While planning for any relaxing time-off to the terrain of a mountainous range, we cannot think beyond Manali, Nainital, Ooty and few other limited names. And in this quest, we often fail to spot some of the splendid and tranquil hill-stations that we have around.
Standing on an elevation of 803m above sea level and located nearly 2 hours away from Mumbai, Matheran is one such least explored hill station to explore in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Ages back in 1985, this overwhelming hill station was first explored by Hugh Poyntz Malet. Later, the site was developed by the Bombay (formerly) Governor Lord Elphinstone, and gradually the hill station turned to a favourite summer resort for the British. Going further 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.
Having depicted the relaxing and cosy tales of this soothing hill station, Matheran has no dearth of tourist’s attractions. A huge number of influxes from Mumbai and Pune frequent here off and on to explore the scenic splendour of Matheran.
Following are the key attractions that one should visit when in Matheran:
One Tree Hill Point
This is one of the iconic sites to behold in Matheran. As the name suggests, this location is famed for one Jambhul tree perched atop the hill. From One Tree Point, you can catch a soothing vista of tent hill and Chowk village around the hill. Visitors climb till the peak to see the sheer Matheran, and while coming back to the plains they follow the uneven roadway.
On your way back to the plains, there is one more tourist puller called Shivaji’s Ladder, which is evenly an enchanting site to step around. Trekkers find this site idyllic for adventurous activities. Some visitors also scale the distance of peaks by horse as no other commutation is available here to scale the heights. But, if you are planning to scale One Tree Hill Point for resting purpose, this is not the place for you.
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 around the site makes one’s visit to the site more electrifying and pleasing. If historic sources are believed to be true, it is said that the unexplored route of Matheran was used by the great Maratha monarch Chathrapathi Shivaji. The Maratha emperor used to visit this place 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.
Sited aside the Madhavji Road, Alexander Point is a luring site from where one can catch the breath-taking panorama of the towers of Bhivpuri Power. The backdrop of Alexander Point plunges you to lush bush vicinity. From here one can have a wonderful vista of Rambaug Point, Palasdari Lake and the Borgaon village. Gentle breeze and serene environs of Alexander Point makes the site even more arresting and tranquil for visitors.
Charlotte or Sharlott Lake
Charlotte is an exotic lake area and the major drinking water source in the province of Matheran. This site is well-maintained and less crowded. In winter, people visit the lake 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 voices. Echo Point is an absolute paradise for love birds or couples where they enjoy taking each other’s name loud. Located at the centre of the mountain terrain, Echo Point offers you a breath-taking vista of the entire vicinity and nearby lake areas.
Reaching Matheran is quite convenient, as the hill station is connected to various parts of India through the following modes of commutation:
By Air: The nearest airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, which is located nearly 100Kms away from Matheran. If you are travelling from Pune the distance is around 120Kms. From these two famed airports you can reach Matheran by train, taxi or bus. 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.
By Train: Neral is the nearest railway station to Matheran, which is situated merely 20Kms away from the hill station. If you are travelling from Pune, board at any Mumbai bound express train with a stoppage at Neral station. Alternatively, you can also board any express train 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 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.
By Road: 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.
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