One of the most picturesque toy train journeys on planet Earth.!
Go back in time to the past by boarding the Kalka to Shimla toy train railway line which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site that connects the Indian plains to Shimla which is also known as the ‘Queen Of The Hills’. This toy train was built in 1903, and has accomplished one of the most incredible feats of engineering covering a staggering hundred and two tunnels, eight hundred and sixty four bridges, and nine hundred and nineteen stunning curves. The toy train spans over sixty miles, and is said to be one of the most scenic railway journeys in India. And, with a route that encompasses a vast display of awe inspiring landscapes, it’s easy to see why. This journey runs on a narrow gauge from Kalka to Shimla, treating passengers with breathtaking views of rugged mountains, lush pine forests, waterfalls, valleys and picture-perfect hill stations along the way that will definitely tempt you to disembark and bask in their beauty. The whole journey takes about five and a half hours.
History of the toy train line from Kalka to Shimla -
Soon after the first Anglo-Gurkha war, Shimla (then, called as Simla) was established by the British Empire. In 1864, the town became the summer capital of the British Empire and even served as the British army’s headquarters. But the only snag was connectivity which meant to reach Shimla, the only mode of transportation was a bullock cart that traversed through mountainous terrain, which was unsteady, dangerous and took a long amount of time. So, for easy and quick access to Shimla, the Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge was started in 1903 and was referred as the ‘British Jewel of the Orient’. The maiden journey of the train was taken by the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon. And since then, the train has been operating regularly and has become an iconic symbol of Shimla that is cherished by locals and tourists alike.
The route taken by The Kalka to Shimla toy train line -
The Kalka-Shimla train allows passengers to see mesmerizing sights and hamlets that they would have otherwise never witnessed. The route starts from Kalka, located in the Panchkula district of Haryana, from zero metres, winding its way upwards along the narrow track. At 656 metres, the train starts climbing uphill, passing through the eighteen stations and reaches Shimla, located at an elevation of two thousand and seventy six metres in the lap of the Himalayas. As the train ascends through steep mountains and curves, its speed slows down.
The 18 stations it stops at are at Taksal (6 km), Gumman (11 km), Koti (17 km), Sonwara (27 km), Dharampur (33 km), Kumarhatti (39 km), Barog (43 km), Solan (47 km), Salogra (53 km), Kandaghat (59 km), Kanoh (65 km), Kathleegat (73 km), Shoghi (78 km), Taradevi (85 km), Jutoh (90 km), Summer Hill (93 km) and finally, Shimla (96 km). At every station, there are tea and snack stalls, so passengers can relish in the local food along the way. The journey is magical, to say the least.
The highlight of the journey is Barog station, which has the longest tunnel (tunnel number thirty three) on the route, stretching one thousand one hundred and forty three metres. Also, bridge number two hundred and twenty six is an architectural marvel that passes over a deep valley surrounded by steep hills on both sides. However, it is difficult to see this bridge from the carriage.