Small "Pollution Free" hill station nearly 2 hours / 100 KMs from both Mumbai and Pune.
Matheran was discovered by Hugh Malet in 1850. The British developed Matheran as a popular tourist resort. At an elevation of around 800m (2,625 ft) above sea level Matheran is a hill station located about 100 km from Mumbai & Pune. Matheran literally means jungle on top. All vehicles (Except emergency vehicles) are banned here. The roads are not tarred and are made of red laterite earth. The only modes of transport are on Horseback, by man-pulled rickshaw, or on foot. Every one living in cities needs this sort of change once in a while. Old British-style architecture has been preserved in Matheran and most structures are now heritage structures.
Best Time : After the Monsoon & Winter Season.
By Rail - Nearest rail head for Matheran is Neral Junction on Mumbai - Pune Railway line. The Sahyadri Express departing Pune Junction at 8:15 AM is the only long-distance passenger train that stops at Neral. Alternatively, you board the Sinhagad Express departing Pune at 6:00 AM or newly started Pune - Nasik train at 12:50 PM, alight at Karjat Junction, and then move on towards Neral boarding a local train. You can take Neral - Matheran mini toy train or private share taxis to reach the top. Train will take 2 hours where as taxis will take just 20 minutes.
By Road - There are many share-a-cabs which take you to matheran from Neral. The distance from Neral to Dasturi Point (last point to which vehicles are allowed in Matheran) is 6 km. The drivers that ply through the roads have immaculate driving skills, so a real advice here is not to keep eyeing the blind turns and foot-to-brake co-ordination, but to just enjoy the breath-taking views as you climb up towards the Dasturi point
Please note that - Cars are not allowed within Matheran. However you can drive up and park your car at Dasturi Naka. There are no proper parking lots and parking would be at the owner's risk. If you are driving from Pune, you get off the Pune-Mumbai Expressway at the Khopoli exit after passing Lonavla/Khandala and get onto the old Pune-Mumbai road (NH4). Approximately 18 kms later, you turn right at Chowk phata to Karjat. Follow the signs for Neral / Matheran from then on.
In shady trees, and unpolluted air the journey to this hilltop could be through an exciting two hour ascent in a toy train, with food and drink vendors and monkeys jumping on and off, or through a tough 11 km. road hike passing from dense forests. Mr. Hugh Poyntz Malet, the then Collector of Thane, discovered Matheran (meaning "forest on the top") in May 1850. Lord Elphinstone, the then Governor of Mumbai laid foundations of the future development of Matheran as a hill station. This 2-foot narrow gauge hill railway, connecting Neral was opened to traffic in 1907.
This hill railway was built by Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy, who formed a limited company with an authorized capital of ten lakh rupees divided into 2000 shares. The railway is 20 km. (12.6 miles) long and has a gauge of two feet with a ruling gradient of 1 in 20. The track zig zags up the side of the hill, bringing into view the full beauty of the Matheran Hill.
There are four-five pairs of train running between Neral and Matheran. However, during monsoon i.e. June to September, only one pair of train is run to open timings.
Neral - Matheran Heritage train will soon have new transparent coaches with added comfort and better legroom.
The toy train time table (as of Apr '08) are -
Most of the Matheran Hotels serve pure Vegetarian Food (Thali or Buffet system). There are few hotels owned by Parsis like Lords Central which serves non-vegetarian food as well.
What to Shop -
The main bazaar offers a variety of articles such as cane and leather articles, hats, chappals and the sweet specialty - Chikki & Choco-Walnut Fudge!
Where to stay -
There are many hotels and MTDC Holiday Resort which offers comfortable accommodation at Matheran.
Reccomonded resorts like Anand Ritz, Richie Rich, Hotel Regal, The Byke, Usha Ascots, Verhandah in the Forest, Hotel Panorama, Brightland Resort, Horseland Hotel, Rangoli Retreat for families. Most of the Matheran hotels do not have any valley or mountain view and serve pure vegeterian food except for Lords Central hotel which is owned by Parsi. For large groups, Hotel Preeti could be good option which has 11 four bedded rooms, 3 six bedded rooms, 5 three bedded roooms and 1 eight bedded room.
Places to visit in Matheran -
Matheran has 38 points at which can get a glimpse of nature's beauty. However to cover most of these points requires atleat one night stay in Matheran. Point seeing in Matheran is quiet easy due to the presence of sign boards and map. Maps are also easily availbale in Matheran and can be used to plan your point seeing. You may also take horseback ride for Rs. 200-300 which will show you few important points. Given below are few view points which shouldn't miss -
Echo point - offers a panoramic view and allows you to enjoy the echo's
King George point - A must visit point in monsoon as it offers a beautiful view of the waterfall formed by the water overflowing from Charlott Lake. One can even reach he mouth of the waterfall with care, strong wind prevents the water from falling down and throws it back.
Charlott Lake - It's the only water source atop Matheran nad it provides water to entire Matheran. The famous Echo and Louisa Points are on the right side of the lake and Pisarnath Mandir lies to its left.
Louisa Point - It offers a beautiful face on view of the waterfall seen from the King George point. The waterfalls can be seen in the month of September and October soon after the monsoons. One of the hillocks on this point is called Lion’s Head.
Panorama point - This is 'sun-rise' point. The longest point in Matheran. Almost 6 kms from market. One can see 'Neral' on east and 'Panvel' on the west of the point. The other points in Matheran like Sunset Point , Monkey Point , Maldunga Point and Heart Point etc. are also to the west. If weather is good, you can see Khandala and Bhimashankar ranges as well. Truly, 'the king of all points' is Matheran.
Sun-set/Porcupine Point - Famous for Sunset. Named after its shape like the quill of a Porcupine, the spot offers the finest views of the surrounding hills, forest and Mumbai, especially at sunset. The point is located around 4 kms. from the main market.. 'Prabalgad Fort' can also be seen from this point.
Heart Point - The heart shaped point offers a spectacular view of Mumbai at night and a view of the Matheran bound toy train coming up the hill.
One Tree Hill - One of the best points of Matheran.
Click here for the Matheran Map