Perched on Western Ghat mountain range in Maharashtra, the hill station boasts of dense green cover, unpolluted environs, pleasant climate and scenic locales. Matheran literally means ‘forest on the head’, a reference to the thick woods at the top of the hill.
Matheran retains the vintage charm of hill stations developed by the British. Absence of tarred roads, ponies transporting luggage and humans on horseback, all hark back to mid-eighteenth century when the town was discovered.
Matheran is a popular with adventure lovers as well. Rock climbing and paragliding are among the adventure sports which can be indulged in Matheran. The hill station is also the centre for trekking.
The toy train which connects Neral with Matheran is a popular tourist attraction. A trip to Matheran is not complete until one has taken a ride on the train. In addition to the spectacular sight the train ride offers, the sight of the toy train chugging along the mountain-side is a not-to-be-missed experience.
- Monkeys abound in Matheran. Though not a menace, monkeys can snatch belongings in the hope for food.
Matheran was discovered in 1850 by Thane collector Hugh Poyntz Malet. It was developed as a hill station by the British to beat the summer heat of Mumbai.
However, historical evidence suggests that Matheran has been a tactically important location since 1458. Various rulers have ruled Matheran and surrounding areas. Maratha King Shivaji took over the control of Matheran in 1658. However, not much is known about the period till 1850.
After its discovery, several British families and wealthy Parsis set up residences in the hill station. To facilitate transport from Mumbai to the hill station, narrow-guage rail lines were laid between Neral and Matheran in 1907.
- Matheran is the smallest hill station. It is just eight sq km.
- No cars are allowed in Matheran beyond Dasturi Point.
- Matheran has been declared an eco-sensitive region by Union Environment Ministry.
Where to stay
Matheran is a small hill station. Matheran has several lodges and guest houses that provide budget accommodation. A few mid-range hotels are also available. However, there are no luxury hotels in Matheran. Most of the lodges, guest houses and hotels in Matheran are situated near the railway station. MTDC also runs budget hotels in Matheran.
Where to eat
There are limited eating options in Matheran. Apart from a few street-side stalls, there are a few dhabas that serve limited variety of Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines. Most of the restaurants serve pure vegetarian food. However, some of the restaurants near the market area also serve non-vegetarian delicacies. Most of the restaurants attached with hotels serve multi-cuisine delicacies too.
Best time to visit
Matheran is an all weather destination. However, many tourists avoid going to Matheran during monsoon. The hill station receives heavy rainfall and toy train services are stopped during the period. Winters are cold and summers are pleasant. October to March is the best time to visit Matheran.