The railways in India are a legacy of the British era and their innovative approach. Out of the remarkable achievements of Indian railways, the establishment of narrow gauge mountain railways remains the most important inventions of its times.
The good aspect of these 19th century marvels here is that they are still running parallel in tune with modern times. The original steam engines are still a part of India's living heritage as mountain railways of India; pulling tourists from over the world towards the quaint hill stations.
Recognized as a world heritage site for their outstanding contribution to the mankind, these special tourist railways are a prized jewel of the country. Given the tough terrain during the British colonial times, these mountain rails are still considered a living example of innovation.
The narrow rail lines are seen as a link between the plains and the summer retreats or hill stations. Spiralling around the mighty hills, these special railways wind through a rugged yet charming mountainous terrain; allowing tourists to cherish the scenic vistas of the Himalayas. Fondly, these mountain railways of India are addressed as toy trains.
Of the four popular mountain railway routes in India, Darjeeling Himalayan railways are the most famous way to discover this isolated hill station. Believed to be the first toy train of the country, this quaint rail line connects the plains of New Jalpaiguri to the dreamy hill station of Darjeeling.
In fact, a tour to Darjeeling is considered incomplete if a tourist doesn’t hop inside this toy train. Such is the enigma of this passenger mountain railway tour. This timeless journey is undoubtedly the lifeline of Darjeeling, assisting the long distance transportation for tourists and locals.
With a 2 ft gauge, Darjeeling mountain railway is undoubtedly the narrowest of the regular narrow gauges. The 86 km Darjeeling line has no tunnels; therefore the continuous views of the breathtaking Himalayan scenery are assured for the tourists, especially rail buffs. Laid out at 2128 m above sea level, this railway line gasps its way through a track based on wide loops and zigzags; which is undoubtedly a great innovation of the British era.
Running parallel to the road and local marketplaces, this steam run rail is a part of Darjeeling’s life; lending the hill station an undulated charm. During its passage, the steam run rail crosses Ghoom, the second highest railway station in the world at an altitude of 2258 m which is indeed an achievement for a coach more than a centenary old.
Besides this, the toy train tour allows a tourist to spot on the unexplored natural beauty of Darjeeling. Though every scene from the window of this dreamlike toy train is a naturally bestowed painting; still of all the scenic attractions, Batasia Loop stands out. Here, tourists can see the nature's best-kept scenery around a spiral loop route of railways. The passengers here can enjoy the panoramic views of the highest Indian mountain, Kanchendzonga and other snowy mountains in the backdrop amidst the bountiful blooms and floral meadows.
Truly, the Eastern Himalayan railway is a dreamy route to Darjeeling, where the fantasies of toy train tour India comes alive. This is indeed a luxury of its own where travellers get to see the unseen natural vistas on this glorious heritage trail.