At a little over 800 meters, Matheran is not really in the running for the highest hill stations in Maharashtra, leave alone the rest of India. However, this tiny little town about 90 kms from Mumbai holds a very special place in the hearts of anyone who has visited there.
For this is the only hill station in Asia that does not allow any motorized transport, barring the ambulance run by the local municipality, on its streets. This is how nature intended a hill station to be. To get here you either take the toy train from Neral, a 11 kilometer journey through some verdant forests. Or you drive up to Dasturi point and then take a horse or trek up the approximately 2.5 kilometers to the town center.
As befitting a town of this nature the road is not tarred so it is pretty much like a jungle trek on a slightly broader path. The route up to the town is through the forests and you are already getting into the slower and easier pace by the time you reach there. Being a popular weekend getaway, there is no shortage of hotels and resorts in and around Matheran.
Coming here is about kicking back from urban living and enjoying nature without the cacophony and rush of modern transportation. The town is surrounded by a dense forest and has a couple of lakes and view points that provide breathtaking views of the surrounding valley, the Ulhas river, magnificent sunrises and sunsets. Some of these places are at quite a distance from the town so if you are not up to walking, horse riding or hand pulled rickshaws are your only options.
The best time to visit Matheran is during and after the monsoons…which means right now and going on to about November. The rains transform the hills into many vibrant hues of green and you will encounter some spectacular waterfalls during your drive to Neral and beyond as you begin your journey to Matheran itself. Click on the image to see more travel pictures from Natalie.