Matheran : India’s Most Eco friendly Hill Station

I was landed in  Bombay for the first time in the year 1978 and immediately fell in love with it and its surroundings. In fact one travel just 100 km away from the city  one feel that he is very close to nature. After shifting to Bombay  I had visited almost every hill station of India except the closet one to Bombay i.e. Matheran which is only 90-95 km away from the city. It was only yesterday we visited this hill station.

Our journey started from Lokhandwala at 6 AM.  First reached  Andheri station by auto rickshaw,  then local to Dadar. From Dadar we took a Karjat bound local train, got down at Neral. It was a hot sultry morning at Neral. Neral is a  junction  of Central Railway, the place from which Matheran Light Railway (MLR)  start  its journey to Matheran. The railway line was a dream of Sir Adamji Peerbhai who was Sherif of Bombay. The work started in the year 1902 and Peerbhai’s vision was translated into reality in five years time. The project costed him approximately Rs.16 Lac, which was a princely sum at that point of time.  It is  situated on the top of hill surrounded by  dense and deep forest . This narrow gauge train takes 2 hours  to reach Matheran. The serpentine train route covers 22 km. in high and low of hill. During the rainy season for four months the train service is suspended for The track has the maximum number of curves on the zig zag hilly terrain.Not surprising, this rail route has been recommended to be listed as UNESCO heritage site.

Toy train scaling difficult terrain


In case one wishes to go to Matheran by a car, shared taxi or minibus, it takes only 25 minutes from Neral but  lacks the thrill of Toy Train. Another problem is the vehicles can not go inside the Matheran town, the vehicles are allowed upto Dasturi Naka, which is 3 KM before the town, the only means of reaching the town is riding on a horse  ala Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, man pulled cart or simply walking on foot or just walk the distance along the railway tracks to reach your preferred destination! The walk should not take you more than an hour from Dasturi Naka. A huge parking lot is maintained by the Matheran Municipal Council at Dasturi Naka to facilitate tourists.

View from Toy Train

Another View fro Toy Train

Matheran town is very small in size , the entire  activities are centred around market close to tiny railway station. The main market  is the place to do all your shopping for leather goods particularly ladies chappals, purse,   Chikki/fudge for which Matheran is famous. Kumar Plaza, Ketkar, Ramkrishana, Garden View are some of the restaurants close by to Station in the market area serve good food at reasonable price. vegetarian  as well as non-vegetarian food at moderately price.

Matheran Railway Station Hub of Town Acitivites

View from Sunset Point

Once in Matheran you again have a couple of options – go for long walks in any direction and you are bound to visit some ‘point’ or the other or refer to the map that is printed on the reverse of your entrance ticket to visit all the 38 points marked therein. Our research revealed that a max of 5 points are worth the visit and while visiting them you will visit maybe 20 others by default! So, to begin our point visitation, decided to visit the Sunset point aka Porcupine Point. If you wish, you can take a minor detour and visit Lords, Eco, Louisa  points .  If one has more time andpatience, then visit  Alexander point ,Rambaug point ( considered to be a fine sunrise point) , Chowk Pt. (southernmost), One tree Hill point and Panorama point (northernmost).

View from Chowk Point

Last but not the least,  Matheran is one of the most eco friendly place. You will not find any concrete or damar road inside the town. There is no petrol/ diesel  run vehicle except lone emergency van in town hospital. Definitely all these endeavours have helped purity of air, serenity in the area. But in the name of eco conservation, lot of depleted structures are left as it in the market area,tourist place needs some face lift. Each and every tourist entering in the town has to pay Rs25/- are charged from every visitor to the town but still nothing substantial is done for them, on the entire market road, main park no proper loo is there. God knows, where this entry money is spent ? To me lot has to be done to improve civic facilities so that the tourists should go back with pleasant experience.

Lake

19 Comments

  • JATDEVTA says:

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  • JATDEVTA says:

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  • Subodh says:

    Hi Pradeep , a good description of Matheran Travel . I have been to Matheran for Couple of Times , Once in Monsoon time . Though Monsoon is a Off season in Matheran but I feel this to be the perfect time to Visit. Due to proximity of Mumbai and Pune lot of Crowd gather’s on weekends and thus make this place very crowded . In Monsoon time number of tourists visiting this place goes down drastically and one can bargain for the facilities available like Horse ride , Hotels etc.

    The toy train Ride is on my list and I will surely going to do in my next visit. For the information of all the tickets for this train can be booked from Irctc and it costs Rs35 for SS and Rs225 for First Class.

    One small suggestion on the Post ” It ended suddenly .. a proper ending would have made the the reading much more interesting”.

  • Thanks Pradeep, you have brought something worthnew(unfamous). Sorry, every member of ghumakkar family brings something new in his every ghumakkarhi but this is quite new for me atleast. Good pics with better description and with sudden end.

    In wait of your next discovery for the ghumakkar family.
    Thanks again.

  • sarvesh n vashistha says:

    pradeep ji, thanks for giving details of eco friendly place-no petrol/diesel vehicle.
    the toy train ride i had at darjeeling, ooty, and shimla. i will visit matheran soon.that
    time civic facilities will improved.

  • ashok sharma says:

    good post,nice pics.Matheran is beautiful

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Welcome to ghumakkar, Pradeep. You have described Matheran in a vivid manner and the accompanying photographs showcase the rugged beauty of this hill station. Great to know that vehicles are banned within the town and sad to know that amenities for tourists are not up to the mark. Someone has to be accountable for how the money is being spent.

    You have mentioned about a map with 38 points printed on the reverse of the entrance ticket. I wish that you had posted a picture of this map so that we have an idea about the topography of the place and the view points you had mentioned in this post.

  • Nisha says:

    First, welcome to Ghumakkar family. :-)

    Nice pictures of Matheran. Would tempt anyone to go there. You were lucky to get seats in the toy train… mostly it is full if you try to book at the counter itself. We booked the tickets in advance to reserve our seats. There are just 2 trains making 4 rounds everyday.

    Well, I don’t see it as a ‘problem’ if the vehicles can not go inside the Matheran town. They want to preserve it’s natural beauty by not allowing even 2 wheelers inside the town. I wish more towns adopt this. From Dasturi one can also walk up the town and on one of the trips we did exactly that.

    I have been to this place 3 times and have also written some posts about it. I can see a lot of improvement in the market area itself.
    The roads are paved now with a walkway left for horses. They can not go on concrete roads, you see. There are now more shops and in organized manner compared to earlier. There are rides and other attractions for tourists which were earlier missing though personally I would not wish to see them there. I agree with your views on toilets.

    Yes, there’s still room for improvement but it’s happening slowly.

  • Surinder Sharma says:

    Dear Mr. Pradeep Gupta
    Marvelous very good writing, nice photos. First time I heard about Matheran. So nice place no motor car great. Like to know about accommodation. Thanks a lot.
    Best Regards,

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Matheran Seems to be a nice weekend place to hang out for Mumbaikar.

    Matheran is very much in my list. As DL suggested , kindly send the picture of the map with 38 points to editor & they will add it to your post.

    Some details about the worth visiting places & information on Hotels with price would be great help for the follow Ghumakkars.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Welcome aboard Pradeep.

    The pictures of toy train are inviting and thank you for detailed information around how to access and best time to go. I also got a feeling that the movie ended soon enough :-). Let us know if you want to add more details, more pictures etc.

    We look forward to your responses against the comments. Best Regards.

  • Welcome to Ghumakkar Pradeep jee

    Wonderful post on Matheran . I went some years back . Its the most eco friendly place I have ever seen . You wont feel that you are travelling in a town. You will feel that you are walking around a jungle. Full of dense trees , red mud and beautiful points are the attraction of the city.

    And to people its a town having a very large area. You won’t complete the whole town on walk in a single day , you have to hire ponies which are very costly .

    Pradeepjee I felt you must have added more pics of the town also.

    Thanks for wonderful post . keep travelling and writing.

  • I think Matheran will be even more beatutiful after Monsoon showers. I have not gone there but seen very green hills in photographs.

  • Naman says:

    Welcome Aboard! :D A very good post with wonderful pics! :)

  • prayags says:

    Thanks for a nice post and letting us know about Matheran. Reminds me of Landsdowne !!

  • venkatt says:

    Nice informative post, Gupta ji. To ban the use of petrol and diesel vehicles in a hill station, in this day and age of commercialism is indeed a commendable effort on the part of the authorities concerned.

  • Dear Pradeep,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and photos of Matheran which brought many old memories of Matheran flooding back to me. I had been to Matheran in 1970 with my uncle and two cousins when I was in 8th standard and had an Agfa Isoli IV b/w camera. I don’t have any photographs of Matheran left with me now but distinctly remember visiting sunset point. Someone had indicated the next hill towards west in which is a natural cut which looks like lower half of India. When Sun sets, it goes downward through this natural cut – giving the impression that the Sun is moving from Northern India, through Kanyakumari, the southern most tip and ultimately into the Indian ocean!

    The train journey was indeed a thrilling experience for us. We used to get down from the moving train, and get in again on the next turn (we used to reach that point earlier than the train by using short cut tracks).

    I have gone to Mumbai several times since then but my wish to visit Matheran again remains unfulfilled till date mainly because my relatives in Mumbai see no attraction in Matheran ! So, they somehow convince my wife, “Arey chhodo naa, Goa chalenge, Mahabaleshwar chalenge, Nasik chalenge, Shirdi chalenge – Matheran me kya rakha hai! “

  • Vikram says:

    Hi All …
    What time does the market, shops and restaurants get close in Matheran?

  • ankit says:

    hi, very nice post. i just wanted to know that , the map which you mentioned at the back site of the ticket is enough to guide you there in matheran. is it safe if we want to walk with our family. please reply….

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