The popular and prestigious Neral-Matheran toy train has made a remarkable comeback during this year’s Diwali.
The Neral-Matheran Toy Train, which is over 100 years old, is one of the few mountain trains in India.
Nestled in the Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats, Matheran in Raigad district is an eco-sensitive region and Asia’s only car-free hill station.
Among the attractions here is the Neral-Matheran narrow gauge railway.
The Central Railway (CR) had to close services between Neral and Matheran – a distance of around 21km – as heavy rain destroyed the tracks in 2019.
However, the CR continued to operate services between Matheran and Aman Lodge, a distance of approximately 2 km.
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From October 23, coinciding with the Diwali festivities, the CR restarted full-scale operations between Neral and Matheran.
“The Neral-Matheran toy train carried 3,700 passengers and recorded revenue of Rs 4.81 lakh in just 9 days,” CR officials said.
“The railway popularizes this place not only as a major tourist destination, but also as a place close to nature. It offers the thrill of watching nature up close with a memorable ride on the little train, allowing one to immerse oneself in the serenity of Matheran’s natural surroundings,” officials noted.
Matheran, which means “forest on the forehead”, was discovered in May 1850 by Hugh Poyntz Malet, then collector of the Thane district. Lord Elphinstone, then Governor of Bombay, laid the foundations for the development of a future hill station. The British developed Matheran as a popular resort to beat the summer heat in the region. The Matheran Hill Railway, a popular toy train, was built in 1907 by Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy.
Many things can be done in Matheran – walking, hiking, mountaineering and rock climbing, valley crossings, night trails, bird watching, etc.