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Matheran pronunciation (help·info) with a population of 5,912 (census held in 2002), is a hill station in Maharashtra, India. It is the tiniest 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 at 18.59° N 73.18° E, around 110 km from Mumbai and about 120 km from Pune. Matheran'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".
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 connected to the town of Neral which lies at the base of the hills. A tar road connects Neral to Dasturi Naka which is 11 km (6.8 miles) from Matheran. In order to maintain Matheran'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. Neral is well connected by raiway lline with Karjat being the nearest Junction. 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.
In the recent July 2005 floods, the railway lines were washed away and currently the railway line is dormant.
Matheran has been declared an ecosensitive region by the Union Environment Ministry and can be called a Health Sanatorium in itself. 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 (Matheran)|Lake Charlotte is the main source of Matheran'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.