MatheranTracks to be lit up with LED lamps

For a nature lover and one looking for new experiences, Matheran could just be the destination in about a fortnight.

This mountaintop dense forest will have the added attraction of a ride back downhill in the narrow gauge train after a view of the breathtaking sunset. It will be a night safari through the forest and mountains under the security of lights.

The Central Railway which manages this 22 km ride has decided to illuminate the Matheran Light Railway (MLR) track with the latest LED (light emitting diode) lamps to add a new dimension to this tourist spot of heritage importance, though convincing Unesco to grant recognition has become an uphill task.

Generators will be installed to light up the Matheran track in compliance with the directives of the Commissioner of Railway Safety. He had refused to give clearance to run trains after sunset on this 107-year-old route between Neral and Matheran without proper lighting arrangements.

For smooth operation of the LED, a windmill energy system will be put in place. It will keep the track illuminated and provide power to the stations en route and the sleepy township located 800 metres above sea level, set in the forest at the top, as the name suggests — Matheran.

The windmill will be another step towards protecting the ecology of this region. Vehicles are not allowed beyond Aman Lodge station from where one has either to trek or go horse-back or by train alone. Hand-drawn rickshaws are available for local movement.

The township survives on the Railways and this was evident when torrential rains washed away the tracks in 2005. The delay in reviving the loss-making section had pushed the people towards penury. The Railways re-laid the track in 2007 bringing tourists back to the place facing the Western Ghats, and reviving the local economy. The revenue for the Railways is just about Rs. 60 lakh while they spend Rs. 6 crore to operate the two-hour journey that curls through dozens of exhilarating slopes and sets up the challenge of the “one kiss tunnel” to its romantically inclined passengers — that is steal one if you can.

The night running of trains is part of the programme to make the section more viable, stressed Central Railway general manager Subodh Jain, and push the earnings to Rs. 4 crore annually. The track has now been prepared to be used even during the monsoon, unlike in the past, to encourage round-the-year tourism.

Matheran has no blacktop roads; the broad pathways are dusty and rocky — allowing rain waters to percolate and preserve the foliage.

Two factors have come in the way of Unesco granting it world heritage status. After the torrential rains, the steam engine was replaced with a diesel locomotive.

A fortnight ago, the Railways did experiment with the steam engine to fulfil the UN body’s conditions but found it a fire hazard with the grass and tree boughs kissing the train in several places. They caught fire and the Railways decided against reviving the steam engine as it could set off summer forest fires.

The Railway Board intends to again petition the Unesco despite the rejection of its earlier proposal in 2009 to secure world heritage status for this mountain railway.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka-Shimla Railway are now on the World Heritage list since 1999, 2005 and 2008 respectively.

Mr. Jain however maintained that the Railways and other government agencies were taking care of the entire region with commitment, adhering to world norms to maintain the ecology of the hillock irrespective of whether Unesco extends a helping hand or not.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/other-states/matheran-beckons-tourists-for-a-night-safari-of-a-different-kind/article4324270.ece

Another attempt to put Matheran rly on heritage list

Central Railway has decided to revive its efforts to get Matheran Light Rail (MLR) inscribed on the World Heritage List prepared by United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

Matheran was connected with Neral station by constructing a unique two-ft narrow gauge railway track by Abdul Hussain, son of Mumbai-based business tycoon Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy. The construction started in 1904 and the toy train had its first run in 1907. The trains take about two and a half hours to traverse the 19.97-km route with 221 curves.

Asenior railway official said, “MLR, which is in the western ghats, has the credentials to deserve the world heritage site tag as the toy train criss-crosses on a two-ft-wide narrow gauge through the difficult mountainous terrain. Its stations, too, because of their distinct design have an old-world charm.”

“If this happens, it will transform the economy of the tiny hill station, besides bringing Matheran into prominence globally.”
Indian Railways first submitted a proposal for listing of MLR in 2005. However, the 26/7 deluge later that year washed away almost half the tracks. After enormous efforts, CR managed to restore the toy train service, making it re-operational in February 2007. A Unesco team had visited Matheran in 2009, but MLR failed to make a cut.

While the Kalka-Shimla Railway line in the Himalayan Range, which was opened on November 9, 1903, made it to the World Heritage List in 2008, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway too got itself inscribed in the list in 1999. The Nilgiri Mountain railway in the eastern ghats too has found a place in the list.

The official said, “We are keen to run MLR efficiently even though it is a loss-making route. We are trying to reduce the losses by running shuttle services during monsoon and attaching luxury coaches in the train.”

On December 22 last year, 3,099 passengers travelled by the toy trains with CR earning 1.71 lakh in a day, setting a record for mountain railways in India.

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=TOINEW&BaseHref=TOIM/2013/01/06&PageLabel=5&EntityId=Ar00502&ViewMode=HTML

Heritage walk to spread awareness about Kalka-Shimla railway

Shimla, July 5 (ANI): A group of officers and employees of Indian Railways on Sunday began a three-day walk to create public awareness about the Kalka-Shimla railway line in Himachal Pradesh, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Buzz up!Fifteen officers and employees of northern railways set upon the walk through the tracks between Kalka and Shimla to create awareness among the people about the importance of the tracks.

“The main objective of this heritage walk is to create awareness in the public, the travelling passengers and our own staff and officers about the heritage status railway line and to know about the safety aspects, various problems in maintenance of this railway line so that we can improve the bridges, tunnels and other things of this important heritage railway line,” said Nar Singh, a senior railway officer.

Built by the British in 1903, the train has been well greased by the Indian railways to keep it chugging for over a century.

The six-hour journey from Kalka to Shimla takes the train through 107 tunnels and connects a number of hill resorts, including Dharampore, Taksal, Gamma and Solan.

The journey offers the passengers a picturesque view of the Himalayan valleys and the train has become very popular with tourists, not only from India, but also abroad.

“Basically, as you know, the Kalka Shimla line now this is world heritage this has become very important for the whole world from the monitoring point of view. We want to retain it, we want to improve it. It is an important event in my life and in railway’s life,” Y.P. Sing, divisional railway manager Ambala.

The other Indian railway sites -Darjeeling Himalayan toy train, Nilgiri Mountain Railway and Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station are already on the UNESCO list. By Hemanth Chauhan (ANI)

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/07/05/heritagewalk-to-spread-awareness-about-kalka-shimlarai.html

Documentary on Hill railways of India bags UK award

A documentary series on the hill railways in India has won the prestigious Royal Television Society Award of the United Kingdom early this week. The three-part series —shown by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC)— is based on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Niligiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka Shimla Railway. All the three hill railways are the UNESCO world heritage sites.

Of the three films, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was directed by Tarun Bhartiya, a Shillong-based Indian director with an all Indian crew. The other two films, Kalka Shimla Railway and Nilgiri Mountain Railway, were directed by Hugo Smith and Nick Mattingly.

“The hil railways is a metaphor of life in India. The railways are unique in their own way. They flourished during the British Raj and are still running brilliantly. There are so many folk songs based on these trains. Also, the film was shot against the backdrop of the 2009 elections and Gorkhaland agitation,” says Bhartiya. “Culture of the people here is so different than those from the plains,” says Gerry Troyna, the producer of the film.

The film got overwhelming response in UK. “The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has a character called Sita Chetri who is a porter and climbs the hill to make a living for her family of five. A widow, she wants her eldest son to study in the best college in Darjeeling, but the lack of fund makes it difficult. After watching the film, we got several mails from people willing to help her,” adds Troyna.

Troyna has made several films on the Indian Railways. His six-part series on the Great Railway Journeys in the 1980s included his journey from Mumbai to South India. The series got BAFTA nomination for best documentary series. He also won accolades for his series on documentary on the Bombay Railway, Monsoon Railway and Indian Hospital Train-The Lifeline Express.

Constructed by the British for their luxury, these hill railways have now became a lifeline for people in the hills.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/documentary-on-hill-railways-of-india-bags-uk-award/636391/0

Kalka Shimla Railway to be showcased in summer festival

International Shimla summer festival, a popular event organised in Himachal Pradesh annually, has started here from today.

The prime attraction of the exhibition was an over 150-years-old world heritage, Kalka Shimla railway model that would be displayed on the historic Ridge median to woo thousands of tourists and locals.

District Administration Shimla was toiling hard to draw large crowds to make this festival a successful cultural and tourist bonanza.

For this, an internationally renowned Bollywood Art Company, Seven Wonders, has been recruited to design a splendid stage for the event.

CEO of Seven Wonders, Mr Bhardwaj, told UNI that District Administration Shimla had selected them for designing a unique stage for the five-day-long Shimla summer festival after assessing the company’s skills.

The Art Company is said to have constructed the shooting sets for the Bollywood blockbuster, Devdas. “The stage would be designed in a manner so that the artists could make their entry on the stage through a model of Railway bogie to add colour to this event,” Mr Bhardwaj said. The 14×30 ft. size ramp would also have back electric fountain showers along with the moving model of the Shimla Kalka railway line, he added.

International Shimla summer festival, a popular event organised in Himachal Pradesh annually, has started here from today.

The prime attraction of the exhibition was an over 150-years-old world heritage, Kalka Shimla railway model that would be displayed on the historic Ridge median to woo thousands of tourists and locals.

District Administration Shimla was toiling hard to draw large crowds to make this festival a successful cultural and tourist bonanza.

For this, an internationally renowned Bollywood Art Company, Seven Wonders, has been recruited to design a splendid stage for the event.

CEO of Seven Wonders, Mr Bhardwaj, told UNI that District Administration Shimla had selected them for designing a unique stage for the five-day-long Shimla summer festival after assessing the company’s skills.

The Art Company is said to have constructed the shooting sets for the Bollywood blockbuster, Devdas. “The stage would be designed in a manner so that the artists could make their entry on the stage through a model of Railway bogie to add colour to this event,” Mr Bhardwaj said. The 14×30 ft. size ramp would also have back electric fountain showers along with the moving model of the Shimla Kalka railway line, he added.

http://news.webindia123.com/news/ar_showdetails.asp?id=906020217&cat=&n_date=20090602

Published in: on June 3, 2009 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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