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Matheran is a Hill Station and a municipal council in the Raigad district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is a hill station in Karjat Tahsil and is also the smallest hill station in India. It is located on the Western Ghats range at an elevation of around 800 m (2,625 feet) above sea level. It is located around 90 km from Mumbai, and 120 km from Pune. Matheran's proximity to many metropolitan cities makes it a popular weekend getaway for urban residents. The name Matheran means "forest on the forehead" (of the mountains).
Matheran is an eco-sensitive region, declared by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India. It is Asia's only automobile-free hill station.
Because of vehicles being banned in Matheran, the place is quite peaceful despite the thousands of visitors coming to visit throughout the year.
There are lots of lookout points that provide spectacular views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Matheran has a reasonably dense forest cover.
There are around 38 designated look-out points in Matheran, including the Panorama Point that provides a 360 degree view of the surrounding area and also the Neral town. From this point, the view of sunset and sunrise is breathtaking. The Louisa Point offers crystal clear view of the Prabal Fort. The other points are the One Tree Hill Point, Hart Point, Monkey Point, Porcupine Point, Rambagh Point, and more.
Matheran was discovered by Hugh Poyntz Malet, the then district collector of Thane district in May 1850. Lord Elphinstone, the then Governor of Bombay laid the foundations of the development as a future hill station. The British developed Matheran as a popular resort to beat the summer heat in the region.
Matheran is connected to the town of Neral which lies at the base of the hills. A tar road connects Neral to Dasturi Naka which is 9 km (5.6 mi) from Matheran. In order to maintain Matheran's uniqueness, no vehicles are allowed beyond this point. The other mode of transport is a 2 ft (610 mm) gauge narrow gauge railway, which links the town to Neral. Neral also has a broad gauge station which is on the busy Mumbai-Pune route. Neral is well connected by railway line with Karjat being the nearest Junction. The Matheran Hill Railway was built in 1907 by Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy and covers a distance of 20 km (12 mi), over large swathes of forest territory. The Matheran hill railway, also known as Matheran Light Railway (MLR), was inspected by UNESCO world heritage site officials in the last week of October 2009. But, when the results were officially announced by UNESCO in August 2010, the Matheran Light Railway failed to make it to the list as a World Heritage Site. While, India's other Hill Railways like the Darjeeling Railway, the Kangra Valley Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway are already on the list.
In the floods of July 2005, around 70% of the railway lines were damaged and did not reopen until April 2007 after repairs at a cost of Rs 2-2.5 crore.
Matheran has been declared an ecosensitive region by the Union Environment Ministry and can be called a Health Sanatorium in itself. The only form of automobile allowed in Matheran is an ambulance operated by the Municipality. No private automobiles are allowed. Within Matheran transport facilities available are horses and hand-pulled rickshaws.
Matheran has been listed by the Union Environment Ministry as an eco-sensitive region and is connected to the closest town of Neral by a narrow gauge railway, operating since 1907. As no vehicles are allowed in Matheran, one has to drive up to Dasturi Point, 11 km ahead of Matheran, from where you could reach the main bazaar either by foot or on pony.
Matheran lies in an elevated region, enjoys a cooler and less humid climate which makes it popular during the summer months. Temperatures range from 32 ¡ÆC (90 ¡ÆF) to 16 ¡ÆC (61 ¡ÆF). Matheran has a huge number of medicinal plants and herbs. The town also has a large monkey population, including Bonnet Macaques and Hanuman Langurs. The nearby Lake Charlotte is the main source of Matheran's drinking water.
Languages spoken include Marathi, Hindi, and English. There are a lot of Parsi bungalows. Beautiful old British-style architecture is preserved in Matheran. The roads are not metalled and are made of red laterite earth. There are many "points" (viewpoints) in Matheran which give a panoramic view of the plains below. On clear nights, the lights of Mumbai are claimed to be visible.
Hotels are available in Matheran.
Matheran Points :
Louisa point, Panorama point, Monkey point, Porcupine point, Echo point, One tree hill point, Alexander point, Little Chowk Point, Rambagh point, Honeymoon hill, Hart point
How to reach Matheran :
Matheran is located about 100 km from Mumbai & 120 km from Pune. It lies on the busy Mumbai-Pune rail link and the nearest train station is at Neral, approximately 11 km from Matheran. From Neral, one can either rent a taxi or cab.
Mumbai is nearest airport.
By Rail :
Matheran is connected by toy train to the mainline rail route at Neral Junction. Neral Junction is well connected by local trains from CST along the CST-Karjat route.
By Road :
Matheran is popular amongst trekkers. Dasturi gate (Mathern car park) is approximately 8 km from Neral junction and beautiful landscapes can be seen from Neral. Streams flow through the farms. One can follow the road.
Places to visit in Matheran :
Mount Berry , Charlotte Lake , Lookout Points , Valley crossing
Map : Matheran