Matheran’s toy train still draws a crowd

Attempts have bene made to put it on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Last Updated 30 November 2020, 09:42 IST

The toy train in Matheran, one of its kind in Maharashtra, continues to draw a huge crowd in Asia’s one and only automobile-free hill station.

As of now, the train runs just two km between Matheran and Aman Lodge stations as the rest of the tracks of the total 21 km are being repaired due to heavy damages during the monsoons.

The entire narrow-gauge (two feet) route of Matheran Hill Railway has five stations -- Neral, Jumapatti, Water Pipe, Aman Lodge and Matheran – and it passes through forests and hills which are part of the Sahyadri ranges of Western Ghats.

Located near Karjat in Raigad district, Matheran -- at an elevation of 800 mts (2,625 ft) -- is nearly 100 km off downtown Mumbai.

Administered by the Mumbai-headquartered Central Railway (CR), in the past, there have been attempts to put it on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

“It is always a thrilling experience getting into the train,” said Mumbai-based writer and analyst Abhijit Mulye, who had gone on umpteen trekking missions to Matheran. “The hill station is unique and offers a great view,” he said, adding that for tourists, a trip on the train is a must.

Since no vehicles are allowed except for a solitary ambulance, one has to walk from Aman Lodge to Matheran. The majority of the tourists prefer to walk along the track – which too is a very good experience.

According to Tista Bhowmick, in Matheran, "If you have not boarded the toy train, you have missed something. The nearly 10-minute journey takes you back a century,” she says.

The Neral–Matheran Light Railway was built between 1901 and 1907 by Abdul Hussein Adamjee Peerbhoy and financed by his father, Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy, at a cost of Rs 16 lakh. The consulting engineer was Everard Calthrop.

The train was initially hauled by a steam engine but now it is a diesel engine.

The original steam engine is preserved for display and is a popular selfie point in the hill station.

(Published 30 November 2020, 09:04 IST)

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