Can Matheran Be Covered In A Day?

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I was always skeptical of planning a day trip to Matheran. At the back of my mind ran questions like…..

  • Is it doable?
  • Will it be hectic?
  • How long would it take to reach?
  • What about toy train timings?
  • Do toy trains run during monsoons?
  • How much would I have to trek if I chose to not take the toy train?
  • How much time do I give myself to sight-see if I return on the same day?

I have pretty much got answers to all these questions after my recent day trip to Matheran. And I am going to answer these questions in this post so you can conveniently plan a day trip to this hill station.

Cascading waterfalls - day trip to matheranAlexander Point in Matheran

Day Trip to Matheran

Matheran needs little introduction. The smallest hill station in India is a popular getaway just over 90 km from Mumbai and 120 km from Pune. It has been declared an Eco-sensitive zone by the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest. The most special reason to visit Matheran though, is to get a glimpse of the only town in India that bans vehicles.

Back during the pre-independence era, Matheran used to be a popular summer retreat for the British. Even today, Matheran looks like a town straight out of the 1800s with limited urbanization and no sight of vehicles.

forest enveloped in mist during monsoons in matheran - day trip to matheran

Dense forest enveloped in thick mist whilst trekking towards Matheran (Photo: Vishal Singh)

How to reach Matheran

Getting to Matheran is fun (if not convenient). Start early morning and take either the Deccan Express (7am from CST) or Koyna Express (8:40am from CST). One can even take the Karjat bound local train from CST at 6:45am. Get off at Neral station, two stops before Karjat. The journey is approximately an hour and a half. I suggest Karjat bound 6:45am train or Deccan Express are good options since your arrival at Neral coincides with the early morning timings of Matheran bound toy trains.

If you are patient to give yourself two hours in the leisurely paced toy train, you are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Sahyadri hill range (and cascading waterfalls during monsoons).

Toy Train in Matheran - day trip to Matheran

Neral – Matheran Heritage Toy train

If not for the toy train, an alternative is to hire a cab from Neral station to Dasturi Park. This is your get off destination since vehicles are not allowed beyond this point. From Dasturi Park you either trek along the railway tracks or hire a horse or hand pulled rickshaw to Matheran.

What did we do?

We took the Karjat bound 6:55am from Dadar and got off at Neral. From there we hired a cab to Dasturi Park for Rs. 75 per head. We reached Dasturi Park in 20 mins and trekked another 40 mins to reach the main market area in Matheran.

trek to matheran - day trip to Matheran

Trekking to Matheran

Sightseeing in Matheran

Matheran is a small town spread across less than 8 km². There are over 30 points, 1 lake and 3 temples in Matheran. The points offer spectacular views of the Western Ghats. During monsoons, waterfalls add character to the mountain ranges and the view is awe-inspiring.

Matheran during monsoons - day trip to Matheran

What did we see?

We entered Matheran at 11 am, had some tea and went off to explore. Sure, Matheran has over 30 points but given the time at hand, we decided to check only a few. Besides, covering even 15 points would have been an overdose of points for a single day. After sometime, they would all look the same. So here are some of the recommended points you can cover on your short trip Alexander Point, Louisa Point, One Tree Hill, Lord Point, and Charlotte Lake.

Panoramic shot at Alexander Point Matheran - (day trip to Matheran)Panoramic view from Alexander Point (Photo credits: Vishal Singh)

Returning from Matheran

The last toy train from Matheran towards Neral leaves at 4:30 pm. Missing this train means you trek back to Dasturi park and arrange for further transport (like bus or taxi) to Neral station.

How did we return?

We actually skipped the toy train since leaving at 4:30pm gave barely any time in Matheran. After all our sightseeing and lunch we bid good bye to Matheran at 6:30pm and started our trek back to Dasturi Park. We took a cab from there to Neral station and boarded the 7:55pm train to Dadar. We were all home by 10pm and the journey was NOT at all hectic.

Walking along the toy train track - day trip to Matheran

What about Food in Matheran?

Lunch could mostly be in the main market area, aka, M.G. road. Hotels, restaurants and small tapris selling Tea, Vada pav and Maggie line up the pathway. Choose from any of these based on your liking for cuisine or budget. Since tourism is the only way locals can make money, food and other items purchased could be pricey. (Our Maggie costs Rs. 40 which in actuality was a Rs. 5 packet if purchased from a general store).

M.G Road Matheran - Vehicles are ban in Matheran - day trip to Matheran

The Main market area, aka, M.G. Road in Matheran

Key tip for your short trip:

The toy train to Matheran is over-hyped. It moves at a snail’s pace and can make you borderline impatient. Having said that, it is a unique experience one must undertake at least once. If you decide to take the toy train ride in your single day trip, make sure you do this in the morning. You can trek back in the evening giving yourself more time in Matheran.

transport by horse - day trip to Matheran

Important Note:

  • Don’t get confused between Neral station and Nerul station. The latter is in Navi Mumbai.
  • The toy train has a scheduled time table but its on-time departures and arrivals are questionable. Also, they may not operate if there is rough weather or heavy rainfall. The only way to find out is when you get there.
  • There is an entrance charge for visitors to Matheran of apprx. Rs. 50 per head towards maintaining its ecosystem. This needs to be paid at the Matheran station if arriving by toy train or at Dasturi Park if reaching by cab.

(Note: Amounts and figures mentioned above were correct at the time of publishing it)

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Edwina D'souza

Read write watch, 2 left hands and feet, recluse, gazer and occasionally suffer from wanderlust syndrome!!

14 Comments:

  1. mind blowinggg….

  2. Your matheran trip sound is amazing !!!
    But according to my matheran trip experiences it’s is very less day that is one day, it’s minimum require three to four day to make trip memorable.

  3. Dear Wannabemaven, Excellent post on an relatively unknown place to the travelers from outside of the sate.Could u help me by telling how could I reach there if i want to make my way direct from the Elora caves and i will have my kid with me.

  4. thank edwina, This information is very useful to those people who travelling matheran for the first time.

  5. thanks for the information. You saved my time. I am sure the suggested points (for one day tour) and toy train ride will be an amazing experience.

  6. Sreejith Sreedhar

    Hello Edwina,

    The travelogue seems interesting. I am new to Mumbai and now exploring places all around. I love travelling and interested in photography. i was thinking about weekend trip to Matheran and your post have triggered me to do that. Will share the experience once I am done with the trip

    Thankyou

  7. Hi! Can a solo female traveller trek in matheran? Is it safe?

    • Hi Aanchal,
      Matheran is relatively safe to trek and even otherwise. But it is always advisable for women to not venture out alone late night. M.G. road is a small commercial stretch where all the action is. Rest of the area consist of peaks and points that can get secluded at night.

  8. Hi Edwina,
    I am a solo female traveller, sometimes a backpacker. I love exploring. I have been seeing your articles on Tripoto and now I found your blog here. I am simply loving it.I love the ideas and images you share here, it is amazing.
    Would love to connect sometimes, its always great to find like minded people…

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