Matheran with a population of 5,500, is a hill station in Maharashtra, 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 at 18.59° N 73.18° E, around 110 km from Mumbai and about 120 km from Pune. It's proximity to the two cities makes it a popular weekend getaway for urban residents. The name Matheran means either "forest on top" or "mother forest".
It 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 It as a popular resort to beat the summer heat in the region.
It is connected to the town of Neral which lies at the base of the hills. A badly maintained road connects Neral to Dasturi Naka which is 11 km (6.8 miles) from Matheran. In order to maintain It's uniqueness, no vehicles are allowed beyond this point. The other mode of transport is a 2-ft (610-mm) narrow-gauge railway, which links the town to Neral. Neral also has a broad gauge station which is on the busy Mumbai-Pune route. The Matheran Hill Railway was built in 1907 by Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy and covers a distance of 20 km (12.4 miles), over large swathes of forest territory. It has been declared an ecosensitive region by the Union Environment Ministry. The main form of transport within Matheran are horses and hand-pulled rickshaws.
Matheran lying in an elevated region, it enjoys a cooler and less humid climate which makes it popular during the summer months. Temperatures range from 32 °C (90 °F) to 16 °C (61 °F). Matheran has a huge number of medicinal plants and herbs. The town also has a large monkey population, of both the red-faced and black-faced breeds. The nearby Lake Charlotte is the main source of It's drinking water.
Languages spoken include Marathi, Hindi, and English. 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. On clear nights, the lights of Mumbai are claimed to be visible.
It’s uniqueness lies in the fact that is the only hill station in India or may be in the world where air-polluting vehicles are not allowed. You have to reach Matheran either by the toy train, which is an experience in itself, or you have to reach Dasturi (nearly 11 km away from Matheran Railway Station) by car / taxi & then climb up the remaining hills by walking / on horse. By keeping the vehicular traffic away, not only Matheran retains its clean & calm atmosphere, but also takes you nearly 200 years back when there were no cars. Horses are the main mode of transport. Horse riding on the roads to One Tree Hill, Panorama Point is an enchanting experience.