India By Rail
Joyous Toy Trains of India
Travel by train is a fun and efficient manner to explore the moods of India's soul- its people and the countryside, and then there is the plethora of amazing sights and experiences where you gel vivid snapshots of everyday life - from turbaned shepherds herding waddling buffaloes to children flying kites in breezy coconut groves. With the largest, most comprehensive and efficient rail network of about 40000 miles employing more than a million people and serving several times more each day train travel comes supremely recommended.
The best way to reach Shimla is to travel by Toy train from Kalka. The railway track is small in width between Kalka and Shimla and is known as meter gauge track opened by British Government in the year 1903. The distance of 96 KM between Shimla and Kalka passes through 102 tunnels and 87 bridges. There are more than 20 stations in this railway system which still uses the old Neals Token Instrument system for track interlocking. It connects Kalka at an height of 656 meters to Shimla at 2076 meters from mean sea level. There are around 900 curves and sharpest curve is of 48 degree. The five hour journey is one of the best train journeys for tourist operated by Indian railway.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway starts from the town of Mettupalayam and thus begins a journey full of twists and turns, as this narrow gauge train ascends 46 km, on its way to the hill resort to Ooty. At a maximum speed of 33 km per hour, this 'toy train' treks across plains, plantations and forest clad hills. The 16 tunnel and tall girder bridges on the way, along with the breath-taking view, make this toy train journey to Ooty, something not to be missed.
The most famous of the little trains, is the one linking the town of New Jalpaiguri the plains to the lovely hill station of Darjeeling. With a 2 ft. gauge, the Darjeeling Hill Railway is indeed a 'toy train' being the narrowest of the regular narrow gauges. The tiny century -old engine is connoisseur's delight. The 86 km Darjeeling line has no tunnels, thus allowing the traveller an uninterrupted view of the breath-taking scenery of the Himalayas. The seven and a half hour ride up, is a journey especially for rail buffs.
The 77 year old line, connecting Neral (on main line of Central Railway) to Matheran, is the main way to reach the tiny hill resort, close to Mumbai. As the little train wheezes up into the clear mountain air, one can view the scenic vista of hills and plains below. The lack of vehicular traffic at Matheran makes it an unusual and peaceful retreat.