Saturday, March 21, 2009

India's Darjeeling Himalayan Railways

India’s Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Lovingly called the Toy Train, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or the DHR is one of the most spectacular narrow gauge steam railways and one of the finest engineering feats of the world. India boasts of five mountain railways. Operating since 1881, this train runs from New Jalpaiguri in the eastern India to Darjeeling via Siliguri and Kurseong covering a distance of 88 km of which 10 km are in the plains. The journey takes up to 10 hours as against 3 hours by car and 4 hours by bus, but it does offer excellent opportunities for photo features and documentary videography in its exotic surrounding. It has steep gradients and amazing loops and its gauge is the narrowest measuring only 0.6096 m.

The DHR secured the coveted World Heritage Area (WHA) in 1999, the first being Semmering Railway of Austria in 1998.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (DHRS) was founded in 1997 by an UK-based International group dedicated to promoting awareness of, interest in, and support for the DHR. This Society is spread over 24 nations with a membership of over 800.

This railway project was originally proposed by one Mr. Franklin Prestage of the Eastern Bengal Railway Company in 1879 and the construction by the Gillander Arbuthnot & Company commenced shortly. The company was renamed the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company. Five loops and four reverses (zig-zags) were added later on for safety reasons to ease the gradient. and the track was extended to Darjeeling in 1886. Innovations to stations were carried out and the passenger and goods traffic picked up fast in due course, but competition from the bus service affected DHR as the travel time by bus was comparatively less. Natural calamities like earthquake in 1897 and a major cyclone in 1899 had caused damages to this railway. The Batasia loop line came up in 1919 to overcome the problems of gradients on the ascent from Darjeeling. The 1934 earthquake in the northeast India did not spare the DHR, but normalcy was restored rapidly and the traffic picked up again.

After independence, the Indian Government purchased this company and various constructions were taken up at various times.

Of note about Darjeeling. Mother Teresa was involved in the first convent school established in Darjeeling in 1846.

Source: Google
Images: Google

4 comments on "India's Darjeeling Himalayan Railways"

Anonymous said...

Travelling in Himalayan train will be really a thrilling experience. One shoud never miss the journey. At least once we must travel in that train. Cudos to Railways.

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G.Kannan on March 26, 2009 at 12:31 PM said...




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