point for resting purpose, this is not the place for you. Some visitors also scale the distance of peaks by horse as no other commutation is available here.
If you are accompanied by your family or friends, you will find MorBe Dam as one of the relaxing sites in Matheran. This location is surrounded by temples, villages and lake. Visiting this spot during sunset gives you an exquisiteness view of MorBe Dam.
Visitors flock here to witness the ladder shaped steps that lead them to Matheran valley from One Tree Point. Shivaji’s Ladder is delimited by splendour scenarios of thriving green woods. A blend of tranquil milieu and cold breeze will make your visit more electrifying and pleasing. As per history, it is said that the unexplored route of Matheran was used by the great Maratha monarch Chathrapathi Shivaji. The Maratha emperor used to visit here for hunting purpose. Later, the local inhabitant started using this alleyway to travel till the forest interiors. Shivaji’s Ladder is a perfect spot for trekking activities.
As the name suggests, this point became popular for the affluence of monkeys here. It is located around 3Kms away from the local Post Office area. Since it is located at the peak, you can have a distinct view of the down area surrounded by natural beauty. You will come to see lot many restless monkeys leaping from one to another tree.
Tips: While trekking on Matheran roads, be watchful of some of the monkeys that may target your bags assuming as food items. Hence, it is recommended not to carry any bags or do not forget to carry a Pandhari Stick (a stick made of tree in Matheran).
This is one more addition to your adventitious practice during the trip. This location caters you a rousing experience of crossing the valley by a rope. Though experiencing this activity is quite hazardous, but for a true adventure lover nothing could be more exciting than Valley Crossing.
A part from the above cited attractions, you will also find several small sites here in Matheran Hill Station that will make your expedition quite remarkable. Some of these sites are Panthers Caves, Roman Catholic Church, Nawroji Lord Garden, Hart point, Mount Berry etc. If you are travelling to Matheran from Neral, journey by toy train is something that you must try. The steep slope might make your trip bit prolonged (around 2 hours), but this will give you an explicit and close view of spellbound sceneries.
The best time to visit
Matheran is a cool and less humid hill station, which sustains a pleasant and tempting climate here. The best time to visit Matheran is from September to June when you can best reveal the adjoining beauty of this mountain.
Getting to Matheran is quite convenient, as the hill station is connected to various parts of India by road and air ways.
The nearest airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, which is around 100Kms away from Matheran. If you are travelling from Pune the distance is around 120Kms. From these two famed airports you can further travel till Matheran by train, taxi and buses. However, no vehicles are allowed to enter within 2.5Kms reach of Matheran. Rest of the distance can be covered by rickshaw, horseback or by trekking.
Neral is the nearest railway station to Matheran, which is situated merely 20Kms away. If you are travelling from Pune, board at any Mumbai bound expresses with a stoppage at Neral station. Alternatively, you can also take any express that travels to Karjat from where you can reach Neral by local train. From Mumbai CST, two trains that stop at Neral Junction are Deccan Express and the Koyna Express. From Neral Station, you will also find many taxis towards Matheran, which will charge you around Rs.400.
One more good option is there for you, which is toy train. You can book the tickets for toy train from Mumbai or Pune. No reservation is accepted in toy train, but the tickets are sold only 45 minutes prior to departure.
Note: Be aware of some taxi drivers who may assure you to drive you directly to Matheran hill station. Please take a note of the fact that Matheran is a non-vehicle zone. Hence, be careful form such deceitful assurances.
Matheran is a vehicle-free zone. So, if you are travelling there by car, you need to park the car at Dasturi Naka Car Park Centre. From here it is around 40 minutes distance to reach Matheran. This distance can be covered either through horseback or by hand-pulled rickshaws. Please note that in hand-pulled rickshaws, only one person is allowed and the fare is around Rs.350. You will also find many porters here to carry your luggage at the charge of Rs.200.
If you hire a car, it may charge you around Rs.10-35/km as per the type of car you hire. Total travelling hours from Mumbai to Matheran by car is approximately 1 hour 40 minutes.
Hiring a horse on the other hand, may charge you 100 bucks per hour. This charge may vary based on the number of spots you visit and the time you consume on different spots.
Alternatively, based upon your fitness you can also complete the distance by foot as well.
Note: Before entering Matheran, the Municipal Council will charge a fee of Rs.10 for children and Rs.25 for adult.
Food and Drinks
In Matheran, you can taste variety of luscious cuisines. In most of the eateries you will find a blend of special Gujarati Thali, Misal Pav, Vada-Pav and Chikki. Some of the restaurants will also serve you meat, Punjabi dishes, Chinese food, Biryani, Tikkas and mouth-watering Moghlai. Few popular food corners that you must try near Matheran are Shabbir’s Biryani house, Shabbir Bhai’s hotel, Hookahs N Tikkas Spice Garden, Diwadkars and Hakimi.
After experiencing a luscious food, you can visit Alankar restaurant to try some flavoured ice candy. If you are in search of drinks, you must try the famous Kokam Sherbat here. In addition, most of the restaurants in Matheran serve various drinks as well.
Places to stay
Matheran has plenty of quality hotels and cottages for staying purpose. Here are few of these:
#Radha Cottage Village Resort
Price: Rs. 4,000 – 5,600
Address: Pandey Road
Near Pandey Play Ground,
Price: Rs. 5,400 – 15,900
Address: M G Road
#The Byke Retreat
Price: Rs. 5,300 – 13,000
Address: Next to Municipal Office
Off Road to Charlotte Lake
#Horseland Hotel & Mountain Spa
Price: Rs. 3,600 – 5,100
Address: Vithalrao Kotwal
Price: Rs. 2,200 – 3,100
Address: B P Plot 187
M.G Road- Opp Railway Station
#West End Hotel
Price: Rs. 3,500 – 4,500
Address: R.C.Church Road
Next to Matheran Police St.
Price: Rs. Upto 2,250
Address: Chinoy Road
Near Pay Master Park
Note: The cited hotel fares may vary to some extent from time-to-time.
Matheran is a must visit hill station in Maharashtra. Despite of being the smallest hill station in India and an eco-sensitive province in Asia, Matheran experiences plenty of tourist footfalls on regular basis. People from Mumbai and Pune prefer visiting this tranquil mountain mostly during their weekends. So, this weekend if you are not up to any abundance of work, give your busy life a break and spend your leisure time in the peaks of Matheran. Don’t forget to carry your camera to capture the picturesque environs of Matheran hill.
- Be watchful on the way to Monkey Point as the existing monkeys may target your hand bags. So, avoid carrying any hand bags and carry a stick for safety purpose.
- Carry proper trekking kit containing all the essentials that you will require that time.
- Matheran in winter is a good time to visit.
- If you are physically not fit to scale the peaks by foot, prefer a ride through horseback. You will find porters as well to carry you luggage.
- Do not forget to bargain the charges (rides, taxi, porters) before you avail any.
- If you happen to experience the daring Valley Crossing, make sure proper safety measures are being followed.
- Some of the must see sites are Charlotte or Sharlott Lake, Shivaji’s Ladder, Echo Point, One Tree Hill Point and Monkey Point.
- No reservation is accepted for toy train and the tickets are sold only 45 minutes before departure.
- Before entering the Matheran peaks, you must park your car at Dasturi Naka Car Park Centre, as no vehicles are allowed to enter within 2.5Kms reach of Matheran.
- Municipal Council will charge an entry fee of Rs.10 for children and Rs.25 for adult.
- Carry light warm clothes in winter and rain gear in monsoon. Due to comparatively hot weather, avoid visiting Matheran in summer.
- The red earth of Matheran will leave a mark on you every time you visit here. Hence, chances are there your clothes and footwear will turn reddish. Once you return from the trip, it is recommended to wash your clothes separately as it will leave dirt red colour.