MUMBAI: Matheran is a famous hill station near Mumbai. Among the main attractions of this hill station is the ‘Toy Train’, which operates between Neral, the local railway station on central line at the foot, to hill station Matheran.
This Neral-Matheran railway was built by famous Bohra-Muslim Peerbhoy Family. Sir Adamji Peerbhoy financed the rail project, while his son, Abdul Hussain Adamji Peerbhoy built it at a cost of Rs. 16 lakh in 1907.
A British officer named Hugh Poyntz Malet, who was the then collector of Thane district, discovered Matheran in the year 1850. It was later developed & converted into a summer time hill station by the British Government.
In May 1850, Lord Elphinstone, the then Governor of Bombay province laid the foundation stone of development of Matheran as a hill station, which was connected to Neral town based at base of the hill.
The tar-road to Matheran from Neral discontinues at Dasturi Naka, a point which is 9 km away from the main land. Beyond this point, no motor vehicles are allowed except ambulances and police vehicles. This was done to save the environment and maintain the status of Matheran as a natural Sanatorium.
Peerbhoy family used to visit Matheran & had their properties at this hill station well before the British discovery. Thus, the Peerbhoy Family offered to buid narrow guage railway line from Neral to Matheran for the British government. Thus another mode of transport in Matheran came into existence in 1907.
This narrow gauge track is 2 ft 610 mm wide. This railway covers a distance of 20 km along the zig-zag curves of the mountain. UNESCO in 2009 declared Matheran Hill Station Railway as UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. Located between Mumbai and Pune and being a cooler, less humid elevated site, Matheran is a popular destination for tourists.