Matheran is a Hill Station and a municipal council in the Raigad district in the Indianstate of Maharashtra. It is a hill station in Karjat Tahsil and is also the smallest hill station in India. It is located on the Western Ghats range at an elevation of around 800 m (2,625 feet) above sea level. It is located around 90 km from Mumbai, and 120 km from Pune. Matheran’s proximity to many metropolitan cities makes it a popular weekend getaway for urban residents. Matheran, which means “forest on the forehead” (of the mountains) is an eco-sensitive region, declared by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India. It is Asia’s only automobile-free hill station.
There are around 38 designated look-out points in Matheran, including the Panorama 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 was discovered by Hugh Poyntz Malet, the then district collector of Thanedistrict in May 1850. Lord Elphinstone, the then Governor of Bombay laid the foundations of the development as a future hill station. The British developed Matheran as a popular resort to beat the summer heat in the region. The Matheran Hill Railwaywas built in 1907 by Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy and covers a distance of 20 km (12 mi), over large swathes of forest territory.
The old Matheran Hill Railway offers several daily trains to Neral – this takes some hours for just a 8 km distance but is a railway adventure. The toy train connected to the mainline rail route at Neral Junction. Neral Junction is well connected by local trains from CST along the CST-Karjat route. The train covers a maximum of 12 miles in an hour thereby allowing the passengers ample time to soak in the beauty of the surroundings.