Darjeeling Toy Train Journey: A Ride to Remember

 Darjeeling Toy Train Journey: A Ride to Remember

I have always been fascinated by the Darjeeling toy train, officially known as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which transports passengers through the lower reaches of the Eastern Himalayas to the undulating hills and lush green tea plantations of Darjeeling. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the engineering marvels of India. So, when I got a chance to visit Darjeeling, I decided to take the toy train ride from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling, covering a distance of 88 km in about 7 hours.

I boarded the train at 10 am from New Jalpaiguri station, which is well connected to other parts of India by road and rail. The train had two first class carriages and a modern new Vistadome air-conditioned carriage with large windows and a glass roof. I chose the Vistadome carriage to enjoy the panoramic views of the scenery along the way.

The train started its journey with a gentle whistle and soon left behind the hustle and bustle of the city. The track ran parallel to the Hill Cart Road and crisscrossed it at many points. The train passed through several small stations such as Siliguri Town, Sukna, Rongtong, Tindharia, Gayabari, Mahanadi, Kurseong, Tung, Sonada, Ghoom and finally Darjeeling. At each station, the train stopped for a few minutes to let passengers get down or board.

The journey was full of breathtaking views of the mountains, valleys, forests, tea gardens and local villages on the way. The train climbed up steeply through a number of exhilarating reverses and loops that helped it to negotiate the sharp gradients. One of the most scenic of these was Batasia Loop, between Ghoom and Darjeeling, where the train made a 360-degree turn around a circular garden with a war memorial in the center. The view of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga peak from here was mesmerizing.

Another highlight of the journey was Ghoom, the highest point on the route at an altitude of 7,404 ft. This is also the highest railway station in Asia and second highest in the world. The train stopped here for 30 minutes and I visited the Ghoom Railway Museum, which displayed various artifacts and photographs related to the history and heritage of the DHR.

The last leg of the journey was from Ghoom to Darjeeling, which took about an hour. The train passed over five major bridges and more than 450 minor bridges on this stretch. The landscape changed from green to brown as the train approached Darjeeling town. The train arrived at Darjeeling station at 5:20 pm, marking the end of an unforgettable ride.

The Darjeeling toy train journey was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. It gave me a glimpse of the rich culture and natural beauty of this region. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy a slow and scenic ride through the Himalayas.


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