Located at an altitude of 800 mts above sea level, Matheran is India’s only hill station where motor vehicles are not allowed in a radius of 3-7 kms of Matheran hills.
Visited Matheran hill station with spouse on 17th August, 2014 being Sunday and next day was a holiday. It was mayhem at the parking lot in Matheran on that day. Hundreds of vehicles moving on both sides of the narrow hilly road, it was a tense drive up the hill and chaotic near the entrance to the hill station. Vehicles of all shapes and sizes were parked on either side of the road, inside the parking area, even extending to the forest area. But once inside the hill station, it is peaceful and a paradise for walkers.
via Khopoli and Neral covering a distance of 120 km.
While driving from Pune, after crossing Khopoli and Vanvandal village, there is a place called “Chowk” where take a right turn, travel upto Karjat and at the Karjat Circle, turn left towards Neral and at the entrance Gate of Hutatma Veerbhai Kotwal Pravesh Dwaar, take a left turn towards Matheran.
There are regular State Transport buses plying from Mumai and Pune upto Neral.
From Mumbai via Neral covering a distance of about 110 kms.
While driving from Mumbai, take a left turn at Chowk and travel upto Karjat and at the Karjat Circle, take a left turn towards Neral and again left turn at Hutatma Veerbhai Kotwal Pravesh Dwaar at Neral for Matheran hills.
Nearest station : Neral and from Neral to Matheran by Toy Train.
Nearest airport is Mumbai.
The Railway administration has started mini train service from Dasturi Naka to Market area. This train service is quite helpful as the roads are muddy/dusty with the red soil being treaded upon by horses moving in both directions. The train service starts at 9.00 a.m. from Matheran market area and ends with last train at 3.25 p.m. from Matheran to Dasturi Naka. The frequency is hourly with 7 shuttle services during the day.
The Toy train service from Neral to Matheran is not functional during rainy season. That’s why the inflow of motor vehicles is very high.
From the parking area to the main market area, it a compulsory walk of 2.5 kms with luggage and children. There are horses to travel the distance but the charges are exhorbitant, particularly on week ends and holiday season. There are human driven carts which can cart only one person per cart. With a family it would be very expensive to engage the human driven carts.
We stayed at MTDC Resort at Dasturi Naka near the parking area. MTDC resort offers different type of accommodation. Shruti Villa which is charged at Rs.4,000/- when we visited is not actually a villa but a large room inside the resort. The room was well maintained and sufficiently large. Staff was cooperative.
There are number of hotels on the route from Dasturi Naka to Market area like Kumar Plaza, Hotel Woodside, Hotel Rangoli Retreat and other smaller hotels offering B&B.
There are 33 points in Matheran. Out of these, 8 points on the eastern side (One tree hill, charlotte lake, King Goerge Point, Echo Point, Luisa Point, Porcupine Point, Monkey Point and Hart Point) and 7 points (Panorama Point, Mount Berry, Garbut Point, Alexander Point, Rambaug Point, Little Chowk Point and Chowk Point) on the other side are some of the prominent ones within a distance of 1km to 6 kms from Market area. All the points cannot be covered in a day even on horseback or on cart. To cover all the points, 2/3 days stay at Matheran is desirable. To enjoy the fruits of nature away from hustle and bustle of city life and noise around, walking to the various points will be ideal.
While walking from Dasturi Naka to Market area along the tracks, there is Miara Point which provides a panoramic view of a waterfall, valley below and mountains around.
King George Point provides a view of the lake below and small waterfalls from the water overflowing from Charlotte lake. The far off mountain provides a bracket view.
Next to the King George Point is the Edward Point which also provides view of small waterfalls and a bird’s eye view of Luisa Point. The access to these points in muddy and slippery in rainy season.
Echo point is next to King George and Edward Points. This is a point where the silence of the forest can be breached by loud hooting to get the echo.
Further on towards Luisa Point, you can visit Honeymoon point & Malang Point. The honeymoon point has not much to offer to honeymooners except a cement bench to sit and watch the mountain ahead. Sunset Point is 2 kms away from the Malang point. Malang Point offers 3 dimensional view of the mountains. Between Malang Point and Luisa Point, the local horse and cart riders will tell you that a bunglow built by Salman Khan is visible near the water lake.
The Luisa Point offers the best view of Echo Point, Lake and Chowk Point. The deep valley below has a water stream from the smaller waterfalls. On the right side of the point, there is a small hillock which looks like a lion’s head.
Khandala Point is just 2 min. from the main Market area. This point also offers a panoramic view of the mountains around. You will find small time games at this point.
The other points like Alexander point, Charlotte Lake, Rambaug Point, Chowk Point, One tree hill point, porcupine point, monkey point, mount berry provide similar views of mountain tops and valley below. It is greenery all around and the path is through the forest area.
Owing to the presence of forest, Matheran is known to house a variety of birds like Open Billed Stork, Pied Kingfisher, Bagia etc.
It is also the house for monkeys. On the route from Dasturi Park to Market area, monkeys will entertain you and even snatch any snacks children or even elders carry in hand. Monkeys are very active at Luisa Point. I saw one monkey shaking the tin shades of a restaurant in the market area, because the monkey got angry at not being able to grab some food.
Visit Matheran for a eco-friendly holiday.