Imagine a place where there are no vehicles allowed – not even a bicycle!! You might be thinking how the hell will you commute in the city?? What if I say it is the smallest Hill station in India and the best way to experience it, is just by walking and hiking. Would you still be interested in visiting? Sorry for asking so many questions and making you anxious. Let me end the anxiety. Have you heard about Matheran Hill station?
Horses at Matheran Hill station
Matheran which means “Forest on the forehead” is the smallest hill station in India located in the Sahyadri hill range in Raigad district of Maharashtra State. It is located at the height of 803 m above the sea level, and a narrow gauge railway line connects Matheran hill station to Neral.
Muddy paths at Matheran Hill Station
What makes this place stand out from the others is that vehicles are completely banned, making it very peaceful and pollution free. It has been declared an Eco-sensitive zone by the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest.
Narrow gauge railway track for Matheran toy train
How to reach Matheran Hill Station
Matheran hill station proximity to metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Pune makes it a popular weekend destination.
From Mumbai take a Karjat bound local train and get down at Neral Station. If you are coming from Pune, catch any Mumbai-bound train and get off at Karjat. Now catch a CST-bound local train and get down at Neral.
From Neral, you can reach Matheran hill station by following options:
- From Neral you can catch the famous Matheran Light Railway toy train which takes around 2 hours to reach Matheran. The train is often full, so turn up in good time to ensure you get a ticket. Due to frequent landslides in monsoon season, the toy train services are often terminated. You should travel by this toy train only if you have the patience to sit through the painfully slow journey. But, yes the views in the vicinity are just spectacular.
- Alternatively, just walk by the Neral station and you will find many shared taxis that will drop you at Dasturi Point(INR 80/person). Beyond Dasturi Point no vehicles are allowed, and you can walk along the rail line and reach Matheran in about 30 min. The walk is through the jungles full of lush green wood, and you will enjoy every bit of it. You can also opt for a horseback or man-pulled rickshaw ride along a mud track.
Neral Railway Station
Entry Fees for Matheran Hill Station
There is an “Entry Fee “to enter Matheran hill station, which is to be paid on arrival at the toy train station or at Dasturi point. The cost is 50 rupees per adult, and 20 rupees per child.
Toy train to reach Matheran Hill station
Foggy scenes at Matheran
Getting around Matheran
Being an automobile-free hill station, you need to opt for other options to get around. To enjoy nature to its fullest, walking is the best choice. All the trails have signboards, and the locals are very helpful to let you know the correct way. A stroll amidst clouds floating around you is majestic. If you are feeling a bit lazy, you can always opt for a ride.
Hand cart Matheran hill station
Just the curiosity to explore the town where vehicles are completely banned was the foremost reason what brought me to Matheran. With an area of 7 Km sq., I chose to explore it one foot at a time. Around the mountains of Matheran, there are close to 33 designated look-out points and 2 to 3 days are required to cover the same.
All of them offer breathtaking sunrise and sunset views and in order to avoid the huge crowd, try to be at the less popular ones. So what exactly are these points I am talking about?
Dense jungle in Matheran
These points are gateways to delight you with breathtaking mountain and valley views. The popular ones being Panorama Point, Heart Point, Monkey Point, Echo Point, Porcupine Point, Louisa Point. Other than this I would also recommend you to visit Charlotte Lake, One tree hill, and the main market area.
Lord’s Point at Matheran Hill station
I walked almost the entire day covering around 20 points and believe me it was one of the most exhilarating walks I have ever taken. The view of mountains kissing the clouds and the deep green valley at its foot is just mind-blowing. Oh, I dream about them each and every day.
Charlotte Lake Matheran hill station
Best time to visit Matheran
The climate at Matheran hill station is cool and pleasant throughout the year due to its geographical location. However, the best time to visit is from October to May but the place is worth a visit any time of the year. It’s beauty only doubles during the monsoon. So you can also consider vacationing during June to September months. But beware of muddy slippery trails.
Near Aman Lodge Matheran
Budget stay in Matheran hill station
If you don’t care about the rooms being slightly small, you can check out Krishna Villa. They charge around INR 250 per person. Due to increase in tourism several locals have turned their houses into tourist cottages. These are very cheap stay options for backpackers but don’t expect too much service. You can find these near Pramod Bar.
Some useful tips
Take enough cash with you as there are just 1 -2 ATM’s there, mostly out of cash.
Carry a pair of comfortable walking shoes for the dusty trails.
Avoid carrying food articles in your hand or an open handbag. Monkeys there try to snatch and that could hurt you.
Also, there are few popular treks in the Matheran range. If you have an extra day or two with you, you can go for the Peb Fort Trek or the Garbett Point trek.
Peb Fort trek
Matheran has something for everyone, from backpackers and nature enthusiasts to lovely-dovey couples looking to spend some romantic and peaceful time. What are you waiting for?? The hill station is eagerly waiting for you.
Do follow me on Instagram as I am regularly posting travel posts and stories over there. Also, you can message me on Instagram if you want to join me on my next trip.
Are you looking for some essential travel gear? Check out my post on What’s in my Backpack.
Looking for more weekend gateway options near Pune? Check out these posts:
- A cycle trip to Lavasa city from Pune (INR 100)
- Andharban jungle and Devkund Waterfall Trek – Time to get lost in the dense forest
- Satara – A road trip to the Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers from Pune (INR 800)
- Rajmachi Fort Trek, adventurous one day trip near Mumbai and Pune (INR 350)
- Tikona Fort Trek and Pawna Lake – One day trip near Pune (INR 250)
- A two-day trip to Torna Fort and Madhe Ghat Waterfall(INR 400)
- Daman – A Glimpse of Portugal Heritage
- A road trip to Harihareshwar, Shrivardhan and Diveagar Beach from Pune (INR 1200)
- Kalsubai Peak – Trek to the highest peak of Maharashtra (INR 600)
Hope you would have enjoyed reading this blog post on Matheran Hill station. To get regular updates on upcoming blog posts from On a Cheap Trip, please subscribe by entering your name and E-mail address in the Newsletter below. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest as well as on Twitter.
Loved your style of giving travel details. The photographs are amazing and add to the flavour. Thanks a lot. Looking forward to reading about more places .. and visiting them ..
I am going Matheran this weekend with my friends pls suggest me cheap homestays and if possible pls provide me the contact details coz I am not able to get any cheap stay options on internet
Expecting a reply asap as I am planning to go in same week
If I visit during holiday season Will I have to make a pre booking to the stays you mentioned in the post. If yes, from where can I make the bookings.
No need to pre-book Priya. There are many stay options over there which are not listed on the internet.
The hill station is crowded and lost its charm and beauty it had when i visited 32 years ago. The points you visit are cramped with people disallowing you to enjoy the place at its fullest. The horse rides are damn expensive making walking a good option which is again cumbersome due to the flying red dust when horses ride past you. It has lost its quietness and serenity and no longer the desolate hill station to relax it once was. But I would still rank it a place higher than Khandala which has become totally commercialized and haphazardly urbanized.
I agree with you Siddharth but its the case with almost all the places when you compare it with 32 years back. To avoid the crowd, I would always advise you to visit a place on a weekday or offseason.
Nice Explanation, All are very interesting destinations.Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with Us!
Hello,I read your blogs named “Matheran hill station – Asia’s only automobile free hill station” daily.Your story-telling style is witty, keep it up! And you can look our website about proxy free list.
Very well written. I was looking for all the info on Matheran and your blog has provided exactly the same
Thanks for your appreciation. Wish you a happy journey 🙂
Is it safe for a female solo traveler? I want to go there alone.
Yes Upasana it is perfectly safe for a female solo traveler.No issues at all.Let me know if you have more queries.Wish you a great journey.
The blog is really nice and informative, it has given me pointers for my trip planned on this coming weekend.
Thanks for reading!! Wish you a great trip 🙂
We also went with friends there during winter! We did a bike trip from Pune to Matheran! Bike trip is an amazing adventure! We enjoyed alot! Your blog memorized me my journey, thanks for writing!
Nice to hear that Sugandh !! Thanks for reading 🙂 Wish you a great day ahead.
if i were to drive from Pune, how should i go about?. Is there a place i can park the car and then start hiking or any other options available?
Yes, you can easily reach Matheran driving from Pune.You can take your car/bike till dasturi car parking which is 15 km from Neral.From dasturi, Matheran is just 30 min of slow walking.Let me know if you have any more queries.
I m going to visit on this weekend & your blog has given me much useful information about the places & stay option which saved my time….!!
Great to hear that.Wish you a great stay at Matheran.
Thanks! Went there about 30 years ago from Bombay and loved this place!! Train journey was very interesting!
yes, the train journey is quite unique !!!
You explored another hidden Indian beauty ?
Thanks a lot 🙂
Shall surely have a go at it, at suitable time. Thanks for the genuine and appropriate information.
Thanks a lot Maitreya!!! Yes, you should definitely visit the place.