There’s something truly magical about a journey by train. You can meet, share your food with new people and sleep as the sound of wheels swishing on tracks beneath you sings a lullaby. You also get a chance to catch a glimpse of the colourful landscape as your train passes by.
As the winter vacation will soon start, it would not be a bad idea to make a railway journey one of the highlights on your vacation itinerary. And enjoying a toy train journey is something which you must experience once in your lifetime.
The Indian Railways are all set to celebrate the 20 years of the declaration of the iconic Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) as the World Heritage Site by the UNESCO this year.
The DHR is the first and still the most outstanding example of a hill passenger railway. Opened in 1881, it applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. “It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact,” stated the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), which manages the DHR.
The DHR connects the plains of West Bengal at New Jalpaiguri with the hill station of Darjeeling. On the way, it passes through the most breathtaking scenery and climbs to a height of 74,00 feet at Ghum – the highest station in India and the second-highest in the world -, from where glimpses of the Mt. Kanchenjunga are visible on clear days.
“The world-famous DHR is still running between the planes of Siliguri to Darjeeling crisscrossing the Hill Cart Road which was built in 1831 by Lieutenant Napier of Indian Army in numerous places and going up through ingeniously created ‘Z-reverse’ and loops,” the NFR mentioned.
The construction of the 2 feet (610 mm) wide-gauge DHR was started in 1879. It reached Tindharia in March, 1880 and upto Ghum in April, 1881. The first train finally reached Darjeeling on July 4th, 1881. Initially, there were four complete loops and four Z – reverses.
“But today DHR has three loops and six Z-reverses and a ride through them is stunningly breathtaking. There are thirteen stations starting from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. Although the old narrow gauge trains of DHR used to be hauled by steam engines only, today it is being hauled by both steam and diesel engines,” the NFR further stated.
The DHR is one of the most amazing engineering feats of the world, even more, amazing about the DHR is that it is fully operational even a century after it was built.
Do enjoy a ride and let us know about your experience in the comment section.
Cover Photo Credit: dhr.in.net