Darjeeling Himalayan Railway- A mini miracle
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
For many people, the somewhat erratic narrow gauge Toy Train between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, with its 0.6 m gauge track which used to be hauled by sparkling tank engines, is a rewarding experience. The brainchild of East
Bengal railway agent Franklyn Prestage, the train promised to improve access to the hills from the sweltering humidity of the Kolkata plains in the summer. Following the line of an earlier steam tramway, the name was changed to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company in 1881.
It is a stunning achievement, winding its way up the hillside, often with brilliant views over the plains covering the 82 km with gradients of up to one in 19. At Ghoom it reaches 2438 m and then descends 305m to Darjeeling. The DHR has been upgraded to a World Heritage Site and has newly refurbished carriages with cushioned seats and window curtains for the tourist trains. It is a must for steam buffs, despite derailments which are "swiftly dealt with and you are lifted back on the tracks within 20 minutes".