Hey, rail enthusiasts! If you have some time to spare, then take a slow toy train up to the hill resorts of Shimla, Ooty (Udhangamandalam), Darjeeling or Matheran.
There is nothing to match the experience of chugging up the hills, past little hamlets and terraced fields, making your way through tunnels and over breathtaking bridges. Its leisurely pace offers you a panoramic view of changing vistas. The invigorating air and the delights of scenic hill resorts provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.So folks ! Are you ready, to start on an out-of-the-ordinary journey up to the hills?
The toy train journey from Kalka to Shimla is entrancing with 107 tunnels and lofty arched bridges. The dazzling view and the stops at the picturesque stations along the way - Dharampore, Taksal, Gamma and Solan, all add up to an exhilarating experience. Shimla is well-connected by a broad gauge line up to Kalka. From Kalka to Shimla, 'the toy train' covers 96-km of track in six hours.
The Shivalik Deluxe Express, chugging its way up the beautiful hill side, connects the Howarh - Kalka mail for passenger going to Shimla. A luxury train, the Shivalik Express has only one stop-Barog, in its 4 hrs 45 minutes journey. The train also has an attached tourist coach called the Shivalik Palace. And, for the honeymoon couples, the Shivalik Queen Coach offers exclusively designed coupes.
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 of Ooty. At a maximum speed of 33-km per hour, this 'toy train' treks across plains, plantations and forest clad hills. The 16 tunnels and tall girder bridges on the way, along with the breathtaking 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 in 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 a connoisseur's delight. The 86-km long Darjeeling line has no tunnels, thus allowing the traveller an uninterrupted view of the breathtaking 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 to mMatheran, is the main way to reach the tiny hill resort, close to Mumbai. As a little train wheezes up into the clear mountain air, on can view the scenic vista of hills and plains below. The lack of vehicular traffic at Matheran makes it an unusual and peaceful retreat. The journey up to Matheran from Neral takes about one-and-a-half hours. The toy train runs between sunrise and sunset.