Remember the iconic ‘Mere sapno ki rani’ song from the movie Aaradhana where the beautiful Sharmila Tagore sits in a carriage and Rajesh Khanna is wooing her from his Jeep. The song captured million of hearts with the enchanting camera and of course the chemistry between lead pair.
The carriage in which Sharmila sits is the famous ‘toy train’, officially known as Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which along with the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka-Shimla Railway, is listed as a Mountain Railways of India World Heritage Site. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in the year 1999.
The breath-taking railway with its technological superiority has been one of the most cherished treasures of India. In fact, people who visit Darjeeling always dream of the ‘Toy train’ first and then only think of the hill station.
History of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
This historical railway was built way back in 1881, as the British searched for an effective transport system across the scenic hills of Darjeeling. Gillanders Arbuthnot & Co. was the company which constructed the railway. Initially the line was from Siliguri to Kurseong and it was extended to Darjeeling. This elegant beauty survived two major calamities, an earthquake in the year 1897 and a major cyclone in 1899. During World War II, the DHR served as a means of transport to both soldiers and supplies.
Route of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
The track is a narrow gauge (just 2 feet) so that the toy train can traverse in the narrowest possible turns in the hills. In many places railway track and road are side by side. Usually engine drivers horn to warn the people on roads.
The train starts from New Jalpaiguri and ends with Darjeeling town. The highest station (at an altitude of about 7,400 feet) is Ghum. Most significant parts of the tracks are ‘Loops’ and ‘Zig-zags or Reverses’. A loop is a part where the train skirts around the mountain to gain heights. A reverse is a part where the train goes back and forth so that it climbs.
Majestic snow-capped Kanchenjunga, panoramic views of nature, enchanting waterfalls, thick forests, amazing hills, deep valleys. Everything is exhilarating and picturesque when you sit in the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and look out. Visiting Darjeeling is a marvellous experience and travelling in the DHR is something which supersedes every other joy. If you are planning a trip to this hill station, don’t miss the ride by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
It is a ride of a lifetime for sure. Just sit in the carriage and marvel at the technology, lose yourself in the alluring Himalayan Mountains.
Nearby Resort: Sterling resorts in Darjelling
Distance from Darjeeling – Silver Oaks : 37.9 km, 42 mins