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India’s Toy Trains

18 July 2011 15 Comments

India’s toy or midget trains are small trains that run on historic railway lines up to a number of the hill stations in India. Although these trains are slow and can take up to eight hours to reach their destinations, they are quite popular among visitors. The mountain scenery is beautiful and makes the journeys really worthwhile.
As per my knowledge there are only four toy trains running in India, one each in four zones and each one of them being special in its own way.
1) East – Darjeeling toy train
The Darjeeling toy train is known as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, takes its passengers through the rolling hills and lush green tea plantations of Darjeeling in east India.
The train route runs for 80 kilometers from New Jalpaiguri, in West Bengal to Darjeeling via Siliguri, Kurseong, and Ghum. The tracks climb up steeply through a number of fascinating reverses and loops, one of them being Batasia Loop between Ghum and Darjeeling. It provides a panoramic view of Darjeeling on the hill with Mt Kanchenjunga in the background. The train also crosses more than 500 big & small bridges.
Fare includes the entrance fee to the Ghoom Museum where it stops for 30 minutes.

2) West – Matheran toy train

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Matheran Toy train !

The Matheran toy train crawls its way in a zigzag manner up the hill from Neral to Matheran & back. Due to the steep slope, it takes around 90 minutes to cover the distance of 20 kilometers. The scenery changes from grassy slopes to shady tree covered hills. You can imagine how slow it moves by looking at food and fruit vendors jumping on and off the train along the way. The train stops at a couple of quaint stations where refreshments can be purchased as well. It also passes through one short tunnel interestingly named “One Kiss Tunnel“.

3) North – Kalka Shimla toy train
The midget train which takes us to back in time is Kalka-Shimla train. The distance is 96 kilometers through more than 100 tunnels & 800 bridges. The longest tunnel which is more than a kilometer, is near the main railway station at Barog. The captivating train route provides one of the most scenic train journeys in India and cheers up passengers. It gradually winds its way up along the steep narrow track through mystical mountains, pine forests and plenty of fascinating sights.

4) South – Nilgiri Mountain Train
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway toy train is the highlight of a visit to the hill station Ooty, in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. Do you know this historic railway line was completed 45 years after the first plans were drawn up and the steam engine was made in Switzerland ? The engine is usually changed for a diesel one at Coonoor to provide greater traction for the steep climb to Ooty.
The blue train runs from Metupalaiyam to Udagamandalam (Ooty) via Coonoor, in the Nilgiri Hills. The track is 46 kilometers long through 16 tunnels and tall girder bridges. This journey is picturesque because of the surrounding rocky terrain, tea plantations, and forested hills. Coonoor, with its world famous teas, is a tourist destination in itself.

I have experienced two of these journeys. What about you ?
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15 Comments »

  • Anu said:

    have only been on the ooty train. unfortunately, the time for Matheran never seems to come!
    Anu´s last [post] ..Anegundi Part 5 – Pampa Sarovar

  • sandeep said:

    gr8 post … and i luved that 1st pic :)
    sandeep´s last [post] ..Lights, Action … Camera …

  • We Cognize said:

    I haven’t enjoyed anyone of them, I have just seen them !:( But I love them and waiting for the day when I will get to ride one :)

  • Samaresh Biswal said:

    wow nisha thats nice , didnt know i will start from the list
    Samaresh Biswal´s last [post] ..Tataguni Roerich Estate

  • connie said:

    I wish I could say I have been on one of these four trains – it would be like a dream come true. For some reason I love train travel – the slower the better :) ….I’ve been on the longer train rides in India but not these ‘toy trains’- this is a reason for me to return :)
    connie´s last [post] ..missing in action

  • Sudha said:

    I haven’t travelled on any of them. :-( Though I hope to remedy that with a visit to Matheran once the monsoons get over.
    Sudha´s last [post] ..The Lord’s Tour: A visit to the home of cricket

  • CooperJal said:

    Great blog on Indian history.

  • Sudhir said:

    I love Trains, So does my son. We tried our best to get a seat on the darjeeling rail last month, but they were all booked. let me try the Nilgiri train. Good post

  • Mohini Puranik said:

    Loved the post…….great I love trains.
    Mohini Puranik´s last [post] ..Love Patriotism

  • Nirvaan said:

    have boarded two of them.the east one and the south..:)
    Nirvaan´s last [post] ..Coffee on my table..!!

  • obsessivemom said:

    The score’s three for me.. darjeeling, matheran and Shimla.. is this the one that goes through Solan? Never thought of the four zones thing. Interesting. Must complete the foursome .. Nilgiri’s on my travel list :-) .
    obsessivemom´s last [post] ..Bright as day

  • Anuradha said:

    I have experienced the matheran and ooty trains. there’s a smaller toy train at National Park, Mumbai. loved that!
    Anuradha´s last [post] ..Mega Block timings today

  • Amie said:

    These “toy” trains look like so much fun to ride. In the U.S. toy trains is a term that refers to actual toys as opposed to a real train. If I ever make it to India, I want to ride one of these toy trains.

  • Matheran, a hill station near Mumbai | Mahindra Homestays said:

    [...] me is the toy train which is an attraction in itself for the visitors of Matheran. It is one of the four toy trains in India. Due to the steep slope, it takes around 90 minutes to cover the distance of 20 kilometers. The [...]

  • Nisha (author) said:

    And I traveled in some more toy trains. :)

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