Matheran : a complete guide

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Matheran is situated at a height of 803 m above sea level. Since 1907, a narrow gauge railway line connects Matheran to Neral in the plains. Motor vehicles are completely banned in Matheran, making it quite peaceful despite the thousands of visitors coming here, mostly from Mumbai. There are several vantage points offering spectacular views of the surrounding hills and valley.

Matheran is a plateau with reasonably dense forest cover. Being a mountain resort, it is enjoyable almost all year round. In winter, nights can get a little cold. The best time to visit Matheran is post monsoon. It is truly spectacular at this time of year, with lush vegetation, waterfalls and the water-filled lake.

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How to reach

By train

From Pune, take any train to Mumbai and get off at Karjat (about 95 km from Pune). Then take a local train bound for Karjat CST and get off at Neral (21 km, it would take about 15 min).

From Neral Station there is the so-called toy train that takes you to Matheran about 4 times a day. This toy train is not operational when the railway route is under maintenance or when there is a perceived danger, for example the monsoon. Unfortunately, the only way to find out is at the Neral station.

Neral to Matheran tickets from November 2009 are 1st class ₹ 210, 2nd class booked 35Rs and 2nd class ₹ 20 without reservation. Tickets can be booked 3-1 days in advance and then on the day of travel 45 minutes before the train.

The train is usually full, so arrive on time to make sure you get a ticket. You can also book the ticket online through IRCTC [1]. If there is a queue of motionless people at the box office with a salesman reading the newspaper, all 2nd class tickets will be sold out. Skip the queue to the window and ask for 1st class, as they are usually still available.

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By car

Cars are not allowed in Matheran. However, you can drive and park your car at the Dasturi car stop, or take the newly introduced mini bus from Karjat or Neral train stations to Dasturi. From Dasturi, you must take a 40-minute horseback or man-made rickshaw ride to Matheran along a mud trail.

Alternatively you can walk from Dasturi along the railway line and up to Matheran – 20 minutes to half an hour. The railway is a bit shorter, more scenic and much more comfortable than the main, dusty road. Coolies or porters are available at Dasturi to carry your luggage. Remember to negotiate rates in advance. You can also make group or solo bookings.

On foot

There are several hiking trails that climb the Matheran plateau. These are used by local people traveling to the hill station as well as by occasional intrepid tourists.

From the eastern side, trekkers start in Neral (see above).

You can also approach the western side, which has the distinct advantage of being in the shade for most of the climb if you start early in the morning. A recommended monsoon route starts in Dudhoni village and takes you to Sunset Point in Matheran. It is suitable for beginners, and the climb only takes 2 hours or more. Apparently there’s a trip to a waterfall, but I didn’t do it. Dudhoni can be reached by autorickshaw from Panvel (reachable by bus or central line train). The trail is obvious in most places; If in doubt, ask a local.

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Places to visit

  • Panorama Point – This point is very beautiful as you can see a panoramic view of the hills on the left and a beautiful Ulhas river on the right. This point is a long way from Matheran Station / Market, but you can negotiate a good price for your trip if you don’t feel like walking. This point is perfect for Sunrise and is also called “Sunrise Point”.
  • Heart Point – Here you can see a beautiful valley scene and this point looks like heart, so it is so called.
  • Monkey Point – Here you can see the monkeys in large numbers and their life-size pranks.
  • Malang point
  • Luisa Point – The view from here to the waterfall (fleeing Lake Charlotte) during the monsoons is spectacular.
  • Honeymoon Hill – According to locals, a British official had his honeymoon really organized at this time. Also, this last Parsis used to pick honey at its point, hence the name.
  • Echo Point – True to its name, this point has an excellent echo effect! Feel free to scream loudly at the point and hear the echo from distant places across the valleys.

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  • Charlotte lake
  • Lords point
  • One tree Hill – A unique hill that has only one large tree growing on it. The path to the hill is a bit risky and steep.

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  • Olympia – There is a horse racing course.
  • Paymasters park
  • Mount barry
  • Artist point
  • Khandala Point – Very close to Matheran Market.
  • Alexandar Point
  • Rambaug point
  • Little Chowk Point – Spectacular view towards the southern tip of Matheran.
  • Chowk Point – Spectacular view towards the southern tip of Matheran.
  • Sunset Point (Hedgehog)
  • Garbut point

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Necessary tips

  • Bring a good pair of comfortable shoes. Matheran is quite dusty and there is red soil everywhere.
  • Roads may be uneven, with many small stones, but they are not sharp rocks. If you wear a good pair of thick-soled shoes, you should be fine.
  • The weather is really great, as you can walk even in summer without feeling too uncomfortable. Morning is the best time for hiking, but be ready for a hazy view as the cloud covers the place early in the morning.

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  • You can walk from Dasturi to Neral Station, following the Ghat roads or the toy train tracks. It would be best to combine both routes for spectacular views. This walk will take about 1 hour and you will find only 1-2 small tea stalls. Take some water.
  • Avoid carrying too much luggage with you. You can’t take it by car and you need someone to carry it for you. Some of these porters are women and you may not feel good with a woman carrying her heavy bag. Anyway, it is very easy to find a male charger (also called “coolie” in India). They may charge around ₹ 60-100 for transporting your bags to the hotel, depending on the location of the hotel. They are also reliable and you can safely deliver your bags and follow the route you want. They will be at your hotel before you.
  • The rates for horses are different. Horse keepers charge somewhere between ₹ 100-500. You can bargain.
  • Carry enough money with you as there is only one ATM in Matheran and unfortunately it often does not work during the monsoons.
  • There are monkeys nearby. Please do not feed or play with them. Do not openly carry any food items, as the monkeys definitely try to pull it out. Also, they are quite harmless.

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