Matheran is a Hill Station and a municipal council in the Raigad district in the Indian state 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 dramatic. The Louisa Point offers crystal clear view of the Prabal Fort. The other points are the One Tree Hill Point, Heart Point, Monkey Point, Porcupine Point, Rambagh Point, and more. To stay there, there are plenty of hotels.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. There are many “points” (viewpoints) in Matheran which give a panoramic view of the plains below.
Matheran in 1911
Matheran was discovered by Hugh Poyntz Malet, the then district collector of Thane district 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. Matheran is birth place of famous freedom fighter Veer Bhai Kotwal. He was born on 1 December 1912 in a barber family. State Govt. has built a monument in his memory. The Matheran Hill Railway was built in 1907 by Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy and covers a distance of 20 km (12 mi), over large swathes of forest territory. The Matheran hill railway, also known as Matheran Light Railway (MLR), was inspected by UNESCO world heritage site officials but failed to make it to the list as a World Heritage Site. India’s other Hill Railways like the Darjeeling Railway, the Kangra Valley Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway are already on the list.
Forest and wildlife
Matheran has been declared an ecosensitive region by the Union Environment Ministry and can be called a Health Sanatorium in itself. A good collection of the dried plants is deposited in Blatter Herbarium, St. Xavier’s College, Bombay, Mumbai.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.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. Inside the forest animals likeLeopard, Barking deer, Malabar giant squirrel, Fox, wild boar, mongoose are found.