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How to Reach Matheran, the Hill Station Near Mumbai

As someone who loves nature and escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, I make it a point to visit Matheran at least a couple of times a year. Nestled in the Western Ghats range, this cute little hill station is the closest thing to heaven for me.

Getting there is half the fun if you ask me. The journey may seem a bit long, but trust me when I say every bit of it is an experience in itself.

Let me walk you through how I usually make my way up to Matheran from Mumbai, hoping to inspire you to make the trip too.

How to Reach Matheran

Choosing Between Train and Road

The two most popular routes to reach Matheran are:

  • By train: Catch a local train on the Mumbai-Karjat route and get off at Neral. From there you take the toy train that goes all the way up to Matheran.

  • By road: Drive all the way from Mumbai up the hill via the winding roads. You can either drive yourself or hire a taxi.

I prefer the train route for a few reasons:

  • The toy train ride through the forested slopes is an adventure. The 20 km uphill journey takes you through some really picturesque landscapes.

  • It eliminates mountain road sickness if you feel queasy on winding roads like me.

  • You also skip navigating the twisty roads by yourself.

The only downside is that the toy train schedule is quite restrictive. There are only 5-6 rides each day so you have to plan your trip accordingly.

The road route offers flexibility but can be tough to manage alone. If you do want to drive, I'd suggest traveling in a group to make it less tedious.

Step 1: Boarding the Local Train from Mumbai

My Matheran trips usually start at the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus early morning, reach Neral by 7-8 am, and catch one of the first toy train rides up to Matheran.

You can choose any station to board the local train depending on where in Mumbai you're coming from. Some options are:

  • CSMT if you live in South Mumbai

  • Dadar for central and east Mumbai

  • Kurla for north and eastern suburbs

  • Andheri or Bandra for the western suburbs

Just make sure you get onto a Karjat fast local. The ride to Neral typically takes 1.5 hours to 2 hours at the most.

Tip: Avoid boarding in rush hour during office hours when the trains are super cramped. I'd much rather wake up early.

Step 2: Take the Neral-Matheran Toy Train

This right here is the highlight of the journey.

The moment I get off at Neral station, I make my way to the toy train station close by. You need to buy tickets in advance or get in a queue to buy them. I prefer doing advance booking online.

Once you settle into your seat, prepare yourself for two hours of forested landscapes, lush green surroundings, and glimpses of breathtaking valleys. Keep treating your eyes as the toy train makes its way up the hill at a leisurely pace.

Make way for stoppages at Jumapatti, Waterpipe, Aman Lodge, and Simpson Tank. Hop off briefly at the station bazaars to grab a cuppa tea and local snacks as refreshments too.

Pro tip: Sit on the left-hand side for better views along the route. Avoid monsoon season when landslides can cause ride disruptions. Winter and summer offer the best views.

Step 3: Exploring Matheran on Foot Once There.

You know you've reached Matheran when the toy train whistles its way into the rustic station up on the hilltop. The final two-hour stretch feels truly rewarding after this wonderful uphill climb.

When you step out of the station, let the crisp air and tranquility engulf you. Matheran is all about exploring the forests and viewpoints on foot so get your walking shoes on.

Just make sure you have confirmed hotel accommodation before you arrive. Matheran does not allow private vehicles beyond a point so porters will transport your luggage from the station.

Now go ahead, give those limbs a workout, and cover all the trails. My favorite routes are:

  • Through Alexander Point and Rambagh Point to Little Chowk

  • From Echo Point to Charlotte Lake and Louisa Point

Spend sunsets at Porcupine Point, enjoy stargazing at One Tree Hill after dinner, and meditate at Panorama Point for spiritual rejuvenation.

Truly explore Matheran on foot to soak in every bit of peace and natural beauty here in your own way.

Making the Return Journey

Parting is never easy from Matheran's tranquil surroundings but returning back is easier than reaching here.

I usually spend 2-3 nights up on the hill to relax but often stay flexible to avoid missing the Neral toy train timing.

Once I'm back to Neral station, I quickly grab a bite before boarding the local train back to CSTM. Reaching Mumbai in just a couple of hours brings my rejuvenating mini-break to an end.

Key Takeaways from My Matheran Travels

After several trips to Matheran so far, I highly recommend visiting this scenic hill station to anyone looking for a nature break.

Even if you aren't much of a traveler, just spend a relaxed long weekend on the hills. Matheran makes it really easy and smooth thanks to the toy train connectivity from Mumbai.

Simply follow my guidelines of:

  • Reaching early and booking return tickets in advance

  • Carrying light luggage and enjoying the uphill toy train ride

  • Exploring Matheran trails on foot to take in its natural vibe and beauty

While you may have to plan your trip in sync with the toy train timings, it's totally worth it once you inhale the crisp air and magnificent views.

Don't think too much. Block your dates, pack your bags, and de-stress on Matheran's hills. Feel free to save this guide and ping me for any help needed in planning your first trip here.


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