Weekend bliss, monkeys and nature trails: Matheran, Maharashtra
Located at an altitude of about 2,635 feet above sea-level is the tiny hill station of Matheran, which is arguably the most famous and also the most visited hill station in the state of Maharastra.
Matheran is a hill station that serves as a perfect get-a-way and stress buster for people living in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital.
There are multiple ways of getting in. The first option is to board a Central Railway train to Neral and then hop onto a narrow gauge toy train from Neral that runs all the way to Matheran. The view from the toy train is breathtaking. Post-monsoon the view from the train is even better with the plains being lush green all over and plenty of water-falls all along the way. There are daily five trains that depart from Neral and Matheran respectively. The toy train is generally not operational during the monsoon.
Form Neral there is also an option of taking a share-a-cab that goes all the way to Dasturi point. This is the last point at which vehicles are allowed. The walk from here to the entry point of Matheran takes about 20 to 30 minutes. The other options from Dasturi point are to take a 30 minute horseback or a man-pull rickshaw ride all along a muddy track.
Another option is to drive to Dasturi point and park your car there and take the shuttle mini bus from Neral or Karjat railway stations.
Yet another option is to hike to Mathern from Neral or Karjat. There are multiple hiking trails that ascend to Matheran. These trails have come into existence by locals walking up and down these paths on a regular basis. It takes about 2 hours to hike.
At the entrance of Matheran there is a small entry fee that has to be paid by everyone. This fee is collected to help maintain the fragile eco-system of this hill station.
There are three options of getting around Matheran. The first and best way is to walk around to all the sightseeing points. All the trails are well marked out with signboards. The other two options are either on a horseback or a man-pulled rickshaw.
Matheran has plenty of sightseeing points and all of them have their own charm. Some of the must visit points are Charlotte lake which has a beautiful waterfall that overflows from this lake during the monsoon. Echo point just as the name suggests has a very good echo effect.
One tree hill is a very unique hill which has only one big tree growing on it. The path to reach this hill is a bit tricky. Panorama point is quite far from the heart i.e. the station area, but this place does offer a splendid view of the hills on the left and the river Ulhas on the right. Matheran also has its own Sunset and Sunrise point which are generally very crowded.
Matheran also has its very own valley crossing which is 1000 feet high and from end to end is about 900 feet. Valley crossing is a must do activity for all adventure junkies.
Being a hill station, the town is full of monkeys who create a nuisance of themselves. It is strongly advised to not feed any monkeys or roam around with food in the open as it is very likely that a monkey will try to snatch it.
Accommodation in Matheran is slightly expensive since this place is a weekend getaway from Mumbai. Mid-week the prices are considerably lower. But during season time which is during the winter months of December – January and the summer months of April – May the tariff is hiked three to four times the off-season tariff.
Many of the hotels and guest houses have a package deal which includes all meals. Please note that Matheran hotels and guest houses do not accept single travelers since the hotel union claims that single travelers mainly visit this hill station to commit suicide.
Matheran has plenty of restaurants that serve all kinds of cuisines. The vada-pav in Matheran along with the Gujarati thali and Kokam juice are a must have. Non-vegetarian is also served in a few restaurants. Keep in mind that Matheran does not have a wine shop and alcohol is only available in a few restaurants and hotels.
Matheran is a plateau with a dense forest cover. Being a hill station Matheran has pleasant weather almost throughout the year. The best time to visit Matheran is post-monsoon i.e. from September to November. The region becomes a spectacle at this time of the year with lush greenery, waterfalls all around the place.
Matheran has plenty to offer for all kind of visitors and its close proximity from the city of Mumbai makes it an ideal place to visit over the weekend.
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