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.
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 at the height of 803 m above the sea level, and a narrow gauge railway line connects Matheran hill station to Neral.
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
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.
Neral Railway 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
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 Matheran
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.
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.
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:
- 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)
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