19/05/2024

Matheran is a scenic hill station in Maharashtra’s Raigad district, at an elevation of 803 meters (2,638 feet) above sea level. Matheran is one of the few hill stations in India that is still vehicle-free, making it a popular destination for nature lovers India, is a hidden gem that offers a unique and enchanting experience to travelers seeking respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

This eco-sensitive hill station is known for its lush greenery, serene atmosphere, and its status as the only automobile-free hill station in Asia, making it a fantastic escape for those looking for a reset in the lap of nature and its quiet. In this article, we will delve into the history, geography, attractions, local laws, accommodation options, travel tips, and the best time to visit this delightful hill station.

matheran hill side view

History:  

Hugh Poyntz Malet, the Raigad district’s then district collector, made the discovery of Matheran in May 1850. Lord Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay at the time laid the foundation stone of the development work  for the hill station . To escape the summer heat in Mumbai , it was the perfect retreat for the British. Veer Bhai Kotwal, a liberation fighter, was also born there. Matheran quickly became a popular destination for the British, who built many bungalows and summer homes there.

Its name is derived from the Marathi words “mathe” (forehead) and “ran” (forest), which aptly describe the town’s location atop the Sahyadri mountain range, surrounded by dense forests.

matheran hill and sign post

Matheran Toy Train

The 20 km (12 mi) long Matheran Hill Railway was constructed in 1907 by Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy across forested terrain. UNESCO inspectors visited the railway, however it was not added to the list of World Heritage Sites. The Darjeeling Railway, the Kangra Valley Railway, and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway are among the numerous hill railways in India that are already UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Geography:

 Matheran is situated at an elevation of approximately 2,625 feet (800 meters) above sea level, covering an area of approximately 7 square kilometers. It is part of the Raigad district in the state of Maharashtra located in Western Ghats at a height of 800 meters (2600 ft ) above sea level. and is nestled amidst lush green hills and dense forests. The town’s unique topography offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including the Western Ghats and the verdant valleys below. As of the 2001 census, it had a population of 5,139 residents, with a density of 730 people per square kilometer. Marathi is the official language spoken in Matheran. The area is identified by the PIN code 410102 and uses the telephone code 02148. Vehicle registration plates in Matheran bear the code MH-46, and the nearest city is Karjat. For more information, you can visit the official website at http://www.matheran.net.in/en/.

matheran trekking route

Leopard sightings

In the previous ten years, there have been a few reports of leopard sightings in Matheran. However, Matheran is not known for harbouring leopards. They may be living in the lowlands surrounding Matheran’s dense forests. However, because to their declining number in India, sightings of them are now quite uncommon. There have been no leopard assaults in Matheran that have been documented.

Main Attractions:

  1. Panorama Point: This viewpoint offers breathtaking vistas of the Sahyadri range and is a popular spot for watching mesmerizing sunsets.
  2. Charlotte Lake: A serene and picturesque spot for nature lovers, where you can enjoy a peaceful boat ride.
  3. Echo Point: True to its name, this spot allows visitors to hear echoes of their voices amidst the tranquil surroundings.
  4. Louisa Point: Another excellent viewpoint offering panoramic views of the surrounding hills, valleys, and waterfalls during the monsoon season.
  5. One Tree Hill Point: A unique vantage point offering uninterrupted views of the Western Ghats and the plains below.
  6. Porcupine Point (Sunset Point): This spot is famous for providing spectacular views of the sunset, especially during the monsoon season.
  1. Matheran Toy Train: The Matheran Toy Train is a narrow-gauge railway line that connects Matheran to the town of Neral below. The train ride is a scenic experience, offering stunning views of the surrounding valleys and hills.
  2. Prabalgad Fort: Prabalgad Fortis a 17th-century fort located near Matheran. It is a popular trekking destination, offering stunning views of the surrounding hills and coastline.
  3. Irshalgad Fort: Irshalgad Fort is another 17th-century fort located near Matheran. It is a popular trekking destination, offering stunning views of the surrounding hills and coastline.

Local Laws and Regulations:

Matheran is known for its strict environmental policies. To preserve its natural beauty, the use of automobiles within the town is prohibited. Visitors can reach Matheran by walking, horseback riding, or using hand-pulled rickshaws. Littering and smoking are also strictly prohibited, and visitors are encouraged to maintain the pristine environment.

Places to Stay:

 Matheran offers a variety of accommodation options, including hotels, resorts, and guesthouses. Some popular choices include the Matheran Hill Station Hotel, Horseland Hotel and Mountain Spa, and the Usha Ascot Hotel. It’s best to plan ahead of time, especially during high tourist season.

Places to Travel:

 In addition to the aforementioned attractions, Matheran also boasts several trekking trails, including the Garbett Plateau and the Vikatgad Peb Fort. These treks provide an opportunity to explore the region’s diverse flora and fauna. The toy train, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another must-experience attraction that offers a scenic ride through the forested hills.

Things to Do:

  1. Nature Walks: Explore the pristine beauty of Matheran on foot. The town has numerous walking trails that allow you to soak in the natural surroundings.
  2. Adventure Activities: Enjoy activities like trekking, horseback riding, and valley crossing for an adrenaline rush.
  3. Shopping: Visit the local markets for souvenirs, including leather goods, Kolhapuri chappals, and traditional handicrafts.
  4. Photography: Capture the stunning landscapes, lush greenery, and the unique charm of Matheran through your lens.

Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit Matheran is from October to May when the weather is pleasant. Monsoon season (June to September) is also a beautiful time to experience the lush greenery and waterfalls, but it can be slippery and some trails may be closed due to safety concerns.

Matheran has a tropical climate. Summer precipitation in Matheran exceeds that of winter precipitation. According to the Köppen-Geiger climate classification, this climate is classified as Aw. According to published statistics, the average yearly temperature in Matheran is 25.9 °C | 78.6 °F. Every year, approximately 1750 mm | 68.9 inch of rain falls.
Matheran is located in the centre of our globe, and the summers are difficult to describe. The months of January, February, March, April, October, November, and December are ideal for planning a visit.

matheran hill station mornings

How to Reach Matheran:

Matheran is easily accessible from Mumbai and Pune:

  • By Train: The nearest railhead is Neral, which is well-connected to Mumbai and Pune. From Neral, you can take the historic Matheran Hill Railway, a toy train that takes you up the hill.
  • By Road: You can drive to Dasturi Naka, which is the entry point for vehicles, and from there, it’s a short walk or horseback ride to Matheran town.

In conclusion, Matheran is a tranquil paradise that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, history, and eco-consciousness. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or simply looking for a serene escape, Matheran has something to offer every traveler, making it a must-visit destination in the Western Ghats of India.