The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as ‘Toy Train’, is a one of its kind experience as the tracks meander through the high hills of the Himalayas and lush tea plantations. A ride aboard this unique train is a must if you are travelling towards the tea capital of India.
Here are some interesting and useful facts you need to know about it:
It is the oldest hill railway of India
Constructed in 1881, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway(DHR) is the oldest hill railway of India and among the oldest in the world as well. The narrow-gauge(2 feet) railway extends between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, covering a distance of over 80 kilometres. Once a summer retreat of the British, Darjeeling was frequented by the British officers and their families who had to undertake an arduous road journey from Kolkata to reach their destination. The DHR was conceptualised to provide convenient access to the place.
DHR is UNESCO heritage site
A perfect example of architectural and engineering excellence, the railway was declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO in the year 1999. The coveted title had only been bestowed upon one railway before DHR, the Semmering Railway of Austria. Now that’s an achievement! The marvellous track passes through 14 stations, over 500 bridges and forms incredible loops and ‘z’ reverses that make one reflect on the sheer genius behind the planning of the railway. UNESCO has laid down very specific criteria for inclusion of a historical monument into the list and it is not surprising that DHR fulfilled them all.
Ghoom, an en route station is the highest one in India
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway toy train meets up with 14 stations along its entire route. One of the stations is Ghoom, which happens to be the highest railway station in the country at an altitude of almost 7400 feet. The station houses a rail museum on the first floor. The train halts at this station for half an hour and the rail fare includes the museum entry fee. It is definitely worth your time to step down and have a look inside the museum, the biggest attraction of which is the oldest baby engine known as Baby Sivok. Ghoom is also famous for its 19th century monastery and the Batasia loop. There is a lot to see in Ghoom and you may plan staying over a couple of nights. A very modern, comfortable and tranquil resort by Sterling lies just near the monastery.
A lot of history with a touch of romance
Darjeeling is known to be one of the best honeymoon destinations in India and the a ride in the toy train along with your better half is a must visit. Built in the 19th century under the British colonial rule, there are a lot of stories associated with the construction of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, some true and some simply hearsay. One such story if of the incident wherein the contractor responsible for the construction of the railway was frustrated over the narrow areas where loops were impossible to build. He confided the same in his wife to which she replied, ’’If you cannot go forward, why don’t you move back?’’ She referred to his returning to England but the contractor took it as a literal inspiration and came up with the idea of zig-zag tracks. I don’t know if the story is true or false but is definitely interesting!
Booking the Toy Train is very simple
The Toy Train can be booked through the Indian Railway reservation counters and online website likewise. As it undoubtedly a much-coveted tourist attraction, the seats fill up real quick and it is therefore, wise to book well in advance.
- The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway departs from New Jalpaiguri at 8:30 am and arrives at Siliguri at 4:00 pm.
- The fare is Rs. 1285 for the entire one-way journey in the first-class category coaches which have individual reclining seats.
- Besides the main train service, there are shorter joy rides and jungle safaris too.
- The fare for joy-ride is Rs. 800 for first class seats in diesel engine train and Rs. 1300 for first class seats in steam engine trains.
- The train can even be booked for private parties and celebrations.
- Additional coaches are added to the train during the peak tourist season.
It definitely sounds like an experience not to be missed, right? Wait, there is more! The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway also sends you a certificate via post that validates your travel aboard the Toy Train. Book your journey now and flaunt the certificate!
While you are in Darjeeling, So book a reservation at Khush Alaya, and bring out the romantic side in you with our serene atmosphere and beautiful ambience in the midst of the chilly hill station of Darjeeling!