Friday, April 10, 2009

Matheran – An adventurous week end trip from Mumbai

Matheran is the hill station of Maharashtra on Western Ghat mountain and is near Mumbai. It is at an altitude of 803 meter high and only 108 km from Mumbai, 126 km from Pune. The literal meaning of Matheran is top of the forest. The connecting Railway station of Matheran is at Neral is 21 km on Mumbai-Pune railway route. Express trains do not stop at Matheran. From Mumbai CST, Decan leaves at 6-40 Hrs, Koina Express at 8-50 Hr , Mumbai-Karjat EMU local and numerous Pune/Lonavala bound trains run via Nerul 87 km from Mumbai in 2 hours. ST buses are also going from Mumbai CST to Neral. From Neral the Central Railway trains at 7-30,9-00,10-45,12-10,17-00 Hrs are running on narrow-gauge line built along the hill in 1907 to Matheran.

Dense forests and habitat of wild animals made this place very exciting and adventurous. There are 281 curves throughout the route and all these curves pose with different exquisiteness. The World's sharpest curve is here on this route. On one side there is Western Ghat and on the other side there are valleys with strawberry plantation. During monsoon the train services remain closed on this

Type rest of the post hereroute. Mini buses and taxis are also going along Ghat Road built in 1855 from Neral to Matheran in half hour. Share taxis are also available. However, ignore the rumors spread by the taxi drivers regarding travelling by train. Railway passengers should occupy seats maintaining the equilibrium of both sides. Taxis and mini buses terminate at city centre or 2 km ahead of Railway station at Dasturi Naka in Matheran. Petrol and Diesel fuelled vehicles are not allowed to enter inside the city. One may also trek about 11.3 km from Neral and arrive at Matheran. The toll tax at Matheran is INR 20 for adult and INR 10 for the students and children.

Weather at Matheran:
The average temperature in winter remains at 15 degree C while that in summer it is 30 degree C. The rainfall during the year is 5242 mm. Tourism season is from October to May.

Places to see at Matheran

Matheran was a favourite destination of the British. In Marathi language Matheran means Mother Forest. The place was discovered in 1850 by the then British Collector Hugh Poyntz Malet of Thane. At the southern fringe of the city, One Tree Hill of rose apple reminds the past. With the rail station at the centre, Matheran is a small neat and clean hill station sprawling along north to south. Three roads emerge from market adjoining Railway station and are connected with each other penetrating the forest. The climate is healthy. The city extends from Panorama Point on the right of Railway station to the One Tree Point on the left. The entire city seems to have a sylvan atmosphere as it is shaded by trees. There are also plenty of medicinal herbs grown here. Hand pulled rickshaws and horses are available for the tour of the city having an area of 7.35 sq km. There are arrangements to get a beautiful view of the city and its surroundings from Panorama, Park Yew, Manki, Khandala, Luisa. Alexander, King Edward (VII) Coronation Point to name few. In fact the illumination of Mumbai city can also be seen in the darkness of night from Matheran's N-Western Porcupine or Luisa viewpoint. The view of sunset from Porcupine is also amazing. However, the attraction of Panorama, 5 km to the north is exceptional. Neral can also be seen from Porcupine or Luisa on the west, i.e. Cathedral Rocks. There are temples, mosques and churches at Matheran. Two churches - one is Roman Catholic and the other is Anglician. The last resting place or Tower of Silence of the Parsis beyond Rambag race course and lake are also there in Matheran.

On top of the hill, in a wild environment is Sharlel lake. You have to cross the spring, the source of the lake to reach Eco point.

Tourist office is on M G Marg opposite railway station. Shops and Kapadia market are also located at M G Rd. One may collect honey, chikki, cane and leather items as the mementos of the tour. The red soil of Matheran will accompany you throughout while you will be travelling Matheran.

Accomodation at Matheran:

Interested tourists may rest for a night at Karja at the foot-hills of Matheran, 90 km from Mumbai. Good accommodation is available in Modi Resort, Ph:(022) 22161520, about 10 minutes travel by taxi from Railway station.

The hotels in Matheran are open from October to June. The season time is from 1st October to 15th January and then again from April 15th to June 15th. Rest of the years off-season. Shops, hotels, vehicular traffic in Matheran are closed during off-season. Check-out time is at 7-00 am, tariff includes food and lodging. In the weekends, tariffs of Matheran hotels increase heavily.

STD code of Matheran: 02148

#On the left of Railway station. at M G Marg-410102, Lordt Central Hotel Ph: 230228; Mumbai booking Ph: 22018008. APS 650-1250; Giri Vihar Hotel, AP-S 450-650; Hotel Rangoli. Ph: 230272

#Khan's Hotel, with equivalent tariff and standard,
#Hope Hall Hotel, Ph: 230253
#Laxmi Hotel.
#Tourist Towers
#Alankar Hotel
#RoyalHotel Ph: 230247
#Hotel Meghdnot
#Regal Hotel. Ph: 230243
#Premdip Lodge
#Janata Happy Home
#Bright Lands Resorts, Ph: 230244, Mumbai: Ph: 26423856
At Moulana Azad Road
#Gujrat Bhavan Hotel. Ph: 230278, Mumbai: Ph: 22030876
#Royal Hotel Matheran.

#At Madhabji Road - to the south of the city in a sylvan atmosphere Hotel Alexander, Ph: 230251
#At Pandey Road Shirin Hotel, Hotel Lake View, Silver Hotel, Matheran Darbar Lodge and Cosmopolitan Lodge

Opposite to Railway station on the right

#Usha Ascot, M G Rd, Ph: 230522
#Hotel Prasanna, M G Rd

On top of Railway station at V K Road

#Rugby Hotel, Ph: 230291

#Hotel Panorama, 178 Kasturba Rd, near Railway sin. Ph: 230254
#The Byke Ph: 230365.
#Maldoonga Resort Hotel, Mallet Rd, Ph: 230204
Some private houses of Matheran offer rooms at very affordable rate
Besides these, MTDCs Holiday Resort is 2 km from Railway station at Matheran, Dist Raigad, Ph: (02148) 230277.

Food in Matheran:

Food in Railway Canteen is reasonably good. Otherwise you can choose Alankar at M G Marg and Promod Restaurant, opposite to it. Both vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes are available here. Relax Inn opposite to Post Office is well renowned for vegetarian dishes. You should taste Chikki and Pastry, which are special of Matheran. Matheran is also renowned for honey and handicraft items.

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