Matheran | India
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Matheran is the closest hill station to Mumbai in the Sahyadri hill range in Raigad district of Maharashtra State.


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Planning a Trip

1 Get in 1.1 By train 1.2 By car 1.3 On foot There is a entry fee (of ₹ 40 for adult visitors and ₹ 20 for children from May 1, 2012) to Matheran. The proceeds from this is used for the upkeep of the place considering its fragile ecosystem. By train You can catch either a Karjat-bound local train the 07.10 Deccan Express (arrives at 08.38 in time for the 08.50) from CST (a.k.a. VT Mumbai, India) on the Central Railway to Neral Station. If coming from Pune, catch any Mumbai bound train and get off at Karjat (Around 95 km from Pune).Then catch a CST bound local train from Karjat and get down at Neral (21 km, would take around 15 min). From Neral Station, there is the so-called toy train which runs to Matheran about 4 times in a day. This toy train is not operational when railway route is under maintenance or when there is a perceived hazard e.g. the monsoons. Unfortunately, the only way to find this out is at the Neral Station. Neral to Matheran tickets as of November 2009 costs are 1st Class ₹210, 2nd Class Reserved 35Rs, 2nd class unreserved ₹20. Tickets can be booked from 3 to 1 day in advance, and then on the day of travel from 45 minutes before the train. The train is often full, so turn up in good time to ensure you get a ticket. You can also book the ticket online through IRCTC[1]. If there's a queue of unmoving people at the ticket window with a salesman who is reading the paper, then all the 2nd class tickets are sold out. Jump the queue to the window and ask for 1st class as the're usually still available. The toy train times (as of Nov. 2009) are: Matheran Toy train Neral -> Matheran: depart 0730, arrive 0930 depart 0850, arrive 1110 depart 1015, arrive 1210 depart 1215, arrive 1405 depart 1705, arrive 1900 Matheran -> Neral: depart 0700, arrive 0840 depart 0945, arrive 1125 depart 1340, arrive 1520 depart 1445, arrive 1625 depart 1625, arrive 1810 Here is a list of local train timings from Neral back to CST: 0246, 356, 0425, 0517, 0532, 0607, 0654, 0716, 0734, 0808, 0837, 0718, 0954, 1109, 1232, 1331, 1416, 1440, 1553, 1631, 1705, 1729, 1837, 1854, 1954, 2056, 2141, 2223, 2256, 0222. Alternately, there are many share-a-cabs which take you to Matheran from Neral. The distance from Neral to Dasturi Point, last point to which vehicles are allowed in Matheran, is 11 km. The drivers that ply through the roads have immaculate driving skills, so a real advice here is not to keep eyeing the blind turns and foot-to-brake co-ordination, but to just enjoy the breath-taking views as you climb up towards the Dasturi point. Charges are ₹ 60.00 per person as of Oct. 2010. Also make sure you take the rearmost seats as it will provide a relatively more comfortable travel. Once you have left the taxi, you can take a horse ride or get the help of porters to carry luggage up to the town. There is sadly no convenient express train to get back to CST in the evening. You can get a local train from Neral to Karjat (away from Mumbai), and then an express train back from Karjat into Mumbai. But this will take longer than just getting a local train from Neral back into town. By car Cars are not allowed within Matheran. However you can drive up and park your car at Dasturi car point, or take the newly introduced mini bus shuttle from Karjat or Neral railway stations up to Dasturi. From Dasturi you must take a 40 minute horseback or man-pulled rickshaw ride to Matheran along a mud track. Alternately you can walk from Dasturi along the rail line and make your way up to Matheran - 20 minutes to half an hour. The rail track route is slightly shorter, more scenic and very much more comfortable than the rubbly, dusty main road route. Coolies or porters are available at Dasturi to carry your luggage. Remember to negotiate rates in advance. You can also go with group booking or alone. On foot There are several walking trails which ascend the Matheran Plateau. These are used by local people commuting to the hill station as well as the occasional intrepid holiday-maker. From the Eastern side, trekkers start at Neral (see above). You can also approach from the Western side, which has the distinct advantage that you can be in the shade for most of the ascent if you start early in the morning. One route recommended during monsoon starts from the village of Dudhoni and brings you to Sunset Point in Matheran. It is suitable for beginners, and the ascent only takes 2 hours or so. There is apparently a side trip to a waterfall, but I have not done this. Dudhoni can be reached by autorickshaw from Panvel (accessible by bus or central line train). The trail is obvious in most places; when in doubt, ask a local.


Top Attractions

The truth is that almost all the points offer pretty good sunrise, sunset, mountain and valley views, so walk or horse ride or take a rickshaw to whichever you prefer. Remember that the more popular points will be crowded, especially at sunset. Watch out for the aggressive Matheran macaque monkeys who will not hesitate to snatch your belongings especially anything remotely resembling food. Detailed Map of Matheran Some of the popular sights include: Lake Charlotte - a spectacular waterfall overflows from the lake during and shortly after the monsoons. At other times, it is peaceful surrounded by dense evergreen forests, bird song and pretty butterflies. Panorama point - This point is a very beautiful one, for you can see a panoramic view of the hills on the left and a beautiful Ulhas River to the right. This point is quite far from Matheran station / market, but you can negotiate a good price for your travel if you do not feel like walking. This point is perfect for Sunrise and is also called "Sunrise Point." Heart Point - Here one can see a beautiful scene of the valley and this point looks like heart, so it is named so. Monkey Point - Here you can see the monkeys in large numbers and their mischief life-sized. Malang Point Luisa Point - The view from here to the waterfall (run off from Charlotte Lake) during the monsoon is spectacular. Honeymoon Hill - According to locals, a British officer had his honeymoon actually arranged at this point. Also, latter Parsis used to harvest honey at his point, hence its name. Echo Point - True to its name, this point has some superb echo effect! Feel free to scream loud at the point and hear the echo coming from distant places through the valleys. Charlotte Lake Charlotte Lake Lords Point One tree Hill - A unique hill, which has only one big tree growing on it. The way to reach the hill is a bit risky and steep. Olympia - There is a Horse Race-course. Paymasters Park Mount Barry Artist Point Khandala Point- Very close to the Matheran market place. Alexandar Point Rambaug Point Little Chowk Point - Spectacular view and towards the southmost tip of Matheran. Chowk Point - Spectacular view and towards the southmost tip of Matheran. Sunset (Porcupine) Point Garbut Point


Things to do

Due to the prohibition of cars, Matheran is a relatively peaceful place. So walking is an activity that will be richly rewarding, especially for nature lovers, and more so just after the monsoons when wildflowers are in full bloom with their attendant butterflies. When the mass blooming of Karvy or Strobilanthes Callosa takes place, it is a spectacular sight. It is not uncommon to sight Golden Langurs, snakes and the Matheran Giant Squirrels [Ratufa indica elphinstonii]. Apart from the ubiquitous bonnet macaque or aggressive Matheran monkeys There are numerous points all over Matheran, many of which provide some fantastic views of the valley below. While the central area and marked vistas are crowded, it is quite easy to find yourself all alone if you step off the beaten track. There are numerous forested trails leading to most of the points. Wear thick-soled footwear and carry a walking stick for greater comfort as some of the trails are very rubbly, nothing more than dry river beds. Horse riding is also quite a popular way of getting around in Matheran. Finding a horse is not very difficult, as there are many of them around. It is a great way to travel for people who prefer not to walk, but rates must be negotiated in advance. One popular adventure in Matheran is the Valley Crossing from Honeymoon Point to near Louisa Point. It's basically a U-shaped mountain and you have to go from one side to other side (approx. 275 m) hanging on a rope, 300 m above the valley below. This works thanks to 3 ropes, pulleys and gravity. It is a one-way lane, so coming back is by walking or you can ask your horse-man to come to that point to pick you up. It is definitely not for the weak-hearted, but you get a bird's eye view of the valley.