Darjeeling Himalayan railways – A romantic prelude to the mighty Himalayas

The toy train ride in the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) is like a sweet lullaby in the midst of a dreamland. Though much has been said about the present condition of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways and Darjeeling itself, a toy train ride through the misty tracks from Darjeeling to Kurseong will definitely rekindle the romanticism in a person.

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Toy train ride at Darjeeling

First let me say a little about the history of this wonderful creation. The DHR was constructed by Franklin Prestage from 1879 to 1881. The toy train covers a distance of 88 km from Darjeeling to Siliguri on a 2 feet wide gauge. The railways were initially built as a Tramway to exploit the differential price of rice in Darjeeling and Siliguri.

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Route map of DHR

The entire track has 13 stations in between with Ghum being the Highest one at 7404 ft. Ghum had once the honour of being the highest Railway station in the world. Though this distinction has long since gone, yet Ghum is the highest narrow gauge railway station.

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Ghoom Station

The Darjeeling Himalayan railways are a living heritage. When built in 1881, the engineers of DHR had pushed technology to the limit of what conventional railways were capable of that time. The engineers used various techniques such as loops and reverses to move through the difficult domain through which the train would pass. The steam locomotives along with all others provide a shining living heritage.

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An old photograph of Darjeeling Station

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways provided an outstanding example of the influence of ingenious transportation on the socio economic development of the region. Remarkably it also served as model for similar developments in the world. The development of the railways in the 19th century at such difficult terrains had an overwhelming impact on the social and economic development in many parts of the world. DHR was ground breaking and outstanding in this case. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was thus very aptly given the status of World Heritage Site by the UNESCO on 5th December 1999.

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Toy train chugging along

Not much has been changed in the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways. The track has been extended to New Jalpaiguri from Siliguri. And now the trains are run mostly by diesel engines and not the erstwhile steam engines.

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Kurseong station

But steam engine runs on special occasions and from Darjeeling to Ghum via the Batasia Loop (called the Joy Ride). I personally feel The DHR can be definitely maintained in a better way. The DHRs is a unique and iconic site and is the pride of not only Darjeeling, but also of India.

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Men at work – getting ready for the ride

Nothing can dilute the charm of travelling in a toy train – be it run by steam engine or diesel engines. Just the sound of the whistle of the train and the sight of the steam engine transports me to my dreamland.

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Men at Work

The chuff- chuff of the steam engines as the machineries work to put the engine in motion is electrifying!  And as the train moves zig-zag like a hissing snake through the mountains, it simply leaves me mesmerized. I look at the green mountains from the window and promise myself that I’ll be back soon.

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Enjoying the ride..

Some important Facts:

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There are a few tourist facilities at the DHR.

  1. Museum at Ghum station.
  2. DHR Archives at Kurseong station.
  3. Museum at Elysia Place, Kurseong.
  4. Photo gallery at Sukna Railway Station.
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Darjeeling Station

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We are Agni and Amrita, two backpackers from Kolkata, India. We are chalk and cheese in nature. Agni is gregarious, fun loving and prolific person. Amrita meanwhile is the quirky nerd, thoughtful & methodical one among the two. It is the love for each other and for travel that binds us together. We believe in being wings to each other and travelling helps us in doing so.

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10 Responses

  1. Amazing captures!! Brought back our travel memories of Darjeeling 🙂

  2. Rajesh says:

    This is truly exciting to travel by this train.

  3. wow. so informative. never thought of it’s historical about this place. I haven’t been to this place yet but it’s really impressive and tempting to go there as soon as possible, the train just giving me a good impression should be the best way to ride on and wander.

  4. We love all kinds of train rides. This looks like a lot of fun! So much history on this route and I’m sure, great views. I would definitely try this if I was close by.

  5. Sudipta Ghosh says:


  1. October 28, 2015

    […] walking down a misty road hand in hand with your beloved – road that leads to nowhere! The toy train ride from Ghum to Kurseong is also a fairy tale ride. I am a die hard romantic and Darjeeling has all […]

  2. May 7, 2016

    […] To us, Darjeeling symbolizes romanticism. The beautiful tea gardens and the nostalgic toy train (Darjeeling Himalayan Railways) along with the view of the mighty Kanchenjunga will make your heart melt. You can also visit […]

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    […] The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways […]

  4. May 7, 2017

    […] throw distance from the Mall on the Nehru Road, the Glenary’s is a prominent landmark of Darjeeling. It exists since the colonial days, may be catering to the breakfast needs of the British. And now […]

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