You got up thinking you’ve to go with your father for his work to some place about 100 kms near Mumbai. You might always be yawning when it comes to support your dad for his work which don’t interest you. Same was the condition for me till my father said one word where we are going. Matheran. Believe it or not, hearing the name Matheran I super quickly got ready to my parents surprise. But Matheran deserves it. The nearest railway station is Neral in the Central Railway line which is on Kalyan-Karjat route. From Mumbai, you can take local train till Neral costing you around 15 bucks one-way. From Neral, you have two ways to reach Matheran. First of all, the world-famous toytrain that takes about two hours to reach Matheran costing you about 75 bucks per head. But toy-train runs very slowly. Word ‘Run’ is an exaggeration for toy-train. You can say it crawls fast. However, don’t be disappointed because there’s a reason for its slow speed. You can enjoy each and every view of Sahyadri mountains that comes every step to the fullest. That’s why its specially made run slow for your greatest viewing experience. The hills & valleys that it crosses during its two hour run is just indescribable When you look at those beautiful mountains around you, your breath goes “wow” automatically. The freshness of air will make your mind fresh & the atmosphere gets cooler with the altitude it gains. You will see the beauty of nature at its best while crossing the ghats. If you blink an eye, you’ll feel you have missed something to watch because everything around you will be so pure, fresh and unadulterated nature. Be it the deep gigantic valleys, or the fading horizon among clouds, the lush green trees, the beautiful sounds of bird’s tweet (Well, actual tweet, stay away twitter), you feel you are born for this only. The rocks, the streams, lakes and many more landscapes welcome you at the doorstep of Matheran. Wait! You are still not in Matheran, but you feel the aura of that tiny hill-station in your now-blossoming blood. But during monsoon period, this toy-train remains shut for full four months as the route is not suitable for moist travel. So precaution-wise, Matheran has to be reached by roadways during June to September i.e. Indian Monsoon season.
So you can opt for a second way that is road travel. It takes you to your destination much faster. But there is a stop-point between your journey to Matheran by road. Matheran is claimed to be the smallest and cleanest hill-station in India. To prevent pollution, no vehicle is allowed in Matheran. The only transport you find there is horses and hand-pulled auto rickshaws. Only Matheran Hill Muncipal Corporation-owned ambulance is operated in Matheran. So all the travellers by road have to stop at Dasturi, a village about 5km near Matheran, where you need to buy a permit to visit Matheran costing you 50 bucks per head. From Neral, one can find taxis taking you to Dasturi which cost you around 70 bucks till Dasturi. Then you have to buy a ticket of 50 bucks as said earlier to enter Matheran. You have to walk about 5 kms on foot from Dasturi to reach Matheran, do not worry you’ll not be alone, there will be many fellow tourists and lot of monkeys. Be cautious of eating food in front of monkeys, they can snatch your food and run away but don’t get afraid they will not harm you. There are also horse services if you don’t wish to walk that costs you 200 bucks more. But trust me, watching the superb scenery is worth walking. Once you reach Matheran, you’ll see cottages & hotels where you can stay. Every hotel has its own pricing depending upon your luxuries. Well, outside Neral station only, you’ll find travel and hotel agents of Matheran. You could book at Neral only and stay at your desired hotel once you are in Matheran. The cheapest hotels charge around 500 bucks per room per day. Food charges extra. I don’t think you’ll be interested in eating once you reach Matheran because there are lots of points to see.
At your hotel only, ask for a Matheran map and you can travel the entire Matheran on foot. It’s really small. But if you get tired easily, you can hire horses plenty around. They charge you around 70 bucks per point but I advise you to travel by foot. Matheran is a small locality like any lane in your area and that’s it. Most people there earn as tourist guides and there are some shops in Bazar Peth, where you can buy some chikkis and take away to your homes. If you don’t eat a chikki in Matheran, it’s an insult to Matheran tourism. Get yourself ready for various points there, sunset point, monkey point, echo point etc. In one day you can’t see all of them, you need at least three days to enjoy all the beautiful points. You feel you are in clouds when you stand at those points. The line that connects sky and earth is hardly seen because there is so much fog around.
So if you want to enjoy the magnificient Matheran, you need to have around 3000 bucks per head to enjoy Matheran to the fullest. Don’t worry, Matheran is pollution free and you’ll be refreshed as ever you can be. So next time you plan an outing, Matheran should be top of your list.