Tips for your First Trip to Matheran

Matheran is a charming hill station in Maharashtra, easy to reach from nearby cities like Mumbai and Pune. Established by the British as a summer retreat, it has since developed into a popular getaway destination. Travellers to Matheran discover that it is an eco-sensitive zone, the reason why vehicles are banned here. Matheran is the only strictly-pedestrian hill station in the country. If you are planning your first visit to Matheran, you are in for a treat. Book a hotel in Matheran and read up on what you can expect there. Coming up are some tips on how to reach and maximise your experience at Matheran.

  1. How to reach Matheran – Matheran is only 90 km away from Mumbai and 120 km off Pune. Trains are available. From Mumbai, board the Deccan Express to reach Neral. If you are travelling from Pune, the Sahyadri Express will take you to Neral. From Neral, take the toy-train to Matheran Station. It is a leisurely ride with the route winding through the Sahyadri Hills. Keep your camera handy to capture a few pictures of the beautiful waterfalls along the way. Should you decide to drive down to Matheran, car parking is available at the Dasturi Park. Vehicles are not allowed beyond this point. You will however find horses and rickshaws to cover the last leg of the journey. Alternately, walk along the railway track to reach Matheran from the car park.

Making it to Matheran – Take the train to Neral and the toy train to Matheran after that. Orelse, drive down to Dasturi Park. Ride a horse or a rickshaw or trek up to your destination. It will take you about 40 minutes to get there.

  1. Best Time to Travel to Matheran – Plan your trip to Matheran immediately after the monsoons, between mid-September and mid-October. This is the time when the verdant covers of the Western Ghats come alive. You will see many seasonal springs. The weather stays equable and conducive to outdoor sightseeing.

Time to Travel – Reach Matheran between mid-September and mid-October for the best views of the green Western Ghats and cascading mountain springs.

  1. Places to Visit in Matheran – There are many places to visit in Matheran for tourists travelling there for the first time. Head to Panorama Point if you do not mind rising early on your holiday. You will be greeted with the most spectacular views of the surrounding hills. If you are into outdoor activities, trek to Shivaji’s Ladder. Surrounded by lush forests, the terrain here is laid out in steps. Locals will have you know that the great Maratha King Shivaji often visited this site for pleasure walks. Towards the evening, head to Porcupine Point. The sight of fiery sunsets from this vantage point often attract tourists here. The Pisharnath Mahadev Mandir is on the lakefront and dedicated to a village deity worshipped by the locals. It is the oldest temple in Matheran. Some of the other points of interest you can visit include the Alexzander Point, Louisa Point, Hart Point, One Tree Hill, Charlotte Lake and the Lord Point.

Local Sightseeing in Matheran – Go trekking at Shivaji’s Ladder for walking in his footsteps. For great views of the Western Ghats, visit the Panorama Point and Porcupine Point.

  1. Eating-Out in Matheran – What is a holiday without trying out the local food? The best hotels in Matheran have restaurants which serve the regional fare. Have the ‘vada pao’ here. It is a potato fritter served in a bun. The ‘pao bhaji’ is a spicy, tangy vegetable mash served with buttered bread. They are dishes very popular in Maharashtra. The ‘solkhadi’ is a must-try on your visit to Matheran. It is a delicious drink made with coconut milk and ‘kokam’ – a local fruit. Do not skip the ‘puran poli’ – a sweet dish made out of flatbread, stuffed with jaggery and chickpeas.

Local Food at Matheran – Try out the local fare like the ‘pao bhaji’, ‘vada pao’ and the ‘puran poli’. If you enjoy the food, you enjoy the place.

  1. Shopping at Matheran – Indulge in some good old souvenir shopping during your stay here. Pick up ‘chikkis’. They are sweet bites made of nuts, jaggery and a variety of other ingredients. Not only are they easy on the pocket, they also travel well. Chocolate fudge is another favourite thing to buy in Matheran. You will find artefacts and artwork made locally on sale. Leather goods are also available.

What to buy – When in Matheran, buy ‘chikkis’ and chocolate fudge. Local artefacts and leather products are sold in shops.

When you book your hotel in Matheran and plan a holiday there, there is a lot to cover. With these tips in your kitty, have a great holiday.