Exotic hilltop views, picturesque surroundings, unpolluted atmosphere and proximity to a busy city like Mumbai are what make Matheran a most sought after weekend getaway destination.
Located around 100 kilometers from Mumbai, Matheran is a hill station that was developed by the British as a popular resort to beat the summer heat.
What makes Matheran so unique is the fact that no vehicles are allowed into the town. This ban has helped preserve Matheran's natural beauty and maintain a pollution-free atmosphere.
Places to visit
Matheran has many popular viewpoints (also referred to as lookout points) that offer breathtaking views of the plains below. You will find many sites suitable for picnics and campfires. Here are a few places you could visit while at Matheran:
- The Panorama Point offers a fine view of Neral that lies just below the hills. From this point you can also see Mumbai situated on the west and the Western Ghats on the north. Also the entire range of Sahyadri is visible from here. The sunrise and the sunset views from this point are something you would not want to miss.
- From the King George Point you can have beautiful views of the waterfall formed by the overflowing Charlotte Lake. Visitors can go as close as the mouth of the waterfall. The Charlotte Lake is the only source of water for Matheran.
- The Porcupine Point is also famous for sunset views.
- A short walk from the Malang Point is the 'Hashya Cha Patti' village where you could visit a small Hanuman temple.
- The Louisa Point has a beautiful plateau and the ruins of the Prabal Fort.
- Apart from offering excellent view of the hills, the Echo Point also allows you to experience echoes of your own voice.
- Mount Barry is one of the highest spots in Matheran and the Governor's Hill (another viewpoint) is located between the Panorama Point and Mount Barry.
- Check out the Hart Point that offers an exotic view of Mumbai at night. The lights of Mumbai are visible from this point and offer a truly unforgettable experience.
- Many homes in Matheran reflect the British and Parsi architecture in their construction and are a tourists delight.
- The Rambagh Point offers unparalled views of Khandal and Karjat.
- One Tree Point, Chowk Point, Shivaji's Ladder, Alexander Point, etc. are also worth visiting.
Whichever mode of transport you decide to take, you have to reach Neral to visit Matheran. Neral is well connected to Mumbai by rail and road. The nearest airport is located in Mumbai. Once you reach Neral you can either trek up the hill to Matheran or take the toy train. The other option is to drive to Dasturi Naka and take the train from here, walk up the hill, hire a hand pulled rickshaw or try a horseback ride. This is the final destination for all motor vehicles.
Matheran is very popular for its leather products. Your shopping list could include leather bags and belts, Kolhapuri footwear, hats, etc. The most sought after item is, of course, chikki - a candy made of gram flour, jaggery and cashew nuts.
Where to stay
The availability of a wide range of accommodation facilities including hotels and resorts make your stay at Matheran a memorable one.
When to visit
The best time to visit Matheran is between October and May as most of the hotels close during the monsoons. It is also very difficult to walk up the trail to Matheran during the rainy season.