The century old Matheran Hill Railway deposits passengers amongst the shady greenery of the peaceful, pollution free hill settlement of Matheran
-- where all vehicles are banned, even bicycles. The toy train is one of four historic toy train services
currently operating in India. The railway was founded by Mumbai based entrepreneur Abdul Hussain Peerbhoy and had its first run in 1907, after three years spent constructing the train line.
Matheran Toy Train Route:
The toy train crawls its way, in a zigzag manner, 20 kilometers (12 miles) up the hill from Neral to Matheran. Due to the steep slope, it takes over two hours to cover the distance. Gradually the scenery changes from grassy slopes to shady, tree covered hills. Food vendors selling a range of snacks and cold drinks jump on and off the train along the way -- usually while it's moving, which is an indication of just how slow it travels! The train stops at a couple of quaint stations, where refreshments can be purchased as well. It also passes through one short tunnel, interestingly named "One Kiss Tunnel".
Matheran Toy Train Services:
Four identical miniature sized toy trains run along the route. The trains are small, with a capacity of around 100 people. If you feel like having a relaxing and relatively comfortable journey, book a seat in first class, where you'll get a padded seat in a cozy compartment.
Matheran Toy Train Timetable:
The toy train departs from Neral in the mornings at 9.00 a.m and 10.30 a.m. There's also an afternoon departure at 5 p.m.
Coming back to Neral, the train leaves Matheran at 7 a.m., 1.50 p.m. and 4.30 pm.
However, the timetable changes frequently so it's best to check it at an Indian Railways computerized reservation counter or Indian Railways timetable. In addition, during the monsoon season (from June to September), the toy train runs much less frequently. Depending on the weather, the service is reduced to only one departure a day and sometimes doesn't run at all.
Matheran Toy Train Cost:
The train fare is 36 rupees (75 cents) in second class and 210 rupees ($4.50) in first class, one way.
Matheran Toy Train Reservations:
Reservations for travel on the toy train can be made at Indian Railways computerized reservation counters, or on the Indian Railways website
. It's advisable to book in advance, as the train fills up very quickly.
Here's how to make a reservation on the Indian Railways website. The station code for Neral is NRL, and Matheran MAE. Keep in mind that there's also a place near Mumbai called Nerul, so don't get the two confused!
Matheran Toy Train Travel Information:
The morning toy train departure times from Neral are supposed to tie in with the Indian Railways Deccan Express (departs Mumbai CST at 7.10 a.m. and reaches Neral at 8.38 a.m) and Koyna Express (departs Mumbai CST at 8.40 a.m. and reaches Neral at 10.03 a.m) services. However, in reality the toy train will often depart before these trains arrive, especially if they're late. Therefore, you should allow plenty of time when traveling.