Himachal Pradesh has e 2 narrow gauge Rail tracks – Kalka/ Shimla and Pathankot/ Jogindernagar. Kalka/ Shimla mini trains run on these treks popularly called ‘Toy Trains’ by the tourists. Meandering on these trains is a galvanizing experience as one passes through the breathtaking landscapes of majestic Himalayas, tunnels/ bridges and lush green valleys embellished with pine, oak trees, leaving a long lasting memory of rhapsody and triumph.
The train is one of the most unique railway tracks of the world. It is said that this railway line has been first sketched in November 1847, almost 50 years before, it was actually constructed.
This magnificent train was inaugurated by the British viceroy, Lord Curzon in November 1903, almost covering the distance of 96 km from Kalka through the curving tracks, up to Shimla hills- the summer capital of colonial India. The toy train trek from Kalka to Shimla is adorned with resplendent panorama of the valley and the picturesque stations along the way. The train passes through 103 tunnels, 969 bridges, 919 curves and 20 railway stations in its entire journey.
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The Guinness Book on ‘Rail Facts and Feats’ included Kalka-Shimla Railway as the greatest narrow gauge engineering achievement in India.
Kalka Simla Toy Train has about 7 coaches that can accommodate least 200 passengers in a single trip. The diversities of challenging weather do not extricate the pertinacity of the 700 horsepower B-B type diesel engines. They run energetically taking up the hazards of adverse weather conditions – temperatures ranging from 0 to 45Â°C, heavy snowfall -average recording 2 feet during winters, and the annual rainfall of 200-250 cm, perceived by the valley. The train acquires up a moderate average speed of 25-30 km throughout its passage bestowing its travelers to luxuriate in the full splendor of the picturesque valley.
The rail route indeed, possesses 107 tunnels but the train passes through 103 tunnels, big and small. The toy trains cross the longest tunnel at Barog in 3 minutes. Besides the Barog tunnel, other 3 big tunnels on this route are Koti – 2,276 feet, Taradevi – 1,615 feet and Tunnel no. 103 – 1,135 feet.
The rail track rises from Kalka at 640m to the freezing zones of Shimla at 2,060 m. A tour from Kalka to Shimla is just amazing. The toy train twists its way gradually through the hills up to the alpine, approaching of the demeaning Himalayas. Through the way some of the awesome views of the landscape can be cherished at Kushalya River, Koti, Barog, Kanoh, Jabli 1,240 meters above sea level.
Some of the well known Toy Trains
Luxury Trains includes- Shivalik Express, Shivalik Palace
Ordinary Trains includes- Himalayan Queen, Shimla Kalka – Passenger Train -, Shimla – Kalka Mail, Mixed Train- Attached Honeymoon Coach.
Microbiologist and a Toxicologist, Des was born in Nither, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. At present Dr. Kashyap is working as a Research Faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine in Gary, Indiana, USA.
Kalka-Shimla railway is no doubt a great work in existence for more than 100 years. It surely is a wonder accomplished during the Britishers’s rule, no one can deny that fact. And, today, when over 100 years have passed not an inch has been further been extended by the railways.
A journey by the toy train is really a lovely, exhilirating, ecstatic, exciting experience always on every trip. One is amidst the nature, as if flying in the hills with some very scenic views on the way enjoying the curves , the bends, the tunnels…
Thank you Shri Des Raj ji for once again refresing our sweet memories of the Kalka-Shimla journey by toy train. As also thanks for tthe valuable information about the logistics, facts.
One feels like rushing to enjoy the ride in the hills, in the nature, leaving behind the mad rush of the cities.