Matheran: Smallest, peaceful & vehicle-free hill station

Matheran456Your toy train chugs along slowly without a care in the world. During the two hour as cent, food vendors and monkeys jump on and off as the valley glides by edately.
Sprawling languidly at an altitude of 800 meters is Matheran – an undulating hilltop cloaked in green. It is situated in Karjat Tahsil, Raigad District of Maharashtra, India.
The cliffs of Matheran with incredibly steep drops to the plains below offer stunning viewing points. These panoramic vistas, by day and night, leave you feeling light headed. Standing at Hart Point in pitch darkness you get a breathtaking glimpse of the lights of busy Bombay. Matheran abounds in such quixotically named points. popular sites for picnics and fireside revelry.
The old world charm of the British and Parsi homes captivates you all the way up to the Charlotte Lake. On each trip through the main bazaar you purchase some of its attractions – care and leather articles, hats, chappals and the irresistible chikki loved by young and old alike.
Temperatures vary from 16° C in winter to 32° C in summer with an annual rainfall of 524 cms. It is a place to visit round the year, monsoons included, for the young at heart.
Matheran is the smallest hill station of India. The name Matheran means either ‘Forest on Top’ or ‘Woodland overhead’. It is located around 90 km from Mumbai, 120 km from Pune and 320 km from Surat.
Matheran is an eco-sensitive region, declared by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India. It is one of the few places in the world where vehicles are not allowed. It takes you over a hundred years back in time when there were no vehicles. Because of ban on vehicles, Matheran is quite peaceful despite the thousands of lakhs coming to visit throughout the year.
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.
There are around 38 designated look-out points in Matheran, including the Panorma 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 history
Matheran was discovered by Englishman Huge Mallet, the then Collector of Thane, in 1850. Lord Elphinstone, the then Governor of Bombay, laid the foundations of its development as a future hill station.
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 (5.8 miles) 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 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.
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.

How to Reach
By Air: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport of Mumbai located about 90 kilometers away from Matheran is the nearest air terminus from this hill station.
By Rail: Matheran is acclaimed for its ‘Matheran Hill Railway’ or the ‘Matheran Toy Train’; one of the four toy trains in the country. This train runs between Matheran and Neral through the verdant woods of the Western Ghats covering the total distance of 20 kilometers.
By Road: Matheran is located 90 kilometers away from Mumbai and 120 kilometers away from Pune.

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