The Raj-era hill station of Matheran, 108km east of Mumbai, is set on a narrow north–south ridge at an altitude of 800m in the Sahyadri Range. From evocatively named viewpoints, at the edge of sheer cliffs that plunge into deep ravines, you can see way across the hazy plains – on a good day, so they say, as far as Mumbai. The town itself, shrouded in thick mist for much of the year, has, for the moment, one unique attribute: cars, buses, motorbikes and auto-rickshaws are banned. That, added to the journey up, on a miniature train that chugs its way through spectacular scenery to the crest of the hill, gives the town an agreeably quaint, time-warped feel.

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