Sometimes train journeys are not taken just to commute between cities. They are undertaken for enjoying scenic beauty and for nostalgia. We have some of the most beautiful terrains in the country being covered by toy trains which have been constructed centuries ago but are an example of world-class engineering. Ascending over steep mountains and passing through lush green valleys, these historic trains might be slow as compared to the modern trains, but the experience of soaking the beauty of ethereal landscapes passing through various tunnels and bridges at a slow pace is something unparalleled. There are many celebrated mountain trains in India and few of them have also been listed among UNESCO World Heritage Site. We list down the top 5 toy trains in India for the ultimate hill journey.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
One of the oldest toy trains in India, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway passes through Eastern Himalayas offering breathtaking views of valleys, snow clad peaks and lush green tea estates. Built in 1881, Darjeeling toy train starts from New Jalpaiguri station in West Bengal covering Darjeeling, Siliguri and Kurseong on the way, finally reaching the highest railway station in India- Ghum. The entire journey is 86 km long with 505 bridges and 0 tunnels, thus offering uninterrupted view of the mountains.
Matheran Hill Railway
Completed in 1907, Matheran Hill Railway connects Neral to the hill town of Matheran in Maharashtra. Offering magnificent views of the Western Ghats, Matheran toy train is the only way to reach the tranquil hill station of Matheran where vehicles are banned making the place a peaceful and pollution free mountain retreat. The journey takes around two and a half hours to complete and is one of the most popular toy train journeys in India.
Ooty Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Meandering through various twists and turns, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway begins at Mettupalayam town in Tamil Nadu and transports passengers to the quaint hill station of Ooty. The toy train was completed in 1906 and covers a distance of 46 kms passing through dense forests. Crossing 250 bridges and 16 tunnels on the way, Ooty Nilgiri Mountain Railway is famous for the shooting of iconic Bollywood song Chhaiya Chhaiya.
Constructed by the British in 1903, the Kalka-Shimla Railway is the historic railway line that connects people from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh to the British Raj Summer Capital of India–Shimla. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the toy train takes passengers through one of the most scenic vistas in India. The train covers a distance of 96 km in 6 hours, taking haul at Taksal, Dharampore, Gamma and Solan. The toy train ride is massively popular among tourists in India.
Kangra Valley Railway
Kangra Valley Railway is the longest mountain railway route in India, covering a distance of 163 kms. The journey begins from Pathakot in Punjab and ends at Joginder Nagar in Himachal Pradesh. The train crosses the mesmerizing Dhauladhar mountain ranges on the way via Kangra Valley. Built in 1929, Kangra Valley Railway is the last mountain railway project of the British in India. Passing through 971 bridges and 2 tunnels, this toy train ride is an idyllic medium to have an up-close experience with nature.
Historic and masterfully engineered, these toy train rides are true transportation heritage of India. Passing through high altitude mountains, gorgeous valleys and dense forests, travelling through these mountain trains is an experience that cannot be defined in words but only experienced.