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How to reach Matheran from Mumbai: A Local's Guide

As a Mumbai resident who loves quiet hill stations, Matheran is one of my favorite weekend getaways. Nestled in the Western Ghats at an elevation of 2,625 feet, this eco-sensitive region has a ban on automobile traffic, making it a peaceful refuge from the city chaos. Getting there requires a bit of planning, but the journey is well worth it.

In this article, I'll share my personal experiences making the trip from Mumbai to Matheran as a guide for other travelers.

how to reach matheran from mumbai


Reaching Matheran from Mumbai takes 2-3 hours depending on the mode of transport. The nearest railhead is Neral Junction, from where you can take a toy train or taxi to reach Matheran.

Alternatively, you can drive your own vehicle from Mumbai up to Dasturi car park and then take a horseback or walking trail for the last 2 kilometers. I prefer the train route for convenience and to enjoy the scenic journey.

Here's a quick rundown of the transportation options:

  • Toy Train (2.5 hours): Catch a local train from Mumbai to Neral Junction, then take the narrow gauge heritage railway train to Matheran. Runs frequently but has limited seats.

  • Taxi (2 hours): Hire a taxi from Mumbai to drive you directly to Dasturi car park, avoid traffic by starting very early morning. Then horseback or walk the last stretch.

  • Private car (2-3 hours): Drive your own car to the Dasturi car park and park there before the final ascent. Be prepared for traffic delays on the highway.

My Favorite Route: Mumbai Local Train + Toy Train

Over the years, I've found that taking the local train from Mumbai to Neral and then switching to the toy train is the best way for me to start my Matheran trip. Here are the steps I follow:

Step 1: Catch a local train from any major Mumbai station (CST, Dadar, Thane) going towards Karjat. These are usually empty early morning trains so I reach my station by 7 AM to find a comfortable 2nd class ticket. If you time it right, the scenic view as the train passes over the Vaitarna River is magnificent.

how to reach matheran from mumbai

Step 2: After about 1.5 hours, deboard at Neral Junction station. This small station has a few snack stalls but I carry my own water and snacks. The toy train booking window has long queues on weekends so I book my return tickets a day in advance.

Step 3: The narrow gauge toy train seats fill up fast. Luckily I've grabbed a window seat many times from which I can feast my eyes on the forests and waterfalls along the 5-kilometer ascent. The train moves slowly over the steep gradients, stopping at quaint little stations along the way.

Step 4: One last stop for a security check and the final ten minutes is on foot to my resort in the heart of Matheran Hills.

Packing Light is Key

From hard-learned experience, I know that packing light is crucial, especially if you plan to explore Matheran on foot after arriving at the train station. Here are my tips:

  • No hard suitcases - backpack or soft duffel only

  • Limit to one bag per person, use a foldable daypack inside the main bag

  • Carry essential meds, cap/glasses, wallet, phone, power bank

  • Wear/carry a light jacket - it can get windy.

Trust me, lugging around heavy bags on the unpaved muddy trails is no fun and coolies aren't always available. I now leave my extra shoes and half my clothes behind!

The Return Journey

Getting back from Matheran is actually easier if you time it right.

I budget my days such that I reach the toy train station by 2 pm to get seats on the 3 pm return train. For most Mumbai folks taking a weekend trip, this is just when they start queuing up!

If I miss the train, I don't mind splurging on a taxi back to Neral which takes less than 30 minutes. But the train ride is an integral part of my Matheran experience. Sitting cozy amidst new-found friends and reflecting on my moments of solitude, completes my journey full circle.

Why It's Worth the Effort

Despite the effort it takes, Matheran remains my top recommendation for those seeking quiet nature trails and mountain air near Mumbai.

The toy train may run slowly but allows me to soak in the sights - whether gazing at Louisa Point's vistas or waving at smiling village kids. And being car-free, Matheran retains a simplicity that rejuvenates my senses. Meandering along shady forests and verdant hills, I feel inner resilience grow.

To new travelers, I say be flexible on plans when visiting Matheran. Monsoons can disrupt routes and summer heat drains energy. But everything from hidden Parsi temples to charming British bungalows offers little joy in this "forest on the forehead of the Sahyadris" as Matheran literally means.

So try it out for yourself when you seek a breather from Maximum City. Arm yourself with the right information and gear up for a rewarding trip.

Let the rolling mist clear before your eyes and discover what I find irresistible about Matheran.


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