Be it Shimla, Darjeeling or Ooty, experiencing a toy train ride at least once in your lifetime is a must. Also known as the Mountain Railways of India, these trains typically run on narrow gauge tracks with small engines. That’s why they are called toy trains.
These trains are neither superfast nor do they have a lot of luxurious options. Yet toy trains have that old-world charm that is hard to replicate. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey itself! Feel the wind on your face as the toy train chugs through pristine forests, hillocks and meandering valleys as you soak in the lush greenery and fresh air!!
The brainchild of British engineering, toy trains were discovered between the 19th and 20th centuries and have since gained popularity rapidly among the masses. Carving out railway tracks to travel in the mountains is a genius move and is one of the best engineering solutions till date. In fact, three of the present toy train routes in India are considered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites- Darjeeling Himalayas Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railways and Nilgiri Mountain Railways.
Now, let’s take a look at the top10 toy train journeys in India. You can book these exciting toy traintrips from Easemytrip Flight Appataffordable prices from the comforts of your home.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, West Bengal
Darjeeling is one of the oldest train routes that have been operating since 1881. This train runs from NewJalpaiguri to Darjeeling, in a span of 7 hours. The only station it halts enroute is at the quaint Ghum station which is the highest railway station in India located at an altitude of 7000 feet.
As the train meanders through scenic valleys and rolling hills, feel the cool wind against your face and soak in the beauty Mother Nature has to offer. As you cover this 80km journey, you pass through 505 bridges. The train itself seems like a blast from the past as it runs on a steam engine. Cross quaint criss-cross valleys and hordes of tea plantations after which you finally arrive at your destination.
Kalka Shimla Railways, Himachal Pradesh
Experience the beauty of Himachal Pradesh unfold before your eyes as you take this 96km train ride passing through numerous rail stations, bridges and curves and yes a LOT of tunnels! Be prepared for 5 hours of absolute bliss as you pass through verdant valleys lined by pristine pine and oak trees while having Kalka to Shimlatrip.
Stop at Barog station enroute where you can enjoy the chilly weather and have some piping hot tea with samosas. Sounds perfect, ain’t it? As you move on, you reach Solan with a completely different vibe than Barog. Solan is home to military base camps and army distilleries. The scenery changes like a cinema every moment. There is no place for boredom!
This route was constructed in 1903 as an easy way for British rulers to reach the erstwhile summer capital. You cross around 20 railway stations, 103 tunnels, 800 bridges and 900 curves. A little fun fact- Tunnel No 103 is believed to be haunted!! Eerie right??
Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Ooty, Tamil Nadu
If you are planning to visit Ooty, don’t forget to take this ride! It is one of the major attractions. A short train ride of 5 hours, this ride starts from Mettupalayam and ends at Udagamandalam, commonly known as Ooty.
Established in 1908, this train ride takes you through thick forests and hillocks as you meander through lush green valleys, ravines and steep curves. As you pass through numerous bridges and tunnels, the tea gardens at Coonoor will welcome you heartily.
A very unique feature of the Nilgiri Mountain Railways is the use of rock and pinion technology which is one of the oldest technologies but is fully operational to this day.
Matheran Hills Railway, Maharashtra
Inaugurated in 1907, the Matheran Hills Railways runs through the Western Ghats as you pass through lush meadows and verdant valleys for a distance of roughly 21kms. Matheran is a pollution free city as cars and bikes are banned there.
Breathe in the fresh air as you embark on your 21/2 hours of journey from Neral located between Matheran and Pune. As your train slowly ascends through the zigzag tracks along the Western Ghats, you can sit back and relax while soaking in the serene atmosphere.
Kangra Valley Railway, Himachal Pradesh
It’s an extremely popular train that runs along a stretch of 164 kms between Pathankot in Punjab and Joginder Nagar in Himachal Pradesh. In fact, this is the longest mountain railways route in India.
As you cross the beautiful Dhauladharmountains, the panoramic view of nature will leave you spellbound. Enroute you pass through several bridges and tunnels. Completed in 1929, this was the last mountain railways built by the British. As you start nearing the end of your journey, you can see large snow-capped peaks in the horizon. Soak in the pristine atmosphere as this train takes you on a magical journey.
Some Safety tips to keep in mind:
- Always remember to buy your train tickets online from mobile booking apps like Easemytrip.
- Always make sure you are wearing a N95 mask at all times.
- Carry disposable masks and gloves with you.
- Keep important documents and wallets in a sealed bag to avoid any spread of infection
- Don’t forget to carry some spare napkins, paper towels and some snacks for the journey
- Always make sure to sanitise your allotted seats. This is for your and other passengers’ safety
- Try to maintain a safe distance of minimum 6feet with your fellow passengers and train staffs
- Avoid sharing your food with others. This will minimize the risk a lot
Toy trains are indeed a source of happiness for kids and adults alike. In these tough times, a toy train journey is the best way to heal your mind and spirit. So, what are you waiting for? Stay safe and have a wonderful journey!!