Apart from the rich connections with past’s cultures, monuments, and buildings, Heritage Mountain Railways of India are the popular heritage monuments in Indiawhich add to our country’s glamour quotient and draws tourists from across the world.The mountain railways in the hills emerged as a result of the delayed interest evinced during the British Raj for establishing control over the Himalayas and other mountain ranges of India. These trains offer a wonderful traveling experience as they pass through numerous mountain tunnels, over bridges, over curly tracks amid spectacular scenery. The Heritage Mountain Railways of India are not contiguous but consist of three separate railway lines located in different parts of the country; they are The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, The Nilgiris Mountain Railway and The Kalka Shimla Railway.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Built in 1881 over the beautiful hills of Darjeeling, the 2 feet narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway runs between Siliguri and Darjeeling. It is an 88 km long section and climbs up to 7200 feet where Ghum, India’s highest railway station, is situated. The original route made back in 1881 is still maintained in the same way it was back then with very little changes giving it a more antique feeling. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, the Darjeeling Railway was built by the British which is now being operated by Indian Railways. It is an amazing experience to ride on this toy trains powered by a steam engine even today.
Swirling through the lush green rolling hills of lower Himalayas in the state of West Bengal, the journey on Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is one of the entrancing experiences for tourists from all over the world. Also known as Toy Train, this narrow gauge railway passes through thriving tea gardens, several riveting loops and reverses. The route from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling passes over 5 major and approximately 500 minor bridges. Just below Ghum is the Batasia Loop which on a clear day affords a panoramic view of Darjeeling town and spectacular view of Mount Kanchenjunga and the Himalayas.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Ooty is an enchanting hill station situated in Tamil Nadu and also one of the popular honeymoon destinations in India. There are several tourist places to visit in Ooty. Of these, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway that runs from Mettupalayam – Ooty is the most popular one and is listed as World Heritage Site. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a 46 km long and runs on 1000 mm gauge railway. The first section of the Nilgiri Railway up to Coonoor was completed in 1899 AD and was extended to Ooty in 1903 AD during British Raj.
Ooty Toy Train, also known as Nilgiri Mountain Railway Toy Train is one of the prime Ooty sightseeing places. Nilgiri Mountain Railway is the steepest mountain railway in India and is the only railways in India which use a rack and pinion system to climb the steep slopes. The train passes through 16 tunnels, over 250 bridges and around 205 sharp curves, with the magnificent scenery of the Nilgiri Hills along the way. Weaving amidst the forests, dark snaking tunnels, sharp bends, and passing through the stunning gorge, the Toy Train ride in the pleasant Ooty weather is a wonderful experience of lifetime and also one of the best ways to explore Ooty Tourism.
Kalka – Shimla Himalayan Railway
Shimla is a charming hill station in the state of Himachal Pradesh and also one of the top hill stations near Delhi. Better known as the summer getaway for people from all across India, Shimla is blessed with several attractions. Of these, Kalka – Shimla toy train is the most sought after and mesmerizing places to visit in Shimla. The Kalka–Shimla toy train was built by the British in 1903 to provide access to their summer capital of Shimla and has been listed as a UNESCO Heritage site in 2008.
The 96 km train route passes through 102 tunnels, 864 bridges and an incredible 900 curves. There are more than 20 stations in this route. It connects Kalka at an altitude of 656 m to Shimla (2076 m). The longest tunnel 103, which stretches for more than a kilometer, is near the main railway station at Barog. The scenery is simply breathtaking as the train slowly winds its way through the upward track from Kalka to Shimla, through rugged mountains, waterfalls, tunnels and pine forests. The five hour journey is one of the best train journeys operated by Indian Railways. Toy train is the best mode of transport to explore the great Shimla Tourism, as the Shimla weather is pleasant throughout the year.