Top Mountain Railways of India – The Toy Trains

Experience a Unique Travel Experience

As a reminder of British colonial legacy, the mountain railways of India have been serving every traveller since decades. Making transportation easy in the craggy terrains of hills, these heritage railways offers a journey providing breath taking views of hilly landscapes. However, these railways lines are not just impressive because of the scenic views of the mountains offered on board. They also pose as masterpieces of engineering that have enabled infrastructure for socio-economic development in the difficult topographies of the hills. Apart from this, such advancements have led these railways enter the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, acting as another embellishment in India tourism.

So, go through our list of top mountain railways in India and discover the magnificence of the mountains with a new dimension.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Inaugurated in 1881, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway received the World Heritage Site status on December 2, 1999. This ‘toy train’, runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, while covering a distance of 88 km in seven-and-a-half hours. The entire route consists of 8 major bridges, 542 minor bridges and 177 level crossings. The whole journey is filled with visual treats giving spectacular scenic views at every turn. However, it not only offers a finest travel experience but also represents marvellous skills of engineering. Running through Rocky Mountains, the train operates on extremely narrow gauges making the entire journey a bit adventurous.

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The first section of Nilgiri Mountain Railway extended from Mettupalayam to Coonoor and was opened for commuting in June 1899. This stretch was further extended up to Ooty in 1908, and since then it is offering unique travelling experience for all those on board. The train journey takes you from Mettupalayam to Ooty in four-and-a-half hours while covering a distance of 46 kilometers. The ride is exciting for all travellers, as the train moves along the green hills going through several tunnels and bridges, passing forests and tea plantations. The main highlight is that the engine lies at the back of train pushing all the carriages uphill, which makes the journey thrilling and adrenaline gushing. All this made Nilgiri Mountain Railway find a position in the list of World Heritage Site by UNESCO, on July 15, 2005.

Kalka Shimla Railway

In the past, this train has served countless of British officials carrying them to Shimla in order to escape the blistering heat of the plains. Established on November 9, 1903, the train still carries thousands of travellers who rush to Shimla either to beat the summers of plains or to revel in the snowy weather of winters. The journey covers a distance of 96 kilometers in six hours, passing through 101 tunnels, several curved bridges and beautiful small stations. The train moves with a slow speed giving every passenger a chance to admire the picturesque Himalayas, misty valleys and simple lifestyles of the hill folks. All this makes this railway a masterpiece of engineering granting it a position in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Matheran Light Railway

Opened to passengers in March 1907, the Matheran Light Railway connects Neral to Matheran in Maharashtra. A 2 feet narrow gauge heritage railway, it is the only way to reach Matheran, a peaceful hill station in the state of Maharashtra. The journey becomes adventurous as the narrow tracks follows sharpest curves of the mountainous regions. The whole covers a distance of 21 kilometers in two hours where the traveller gets to see some incredible views through the windows. The heritage railway has many main attractions unwrapping the magnificent beauty of the Western Ghats including- the horseshoe embankment, Herdal Hill section, Bhekra Khud steep gradient, One Kiss Tunnel and Panorama Point.

Kangra Valley Railway

Set in Himachal Pradesh, the Kangra Valley Railway covers a distance of 164 kilometers from Pathankot Junction to Jogindar Nagar. As UNESCO-recognized world heritage site, this narrow gauge heritage railway moves through many twists and turns of the mountains passing through two tunnels. Throughout the journey, passengers are treated with picturesque beauty of the snowy-peaked hills and lush green fields. The most spectacular sights of the valley captures your sight when the train passes from Mangwal to Kangra and Palampur where one can catch the splendid beauty of Dhualadhar Range.