Matheran is a hill town located some 100 kilometres from Mumbai at an elevation of around 800 metres (2,625 feet). It was discovered by Hugh Malet in 1850 and developed as a tourist resort town by the British. Matheran literally means forest at the top and has been declared as an Eco sensitive region by the Government of India. All vehicles are banned here and the only modes of transport are on horseback, man pulled Rickshaw or on foot.
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The place is quite peaceful and offers spectacular views of the surrounding hills and valley. It is specially crowded on weekends when holiday seekers from big cities of Mumbai and Pune throng the resort town to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
The main market of Matheran is usually buzzing with activity with a number of shops selling shoes, slippers, sandals and other leather goods. Lots of varieties of Chikki (made of peanut and jaggery) are available here.
There is a garden near the main market, some of the other sights which can easily explored on foot are:
Temperatures vary from 16 °C in winters (Nov-Feb) to 32 °C in summers (March-May). Matheran experiences heavy rainfall in the monsoon season (June-September). The best time to visit Matheran is from October to February when it is cool and lush green with plenty of small waterfalls.
The nearest airport to Matheran, around 100 kilometres away is the Mumbai Airport which handles both domestic and international flights. Another nearby airport is the Pune airport which is around 120 kilometres away from Matheran.
A narrow gauge train runs from Matheran to Neral, a small town at the foot of the hill. Neral is well connected by train services from cities such as Pune and Mumbai. Apart from these suburban trains also run on the Mumbai - Karjat/Khapoli route which stop at Neral.
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Regular taxi service is also available from Neral to Dasturi Naka in Matheran which is around 3 kilometres from the main Matheran market. Since vehicles are not allowed beyond Dasturi Naka, one has to cover the last 3 kilometres either on foot or horseback.
Since vehicular transport is banned in Matheran, the only way to get around and explore Matheran is by foot or on a horseback. Horses can be hired for sightseeing and usually the guides also accompany the horses.
With tourism developing in Matheran, range of hotels have come up which should be booked in advance if one is planning to travel on a weekend.
See also International Telephone Calls
India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost 50rs to 200rs. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.
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