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Nazish Khan Jul 29 2015

Mountain Railways in India

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The mountain railways in India are a sign of style over speed, fun over convenience and is testimony to the adage, the journey is as important as the destination. Come, hop on for the most memorable joyride ever. .

1. Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway that chugs at about 10.4 km per hour is made for those who are not in a hurry. Perhaps, the slowest train in the whole of India, it connects Ooty to Mettupalayam, which lies at the foothills of the Nilgiris. It's one of the rare trains which still runs on locomotive engines built by Swiss Locomotive Works.


Photo of toy train

It takes around 5 hours to reach Ooty from Mettupalayam, wherein you cross the verdant landscapes of Coonoor, Hill Grove, Runnymede, Kateri, Wellington, Aruvankadu, Ketti and Lovedale. It's the train ride for a lifetime, with rice fields and tea estates running alongside.

Route: Mettupalayam-Coonoor-Ooty
Fare: INR 500 for first class and INR 250 for II class.

2. Kalka-Shimla Toy Train

How about taking the delightful Kalka-Shimla Toy Train on your next trip to Shimla for a hatke experience? Well, I am sure you can’t say no to the idea.


Kalka Shimla Toy Train

The train starts from Kalka at a slow, meandering gait never picking up speed over 30 km per hour. Covering places like Dharampur, Barog and Solan, the train chugs through 102 tunnels, offering you amazing views of the hillsides and villages. With all that the train ride has to offer, it is definitely one of the most scenic rail journeys in India.

Route:Kalka-Shimla
Fare: Himalayan Queen INR 245; Shivalik Deluxe Express is plusher and costs INR 330 including water and food.

3. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

When built in the late 19 century, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was something of a technological marvel. Its tracks rose from sea level to an altitude of 7, 545 ft in just about 70 km. The engineers devised many zig-zags, reverses and loops to overcome these hurdles, but the most famous one is the Batasia Loop, where the train does a complete figure-of-8 along the track.


Darjeeling Toy train

If you haven’t taken this train up to Darjeeling--a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can always take a short joyride from Darjeeling Station to Ghoom Monastery. And if you want to see just the Batasia Loop, drive to the well-maintained gardens in and around the loop to watch the train turn.


Darjeeling Toy Train

Route: New Jalpaiguri-Mahanadi-Kurseong-Ghoom-Batasia Loop-Darjeeling
Fare: INR 605 per person in first class

4. Matheran Hill Railways

One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in India, Matheran Hill Railways offer a unique experience as it goes through tunnels on mountains surrounded by lush greenery and sweeping views of the adjoining areas.


Matheran Toy train (photo by Amboeing747 at en.wikipedia)

The zig-zags and tunnels add a dash of excitement to the ride in these trains. It normally takes more than 2 hours to complete a distance of 21 kilometres. The journey starts from Neral to Matheran and vice versa, with trains operating at various time intervals. Normally, there are 4 pairs of train which run between these two points, however during monsoon (July to September), only one pair of train is functional.

Route: Neral-Matheran
Fare: It starts from INR 50 per person for general class.

5. Kangra Valley Railway

Unlike the Shimla or Ooty toy trains, the narrow gauge Kangra Railway is not your regular hill-station train, taking holidaymakers in first class carriages. It’s a boon for local passengers, mostly villagers who use the service because it’s more convenient than the bus. Unmatched views are guaranteed, finding a seat is not!


Photo by ChanduBandi

Route: Pathankot -Palampur-Jogindernagar
Fare: INR 27 for ordinary trains and INR 190 for Kangra Queen (Second Class; Chair car: INR 310; 1st class: INR 330)

These mountain railways in India make for interesting travel, only recommended for die-hard train buffs and for the lovely slow-motion views.

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