Mumbai - Part II - Matheran
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A hundred odd kilometers from Bombay, Matheran is a small hill station on the Western Ghats at an elevation of around 3000ft. It is the only automobile-free hill station in Asia. When we went up the steep slope up to Matheran I had to park my car at a designated lot about a kilometer away. We had to walk the distance over kuchcha roads to get to our guest house.
It was high season for the town and the small township was bustling with visitors. The narrow gauge line which climbs the steep Western Ghats from Neral Jn. steams right into the town to disgorge its passengers. The Light Railway is a little more than 100 years old and yet it missed being selected as a world heritage entity. Perhaps, the want of proper maintenance and irregular runs were the reasons. Nonetheless, the Railways are trying again to get the tag.
As the place is declared as an eco-sensitive zone private automobiles are banned in the town. One has either to walk it or use a horse or even a hand-pulled rickshaw.
About 35 look-out points can keep visitors engaged. Some of them are really breathtakingly beautiful. Walking up to them in the bracing cool climate of the place can be invigorating.
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