The family members of Abdul Hussein Adamjee Peerbhoy, the founder of the famous heritage toy train in the hill station of Matheran, have demanded that it be named after the businessman, reformist and philanthropist.
Located 108 kms away from downtown Mumbai and 120 kms away from Pune - and at a height of 2,570 feet – in the Karjat tehsil of Raigad district, Matheran is the smallest hill station of India.
Matheran, which means "forest on the forehead" is an eco-sensitive region and is Asia's only automobile-free hill station. One can do a lot of things here — walk, trek, mountaineering and rock climbing, valley crossing, night trails, bird watching and so on.
Matheran Hill Railway (MHR), the mini train — run by the Central Railway (CR) — covers a distance of 21 kms cutting a swathe through a forest and connecting Neral to Matheran in the Western Ghats.
On December 18, at a commemorative function to mark the 100th death anniversary of Peerbhoy, his grandson Hussain Peerbhoy said that he would be remembered as a great visionary and a true patriot whose life was dedicated to community empowerment and public service.
"The Matheran train line lays credence to the fact that a dream that is nurtured with commitment and hard work has the power to become a legacy to be cherished for generations,” he said.
Peerbhoy's great-grandson Ali Akbar Peerbhoy has now written to CR authorities that the train be rechristened as Peerbhoy Express.
In fact, the Matheran Railway had made it to UNESCO's tentative heritage list for India in December 2005.
The Matheran Light Railway was built between 1901 and 1907 by Peerbhoy and financed by his father, Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy.
"The construction of the Matheran Light Railway was no mean feat at a time when public transport system in the country was in its nascent phase. If the average Indian and the global tourist today can enjoy the cool climes of Matheran and access its natural beauty, it is because of the selfless endeavours and generosity of Abdul Husein Adamjee Peerbhoy” stated MLA Suresh Lad.
Not content with strengthening the transport infrastructure in the then inaccessible hill station, Peerbhoy also built inns and hotels in Matheran to ensure increased tourist footfall to the hill station. His contributions have been instrumental in positioning Matheran as a prime destination on the global tourist map.