Matheran – Asia’s only automobile free hill station

monkey Matheran hill station

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?

horse at 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.

trails Matheran hill station

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.

railway track Matheran hill station

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. 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.

how to reach matheran hill station

neral station

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 Matheran hill station

Toy train to reach Matheran Hill station

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.

matheran hill station map

Matheran Map

hand cart Matheran hill station

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.

old lady Matheran hill station

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?

jungles Matheran hill station

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 Matheran hill station

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

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.

market area Matheran hill station

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.

locals Matheran hill station

 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.

onacheaptrip at matheran

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.

Looking for more weekend gateway options near Pune? Check out these posts:

Are you looking for some essential travel gear? Check out my blog post on What’s in my Backpack.

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24 thoughts on “Matheran – Asia’s only automobile free hill station

  1. Hi Abhishek,
    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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. The blog is really nice and informative, it has given me pointers for my trip planned on this coming weekend.

  5. 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!

  6. 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?

    1. 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.

  7. 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….!!

  8. Thanks! Went there about 30 years ago from Bombay and loved this place!! Train journey was very interesting!

  9. Shall surely have a go at it, at suitable time. Thanks for the genuine and appropriate information.

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