Trains, the train stations, the railroad tracks, signals, railways crossing as a matter of fact anything to do with train transport, makes me nostalgic. My father worked with Indian Railways, and I practically grew up with very close association to trains, traveled the length and breadth of India on them. Till date, I miss no opportunity to travel by the train.
India has largest train network of broad, meter and narrow gauge tracks which transports about 23 million passengers a day.This post highlights Mountain/Hill railways of India, sometimes referred as Toy Trains.
Kalka Shimla Train (Himalayan Railway) – One of the most used and the popular hill railways in India, which runs daily service(s) between Kalka and Shimla. The train covers 96 milometer journey passing through 103 tunnels, over 850 bridges and breathtaking landscape in more or less 5 hours. The first ever “Rail Motor Car” was introduced on this route, offering luxurious and private travel option between these two stations. The width of the track is 2’6”.
New Jalpaiguri Darjeeling Train (Darjeeling Mountain Railway) – This 83 kilometer long route, connecting Darjeeling with Siliguri has been rewarded as World Heritage Site status. The train follows Hill Cart Road, which is the national highway leading to Darjeeling. Being at very high altitude, and steepness of the climb, engineers designed “loops” and “Z-Reverses” which are the example of outstanding innovation.
The Darjeeling Mountain Railway features Ghum station, India’s highest railway station at an altitude of 2,257 meters. The train passes through famous “Batasia Loop” where one can enjoy panoramic views of Darjeeling town with the backdrop of Mount Kanchenjunga. The Darjeeling Mountain Railways daily run 2 tourist train services between Darjeeling and Ghum. The width of the track is 2”
In 1969 a romantic song, “Mere Sapno Ki Rani” from the movie “Aradhana” was filmed featuring Darjeeling Mountain Railways.
Mettupalayam to Ooty Train (Nilgiri Mountain Railway) – This 46 kilometer long route & 5 hour journey, with 16 tunnels and 250 bridges, connects Mettupalayam to Ooty offering magnificent views of the eastern slopes of Nilgiri Mountain Range. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is an annex to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The Nilgiri Mountain Railways daily run 4 tourist train services between Ooty and Coonoor. The width of the track in 3’2”.
The famous Hindi song “Chaiyya Chaiyya” from the film “Dil Se” was filmed on the rooftop of Nilgiri Mountain Railway.
Pathankot to Jogindernagar (Kangra Valley Railway) – A 9 hour journey, 163 kilometer route from Pathankot to Jogindernagar, offers splendid sights of hills & valleys and the longest hill tunnel. Mangwal to Kangra stretch is the most picturesque part of this journey. Upon reaching Palampur the passengers start seeing the background of snowy peaks as the track runs parallel to the Dhaulandar range. The width of the track is 2’6”.