5 most scenic journeys by heritage mountain toy trains of India
The epitome of world-class engineering, the mountain railways were built during the British India Raj between the 19th and 20th century. They run on historic paths carved through the mountains and passing through scenic valleys exposing views of astonishing beauty. Three of the mountain railways in India are given the status of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Kalka–Shimla Railway, and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. It is an experience not to be missed when one plans to be India, especially for photographers and slow travellers who would like to enjoy the scenery. These trains can be booked for individual on the spot and can also be chartered for special group journeys.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
The new Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling toy train on the Darjeeling Himalayan section is not merely a source of delight for the young and old, it also represents the engineering skills of the highest order. This 83 km. section connecting Darjeeling with the railhead at Siliguri is of great importance and has been bestowed a World Heritage Site status. Darjeeling Mountain Railway has Ghoom station, India’s highest railway station at an altitude of 2,257 metres.
Kalka-Shimla Himalayan Railway
The Kalka Shimla Railway line is one of the most popular hill railways in India. The trains running on these tracks are popularly called ‘toy trains’. A journey on this railway is a unique experience as one passes through the breathtaking landscape of the majestic Himalayas through 103 tunnels and over bridges amid the lush green valleys embellished with pine and oak trees.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is 46 Km long and runs on a 1000 mm gauge railway. It connects Mettupalayam to Ooty. The first section of the Nilgiri Railway up to Coonoor was completed in 1899 by the Nilgiri Railway Company and was extended to Ooty in 1903. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is an extension of the World Heritage Site of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
Neral-Matheran Hill Railway
Matheran is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 800 m. amidst shady trees and unpolluted air; the journey to this hilltop is an exciting two hour ascent in a toy train. The Neral-Matheran Hill Railways is one of the most famous attractions of the city, it passes through the amazing mountain tunnels and dense forests of the region. Matheran is a Hill Station nestled in the Western Ghats in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. It is also known as one of the smallest hill stations in India.
Pathankot – Joginder Nagar Railway
The Kangra Toy Train links Pathankot and Joginder Nagar while gently meandering through a maze of hills and valleys, offering the travellers enchantingly scenic views. The work on this line started in 1926 and took nearly three years for a 163 km long route to be opened.