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Matheran Tourism And Travel Guide
24° C / 75.2° F
October to May
1 to 2 Days
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (90 kms)
Neral Railway Station (21 kms)
Matheran is a small hill station in the state of Maharashtra. The mighty Western Ghats or Sahyadri mountain ranges are what make Matheran, the smallest yet one of the most appealing of the hill stations of India. Ideally created as a summer resort in 1851 by the British who found the gentle seasons of the peaks far more soothing than the tropics of the plains, Matheran has always been considered one of the best getaways for a hot summer holiday.
Matheran’s Toy Train is one among the historic Mountain Railways of the country and travelling on the toy train that was founded in 1907 by Abdul Hussein Peerboy, a Mumbai based entrepreneur, is one of the hill town’s sought after things to do. Matheran is a peaceful, quiet hill town where not even the tinkle of a bicycle bell would break your reverie, for the township debars motor vehicles of any sort from running round the roads.
Matheran's tourism is renowned for its salubrious climate, its view points and trekking trails. If you would love to spend your holidays in Matheran, our travel guide should help you plan a great trip.
How to Reach
Matheran is a significant touristy place and has an easy and direct access by road and a toy rail. The most ideal way of access would be a journey by road from Mumbai. In Matheran, motor vehicles are not allowed beyond Dasturi Point, so from that point you could either trek up the hill or hail a hand pulled rickshaw or get a pony ride.
The nearest airport is the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at Mumbai that caters to domestic flights from most cities across the country and international flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and Kuala Lampur etc. From the airport you might hire a cab to Matheran.
The nearest major rail head is Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai. Get to Mumbai by train and hire a cab to Matheran. The closest rail station is Neral and you could also arrive at Neral by train and get a cab to Matheran. Or ride the toy train!
You can drive to Matheran from nearest cities like Mumbai or Pune. Or hop onto a private or state run bus from Panvel or Pune.
Matheran Toy Train chugs off from Neral and winds up the hill for about 20 km to reach Matheran. The slow train halts at Jummapatti, Waterpipe and Aman Lodge before it reaches Matheran. If you want to skip the train you could also check for the shared jeep that might run from Neral to Dasturi Point. Within Matheran it’s either a hike by foot wherever you go or get a pony or rickshaw to ride on.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Matheran’s seasons are usually ideal throughout the year, but the best time for sightseeing and trekking would be from October to May.
Summer (March – June):
Summers are warm and summery and not as hot as they are in the plains. It is a good time for trekking and visiting the view points. Summer is the second best tourist time in Matheran.
Monsoon (July – September):
Monsoon is a beautiful season in Matheran, with the waterfalls and Charlotte Lake turning spectacular, but trekking becomes a bother due to slippery rocks and muddy footpaths. You can visit Matheran if you love the rains.
Winter (October – February):
The season turns the mountain peaks misty and picturesque. The days are cool and breezy and it’s a lovely feel to stroll up the peaks to watch the sights or go exploring into the ruins of ancient hill top fortresses. The landscape turns green, sprayed with a multitude of wildflowers. Winter’s the best time to be in Matheran.
Things to Do
Memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji:
If you trek up Echo Point, do visit the Memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The Memorial pays tribute to the Maratha warrior king with murals, models of arms and weapons used during the time of Chhatrapati Shivaji as well as a historical timeline of his life.
There are small uninhabited caves in the hillsides that are what is believed to have been the home of tigers and panthers long ago, when Matheran was a desolate wild mountainside. Take a break to explore the caves, one of which has a small shrine.
At the Lakeside:
Pack a picnic hamper and get off on a picnic trip to Charlotte Lake side. Visit Pisarnath Shiva temple and Holy Cross Church located near the lake. Keep your camera handy, for Charlotte Lake is one of the best birding sites of Matheran.
Some time for the Birds:
You don’t have to wait for winter to watch Matheran’s birds. Take a walk to Louisa Point or Porcupine point to listen to the cuckoo, larks and bulbul. One of the best things you can do in Matheran is sit on the dewy grass on the points (well away from the sheer drop, of course) and listen to the birds sing.
Karnala Fort and Sanctuary:
The 12th century Fort of Karnala, occupied by the Portuguese, Marathas, Mughal dynasty and the British is an interesting place of travel for history buffs and people in search of adventure and nature. Visit the Karnala Bird Sanctuary and trek to the Karnala Fort.
A peaceful walk along the unhewn paths of the mountain slopes fringed by bushes of wild flowers is bound to keep you peacefully happy. If not, then charge forward and get into the spirit of zapping across the waters or clambering up the cliffs. The gigantic gentle slopes of Matheran make for great adventure tourism.
Points with a View:
Matheran has umpteen number of view points that give a spectacular sight of the marvellous nature that abounds in the region. Check out the Panorama Point for its sunrise, Porcupine Point for its sunset, Louisa Point for its view of the forts and last but not the least Mt. Barry the highest of them all for a magnificent bird’s eye view of Matheran.
Check out Shivaji’s Ladder, a path up the hill towards One Tree Hill that has the semblance of a ladder. Legends say that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj used to climb up the ladder when he went hunting. The pathway lies on a trekking trail and though lying on a difficult terrain, Shivaji’s Ladder is popular as tourists and trekkers love to hike up the hill just to see the legendary ladder.
Plan a cool getaway to the touristy towns and hill stations near Matheran. Dressed with all fineries of luxuriant nature, hill stations like Lonavala, Khandala and towns like Karjat that lie close by are much sought after tourist destinations.
Matheran and the surrounding peaks have some of the most beautiful trekking trails. Ranging from easy to the hard intimidating trails like the steep pinnacles of Kalavantin Durg, Matheran has them all.
Trip to the Dams:
Visit Morbe Dam near Matheran, for a tranquil tryst with nature. The landscape abounds with mountain peaks and lush grassy plains and is worth a picture. Check out the tiny temples for Vittal and Mata Chandika Devi on the banks of the River.
Matheran’s cuisine is an exotic blend of customary Maharashtrian food, with delicious combinations of the Mughlai, Konkani and Gujarathi thalis as well as Chinese fare. Check out the varieties of Pav Bhajis, Chiwda and Vada Pav that you would get in any restaurant as well as in street corners. Bharli Vangi with Bhakri or flat bread, solkadhi with kokum and coconut milk are some of Matheran’s traditional fare.
There are places where you could get to eat Malvani food of the south Konkan regions of Goa and Maharashtra, a beautiful blend of seafood and chicken with generous portions of coconut and kokum. Finish off your food with chikkies, shrikand or puran polis.
Matheran is a small hill town and you wouldn’t find a whole lot of exciting stuff to buy. But there are some things you can purchase to remember your visit. You ought to buy little stuff like sugar candied coconut, badam and cashew chikkis and wild honey from Matheran’s own forests.
Other popular things are goods made of leather, like shoes, belts and pouches and cane handicrafts and furniture that are made by the tribals, the local craftsmen and artisans and sold in the local markets. You could also buy from a wide variety of footwear including Kolhapuri chappals as well as dried wildflowers that are used for cooking, potpourri and for decorations.