Matheran is a hill station situated in the Raigad District of Maharashtra. Matheran, which has the designation of being the smallest hill station in India, is situated in the Western Ghats at an average altitude of 800 m above sea level.
The quaint town of Matheran was brought to the limelight during the colonial rule of the British. Matheran was discovered, in the year 1850 by Hugh Poyntz Malet, the District Collector of Thane. The place was developed by Lord Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay, as a summer resort for the British. Lord Elphinstone introduced roadways as well as the Mountain Railways ( 1907 ) to Matheran.
The name Matheran ( which means ‘forest on top’ ) refers to the surrounding dense evergreen Jambol forests. Matheran is known for its biodiversity as the place consists of rare species of flora and fauna. Matheran is also famous for its 33 lookout points, which provides panoramic view of the peaks of Western Ghats as well as its village – dotted plains.
Matheran is one among the eco – sensitive Regions in the world, where motored vehicles are not allowed. The core eco – sensitive zone of Matheran covers an area of 251.56 sq km. The town of Matheran and its environs, which are spread along 200 m of land, constitute the buffer zone.
Matheran is situated on a plateau towards the western part of the Western Ghats. The plateau of Matheran, surrounded by the vast extensions of the ranges of Western Ghats, lies as an outlier to the main range of Western Ghats.
Cooler but pleasant and less humid climate prevails all through the year in Matheran. The best time to visit Matheran is during the months of September to June, while it is very pleasant, cool and favourable for sightseeing.
Matheran tourism offers sightseeing attractions such as Porcupine Point, Panorama Point, Echo Point, Charlott Lake, King George Point, Louisa Point, Paymaster Park, Panthers’ Caves, Hart Point, etc. Matheran also offer activities such as trekking, hiking, climbing, etc. The vicinity of Mumbai and Pune makes Matheran a popular weekend destination of nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Matheran has its nearest airport at Mumbai, Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport which is around 46 km away from Matheran city. Mumbai is well connected to other major airports in India and abroad. The next nearest airport to Matheran is at Lohegao in Pune which is about 84 km.
Matheran is situated at a distance of 90 km and 120 km respectively from Mumbai and Pune. Matheran can be accessed by rail from the close by town of Neral, by a narrow gauge railway, which is operational since 1907. The train from Neral to Matheran provides a scenic view of Matheran, as it runs through hill sides, plains, cliffs, plateau and the Jambol forests, covering a distance of 21 km in a slow pace. Tourists to Matheran can also drive up to Dasturi Point ( 11 km away ) and reach Matheran by foot or on pony.
Tourist Places in Matheran
Echo Point is one of the spots in the hill station that offers a beautiful view of the surroundings. As its name suggest, Echo Point is well known for hearing echoes from the hills.
Charlotte Lake is a popular picnic spot, which is also referred as Sharlott Lake. The water body is the primary source of drinking water in the Matheran town and adjacent region. An ancient Pisarnath Temple to the right of the lake is also an attraction.
Besides, two beautiful picnic spots, Louisa Point and Echo Point are placed close to the water body. These sites with beautiful sceneries and greeneries are frequented by tourists. Moreover, the site provides shelter to contrasting species of birds.
Alexander Point is one of the popular locations in the town, which offers beautiful views of Palasdari Lake, Rambaug Point, Garbut Point, Chowk Point and downhill village of Borgaon. This site is located on the side of Madhavji road on the backdrop of green forests.
From the site, one can view far-off places such as towers of Bhivpuri Power house. Moreover, the site is popular among peace seekers.
Hart Point is one of the popular locations, which provides beautiful view of low lying plains and quite villages. The site on the north-western edge of Matheran hill station offers spectacular view of the widespread mountain ranges of Western Ghats.
Located in the midst of dense green woods, the site is cool, calm and serene. Owing to peaceful ambiance, the site is visited by nature lovers and peace seekers.
Louisa Point is one of the major sightseeing attractions of the destination, which provides views of beautiful surroundings. Located on a plateau, this point offer beautiful views of ancient monuments, which include forts of Vishalgad and Prabal. The point is frequented by nature lovers to sight sunset.
Along with this point, there is another popular site known as Lion’s head. Shape of the point resembles to that of the head of lion. From the point, tourists can sight beautiful waterfalls and lake gardens.
One Tree Hill Point
One Tree Point or One Tree Hill is a popular site among tourists, which is a distinct spot with a single Jambhul tree situated at the top. Hiking through Shivaji’s ladder and climbing down from the hill to valley is an exciting experience. As per historians, the path was discovered by a British collector of Thane district, Hugh Poyntz Malet.
This cool and calm site is visited by tourists in large numbers for relaxation. From the One Tree Hill Point, Tent hill and Chowk village can be spotted.
Panorama Point is a noteworthy sightseeing attraction, which is popular for offering a beautiful sight of sunrise. The point is an ideal picnic spot from where travellers can sight Chanderi, Navara-Navari, Peb Fort and Mhas-Mal. Hillocks featuring Hart Point, Porcupine Point and Monkey Point are also visible from the spot.
Prabal Fort, however in ruins, is among the most ancient monuments of the region. The fort was perched on Prabal Hills on the western side of Matheran. This historical fort was captured by the Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji from Mughals. As per historians, there was treasure at the fort during the time of capture.
Along with two gateways and eleven towers in the fortification, there is a pond on top of Prabal hills. The gateways were partly destroyed in the uncongenial fights of 1818. Presently, walls of four towers stand as a testimony of the days of yore.
Rambagh Point is among the popular tourist attractions, which offers an opportunity to view beauty of the hills. One of the most famous picnic spots in the region, the point is adorned with pleasing and pleasant environment. Sighting sunset from the point is one of the popular activities.
Besides sunset, sight of Karjat Town, from Garbut Point and Khandala is enjoyed. Owing to peaceful atmosphere under the dense cover of groves, the location is visited by solitude seekers.
Shivaji’s Ladder is among the chief attractions of the destination, which is a pavement featuring steps like a ladder. The pavement from One Tree Hill Point to the Matheran valley is known as Shivaji’s Ladder. As per historians, the great Maratha Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji often used this pathway for his pleasure trips and hunting options in the Matheran hills.
This historical pathway was rediscovered in 1850 by Hugh Mallet. The path surrounded by lush green woods with pleasing breeze flowing is used by regional tribes for their day to day travels into the forests. One of the popular trekking trails, the site provides trekking experience to adventure enthusiasts.
Pisharnath Temple is one of the holiest shrines of the region, which is situated on the embankment of beautiful Charlotte Lake. The worship centre is surrounded by lush greenery providing peaceful atmosphere for devotees to meditate and offer prayers.
As per the folklore, homage at the temple brings good fortune. Green lawns around the shrine draws many tourists offering a relaxing place. After seeking blessings of the deity, beautiful view of the lake in enjoyed.
Morbe Dam is among the major attractions located in close proximity to Matheran. Established in 2006, the reservoir stands at a height of 194 ft above sea level. The dam is built across Dharavi River and is spread over a surface area of around 9,780 sq km.
The construction of the dam was started by Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran in 1999, for managing water supplies in the area. Over the years, the spot has emerged as a prominent picnic spots among tourists.
Ambarnath Temple is among the revered shrines of the region, which is located on Mumbai – Pune railway line at Akoli. The ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is believed to have been constructed during 1060. Known for its resemblance with Dilwara Temples of Mount Abu, the architectural designs carved on the shrine grab attention of tourists.
The shrine of Ambarnath is believed to have been built by King Mahamandaleshwar as a tribute to his predecessor. On the auspicious occasion of Shivratri, a fair is hosted at the shrine celebrated with great fervour.
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