There are 5 major toy trains that run through the mountainous areas of India. These are small trains and run at relatively slower speeds. But since the outside view is so picturesque, passengers don’t mind the extra time taken to reach the destinations.
Following are the popular mountain railway toy trains in India:
1. Kalka-Shimla Railway, Himachal Pradesh
Built during British Raj, this toy train connected Shimla with the Indian rail system. It runs on an average of 25–30 km/hr speed. Passing through 20 scenic stations, 912 curves, 103 tunnels, and, 969 bridges, the whole ride is very pleasing. On 8 July 2008, it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, West Bengal
Opened in 1879, this railway is one of the oldest in India. Running between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri, it goes through 5 loops and 6 zig zags – providing passengers panoramic views of Darjeeling’s lush green tea plantations and rolling hills. It has a total of 14 stations. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site on 2 December 1999.
3. Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Tamil Nadu
Opened in 1908, this is the country’s only rack railways. Measuring 46 km in length, it goes through a total of 13 stations. One of its stations was also filmed for the movie ‘A Passage to India’. The railway was also a part of the documentary on Indian Hill Railways made by BBC in 2010. In July 2005, it was considered as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4. Matheran Hill Railway, Maharashtra
Although not a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is on the tentative list to become one. The 21 km ride takes the passengers through peaceful pollution-free greenery of the surroundings. Opened in 1907, it connected Matheran to Neral. The train takes a total of 2 hours 20 minutes to complete the journey.
5. Kangra Valley Railway, Himachal Pradesh
Connecting Pathankot in Punjab to Jogindernagar in Himachal Pradesh, Kangra Valley Railway runs for 164 km. Commissioned in 1929, it is on UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites. Lush farmlands along the way make for a pleasant journey.