If you have some time to spare, take a slow toy train up to the hill resort of Shimla, Ooty (Udhagamandalam), Darjeeling or Matheran. There is no other experience like the one of the toy trains. The slow journey through mountains, valleys, picturesque landscapes, terrace fields, beautiful waterfalls, dark tunnels, breathtaking bridges, is the experience of the lifetime. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the slow and exciting journey in a Toy Trains of India. It is worth the time taken. You may have to spend up to 8 hours but that’s nothing in front of experience you get.
When a toy train passes through the residential area of the town and you have a look at the kids waving at you with a smile on their face, that smile makes your day. These trains were laid during the British raj to connect the plains with the hill resorts. These trains run on a narrow gauge which is the reason for the slow speed. These toy trains are the four historic toy train services currently operating in India.
Following are some of the toy trains of India
1. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Remember Bollywood superstar of 60’s and 70’s, Rajesh Khanna, singing the superhit hit number “Mere Sapno ki Raani Kab aayegi tu” for Sharmila Tagore from the movie Aradhana which was a blockbuster in 1969? Ok If you can’t recall Aradhana, you must have seen “Parineeta” in that movies there was a song which Saif Ali Khan sung “kasto maja hai railayi maa”. You must be thinking that what could be the relation between these two moviesor these two songs? I know many of you would say about the relationship between Sharmila Tagore and Saif Ali Khan…… but that’s not true. The common thing here is the Toy Train and both of these are the Toy-Trains of Darjeeling.
Those who have not seen the songs and have not experienced the toy train journey, I would suggest that you first see the songs and then experience the slow journey through lush green valleys, mountains, landscapes, rivers, tunnels, waterfall, small town life, local people etc. I guess I’ve listed enough reasons to have the experience of the lifetime.
2. Kalka-Shimla Railway
A trip on the Kalka – Shimla toy train is the experience of the lifetime. The historic Toy Train journey feels like you are travelling back in time. These toy trains were laid during the British Raj by Britishers in the year 1903. As we all know that Shimla was once the Summer capital of India during the British Rule. The main motive then was to connect the plains with the Hill resorts. The Kalka – Shimla track has about 100 tunnels to pass. It runs for 96 kilometers (60 miles) though 20 railway stations, 102 tunnels, 800 bridges, and an incredible 900 curves. The longest tunnel, which stretches for more than a kilometer, is near the main railway station at Barog.
3. Matheran Hill Railway
Matheran is one of the famous picnic spot and a monsoon destination near Pune, Maharashtra. The journey on the Toy Train from Neral ( a place on the Mumbai-Pune line) to Matheran resort is a joyful retreat. Matheran Railway is a 77-year-old line connecting Neral to Matheran. The railway was founded by Mumbai based entrepreneur Abdul Hussain Peerbhoy. The distance from Matheran to Neral is about 20 km only but the time it takes to reach one destination to other is about two and a half hour. The landscape changes too quickly. Neral being the plain area where you see grassy plains and soon when you start climbing up it changes into mountains with thick forests and beautiful waterfalls. It also passes through one short tunnel, interestingly named “One Kiss Tunnel”.
4. Ooty Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Ooty is a small hill station in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. Ooty is famous for its picturesque landscapes and natural beauty. The main tourist attraction of Ooty is the Toy-Train which runs from Metupalaiyam to Udagamandalam (Ooty), via Coonoor, in the Nilgiri Hills. The track is 46 kilometers (28.5 miles) long, and passes over 26 viaducts, and through 16 tunnels and tall girder bridges. The interesting fact is that it was completed in the year 1899, 45 years after the the 1st plan was drawn.