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Tag Archives: Locomotive

The Soul of Himachal – Kalka Shimla Railway

Kalka Shimla Toy Train is a part of the mountain railway project located in Himachal Pradesh, India. It was built by the British in 1903 to provide access to their summer capital of Shimla. Being a 2 ft 5 inch narrow gauge railway, it covers the entire mountainous route from Kalka to Shimla. It is popular all around for the picturesque views of hills and the surrounding villages. Spectacular scenery during the whole journey keeps the traveler to spell bound on this line. It rejuvenates passengers when the cozy air touches their cheeks and then further makes its way upwards along the narrow track through majestic mountains and pine forests. Due to its glory and charm, it is also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Kalka Shimla Railway

Image by Shubh M Singh on flickr.com

The route of this train offers panoramic views of all the hill stations. It stops at several points namely Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghatm Taradevi, Barog, Salogra, Totu, Summerhill and Shimla. Originally, there were 107 tunnels that built on this track. In 1930, four of them were discarded, so, remained 103. In 2006, again tunnel no. 46 were dismantled and the number became 102. So, presently there are 102 tunnels but the last tunnel no. 103 at Shimla is still famous as tunnel no. 103. This tunnel is a famous landmark of the town. The longest tunnel is located at Barog. This tunnel is associated with a number of tales and legends.

Himalayan_Queen

Himalayan Queen going through a tunnel on the Kalka–Shimla Railway route

Total 864 bridges are located on this line. One of the bridge is 18.29 meter plate girder span. Other bridges have multi-arched galleries like the ancient Roman aqueducts. Bridge No. 493 is known as the “Arch Gallery” and is situated between Kandaghat and Kanoh stations. It is an arch bridge that made in three stages. Another one is bridge no. 226, located between Sonwara and Dharampur. It is an arch gallery bridge and have tier galleries of multiple spans.

Train passing Arch Gallery Bridge

Train passing over the Arch Gallery Bridge
Image by Jarkko Viikki on flickr.com

Many sharpest curves are there. The most sharpest one is 48 degrees. Two class “B”0-4-OST locomotives were the first locomotives that arrived there from the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Diesel locomotives are currently used on this railway.

Main tourist train services that available on this route are the Shivalik Deluxe Express, Himalayan Queen and Rail Motor Car. Each train has its own quality. A number of extra train services are available during the holiday season in India. It is usually from May to July, September, October, December and January. Rail Motor Car is also a temporary service that operates during the rush time of the year, only to manage the crowd.

Toy Train Kalka Shimla

Image by edge_one on flickr.com

This train is also used for making documentaries and shooting the songs of Indian Bollywood movies. In the UK, the BBC has made a series of documentaries on the Indian Hill Railways. First documentary deals with the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway while the third one deals with Kalka-Shimla Railway. It’s shown on BBC FOUR TV on February 2010, on BBC TWO on April 2010 and again on BBC FOUR in January 2012 & September 2012. Songs related to the movie “Tridevi” also shot in this train and many others are in the list.

Thus, the route is the soul and the heart of the Himachal Pradesh, India. A large number of visitors go there throughout the year to enjoy their vacation and surprised by the beauty of the place. They keep the memories of the journey by taking the photographs of this breathtaking destination.

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Observe the beauty through Darjeeling Himalayan Railways

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) or popularly known as Toy Train is a 2 ft, narrow gauge railway runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in West Bengal, India. It is the first and the most outstanding example of a hill railway. It opens in 1881 and displays the engineering skills. Due to this, residents of hill terrain can travel from one place to another through the steep hills. It is about 86 kms long and the elevation varies from about 100 meters at Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 meters at Darjeeling. The headquarters of the railway is located in the town of Kurseong.

Darjeeling-Himalayan-Railway

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Locomotive
Image by Mark Herriott on flickr.com

DHR was listed in the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It is only the second railway that gets this honor after the Semmering Railway of Austria in 1998. The main problem that faced by DHR was the steep slopes of the mountain. Those loops and Z-Reverses were designed as an integral part of the system at different points along the route to achieve a comfortable gradient for the stretches in between them. While climbing a slope, the train moves forwards, reverses and then moves forward again, by doing so, it gains height along the side of the hill.

Darjeeling_Himalayan_Railway

Image source – wikipedia.org

The railway line that crisscross the mountain peaks stops at several locations to deliver the passengers. The climb is through reverse and loops, so, 5 reverses and 3 loops are there. The most popular among the loops is the Batasia Loop located between Ghum and Darjeeling. Besides this, it has 5 major, 498 minor bridges and 177 unmanned level crossings. Total 14 stations are there including New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.

DHR

Locomotive going through a curve
Image by bhaswaran on flickr.com

Stations on which the DHR stops are New Jalpaiguri Junction, Siliguri Town Station, Siliguri Junction, Sukna Station, Rangtong Station, Tindharia station, Mahanadi Station, Kurseong Station, Tung Station, Sonada Station, Ghum Station, Batasia Loop, etc. Main locomotives that used currently are the steam ones and designed by Sharp Stewart company and later by the North British Locomotive Company. Four diesel locomotives are also in use.

DHR_on_Batasia_Loop

DHR Locomotive on Batasia Loop
Image source – wikipedia.org

A number of films have illustrated this railway like the film Aradhana, Barfi, Parineeta, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Darjeeling Limited, etc. BBC news made a series of three documentaries which deals with Indian Hill Railways. The first film covers the Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway, the second is the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the third one is the Kalka-Shimla Railway. So, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a wondrous thing and the visitors of West Bengal & Darjeeling must enjoy this journey to make the trip unforgettable.

 

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