Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Train ride to Remember: Kalka–Shimla Mountain Railway of India

This is one of the most beautiful train rides that I have experienced in my life. I have been to this route some 4 years back but I have not written any blog as I do not have a blog that time. 

The idea of writing about this post comes to my mind when I was traveling in from Delhi to Moradabad in Shatabdi. During the journey, all the passengers were provided a copy of Rail Bandhu magazine only to be read in the train. While reading one of the topics, my eyes caught an old guy named Achharu Ram, who was featured in a BBC documentary (at 10:30 timeline) series Indian Hill Railways, retired some time ago as a porter from the Shimla Railway station.  I felt the intense desire to see the documentary and quickly open the YouTube in train. You can enjoy that documentary below: Courtesy to BBC documentary series.

It is only after watching this video; I decided to write a blog on it.
The Kalka-Shimla Rail route is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site under Mountain Railways of India along with Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and Nilgiri Mountain Railways. 

The other two mountain railways in India,The Kangra Valley Railway and Matheran Hill Railway were also submitted by the Ministry of Railways  in the UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage sites.

Just Before Boarding the Train


Never felt so close to nature in my life
It runs for 96 kilometers (60 miles) though 20 railway stations, 102 tunnels, 998 bridges, and an incredible 917 curves. Speed of train is between 25-30km/hr both ways up . This line was opened to public on November 9, 1903. It ascends from 656 meters (2,152 ft) and terminates at an elevation of 2,076 meters (6,811 ft) at Shimla. This marvel is a perfect gift to India by British people.

We have boarded a train from Shimla. We have come here 2 days back from the road journey. We have not planned for this trip but after coming to here, we were amazed by his popularity among the tourists and guides and thought that coming to this great place will not be complete unless we experience this train journey and that was one of the best decisions. We told the driver to meet us at the Kalka railway station and we boarded the train. 

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Luckily, it was raining heavily that day in Shimla and seats were available in train. This train journey was around 5-6 hours against the road journey which takes only 2-3 hours but it is life time experience. I also heard that if you are travelling in it during a sunny day, views will not be that good as on cloudy day. Luckily, that day was heavily clouded.

Standing at the door of Train to have at least 180 degree view

Road Route is also visible

Watching a nature in a train is a delight. Splendid surroundings along the route will keep you enthralled throughout the journey and even after that.

At Kandadhat

I remembered Ruskin bond’s essays about nature and railways. Just after we boarded the train, the next 1 hour was passed capturing beautiful photographs of nature and train. After that I spent my time watching outside and introspecting. We reached Kalka at around 9 followed by our car drive to our hometown at Saharanpur. 

Solan: Mid point of the Kalka- Shimla Railway

As I was watching the mesmerizing landscapes, Glimpses of the movie “Into the wild” and excerpts of essays on Nature by Ruskin bond kept coming to my mind. Nature was at its best. I felt myself so ignorant felt like another brick in the wall.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”   Gustave Flaubert

I was missing 2 important things that would be like icing on the cake .First  One is the novel authored by Ruskin bond, which I always carries with me while traveling and other one pink Floyd’ music.

Same thought again crossed my mind that how badly we treated nature and our mother earth. 

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Unknown said...

Nice yaar, invoking the spirit of Rahul Sankrityayan ji. :)

Unknown said...

Nice yaar, invoking the spirit of Rahul Sankrityayan ji. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks a lot for your precious time.

Its really a great pleasure that this small writeup invoked the spirit of Rahul Sankrityayan ji, Father of Hindi Travel literature.

It was my bad luck that I was not aware of this great personality till date until enlightened by you.

Dimpy Roy said...

Nice trip and pictures. Thanks for sharing your trip experience. One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in India, Matheran Hill Railways offer a unique experience as it goes through tunnels on mountains surrounded by lush greenery and sweeping views of the adjoining areas. Check out all mountain railways in India also.

Unknown said...

Thanks Dimpy for your precious comment. Hope you have enjoyed the article.

Bhushan Sharma said...

Thanks for showing the beauty of Kalka Shimla railway... I will surely visit again...wonderful experience.. The Kalka Shimla railway toy train is like a huge snake winding on the hillsides, creeping its way to meet the Queen of Hills, that is Shimla.

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