All the rail enthusiasts, if you can take a break from your daily life, take a slow toy train up to any of the hill resorts of Shimla, Darjeeling, Matheran or Ooty (Udhangamandalam). India’s toy trains are relatively small trains that take a run along the historic railway lines up to many hill stations in India. Though these trains are slow and can take a little longer time to transport you to your destination, there is nothing that can match the experience of gulping up the hills making way through tunnels and over striking bridges. It’s the leisurely pace that offers you a beautiful view of the changing vistas. The pure air and the delight of the hill resorts provide a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. So be ready to start on an out-of-the-ordinary journey up to the hills. Here I have listed the best toy train journeys of India.
Following are the Best Toy Train Rides in India
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Officially known as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Darjelling toy train meanders through the lower reaches of the Eastern Himalayas to the undulating hills and lush green tea plantations in Darjeeling. Completed in 188, Darjelling toy train is the oldest of the historic toy train railways in India. The train links the town of New Jalpaiguri in the plains to the lovely hill station of Darjeeling. The tiny century-old engine is a connoisseur’s delight. The 86-km long Darjeeling line has no tunnels, thus it allows the traveler an uninterrupted view of the magnificent scenery of the Himalayas.
Matheran Hill Railway
Connecting Neral to Matheran, the 77-year-old line is the main way to reach the tiny hill resort Matheran, close to Mumbai. The Matheran toy train had its first run in 1907. Since then the train transfers passengers to the greenery of the tranquil and pollution free hill station of Matheran where vehicles are banned making the place a peaceful and unusual retreat. The journey takes around two and a half hours to reach the top of the hill. As the train wanders into the clear mountain, you can view the panoramic plains and hills below. The toy train runs between sunrise and sunset.
Ooty Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The Nilgiri Mountain railway begins its journey from the town of Mettupalayam, after several twists and turns; this narrow gauge train ascends 46 km to the hill resort of Ooty, India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. This railway journey is particularly pictorial due to the surrounding rivulets, hilly terrain and thickly dense lush green forests. The historic railway line was completed in 1899; 45 years after the first plans were drawn up. Both first class and second class seating are offered on the toy train. The 16 tunnels and the tall girder bridges on the way, along with the enchanting view, make this toy train journey to Ooty, something not to be missed.
Taking a journey on the historic Kalka-Shimla train line is like travelling little back in time. Built by the British in 1903, the railway was used by the officers to get access to Shimla, the summer capital of India. Declared as World Heritage by UNESCO, this railway journey offers one of the most scenic train journeys in India. From Kalka to Shimla, ‘the toy train’ covers 96 km of track in 6 hours. The train stops at some of the picturesque stations along the way – Taksal, Dharampore, Gamma and Solan, making the journey visually alluring for the passengers.