Seven Interesting facts of UNESCO recognised Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

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This post talks about UNESCO recognised Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, its seven interesting facts. The hypnotic pull on travellers who travel from far and wide to have their personal experience on the DHR toy train ( Darjeeling Himalayan Railway ). One can also call it as a photolog as there are loads of visuals to see.

UNESCO recognised Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was on my wishlist for quite some time. Though it was not a burning desire yet, I always wanted to see these old-world renowned select category of Railways also known as toy trains that are operated in our country. So when I transited through Darjeeling, I got an opportunity to have a look at DHR.

Pls click on the particular image in case you wish to see the full image …

Now I had travelled by trains a lot in my childhood as it was the primary mode of transport in our family when I was growing up. Those train journeys used to long, 36-hour variety hence lots of memories to make watching the states, regions and numerous railway stations breeze past. These days flights have taken the place of trains. However, the journey by the Indian railways is always fascinating as it provides an insight into the stories that make up the rural & real India. Toy Trains represent a very niche segment within the Indian Railways.

So, coming back to the post in hand regarding the globally acclaimed UNESCO recognised Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. I was looking forward to taking the New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling toy train sector running under the DHR category, a journey of 88  km which would take me around 08 hours. However, somehow this plan did not fructify as I missed the train on account of arriving late from Kolkata itself.

Seven interesting facts about Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Train routes of UNESCO recognised Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

The interesting facts about Darjeeling Himalayan Railway come later down in the post but for now, let’s look at the toy train routes offered under the DHR network.

To simplify, the following main  routes have been planned for those interested in taking the DHR and savouring the uniqueness of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Route I ( 88 km)

DestinationTime Time
New Jalpaiguri09001730
DNUP
Darjeeling 15301030

ROUTE II ( 31 KMS )

DestinationTimeTime
Kurseong 07001840
DNUP
Darjeeling09451600

*Please refer to latest toy train timings when planning your schedules.

Special Routes

Jungle Safari. The jungle safari special operates between Siliguri Jn. and Tindharia. The journey is covered within the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary.

Steam Loco special. This toy train service of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway operates using steam locomotives between Darjeeling and Ghum, a distance of 16 km passing through the town of Darjeeling covering the world-famous Batasia Loops arriving finally at Ghum station.

Historical Footnote & Interesting facts of UNESCO recognised Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

DHR railway extends from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling, a distance of 88 km. The construction was started by Franklin Prestage in 1879 and completed up to a station known as Tindharia in 1880. By 1881 the railway line reached Darjeeling. In 1958, DHR was made a part of the Northeast Frontier Railways. By the year 1992-93, DHR had been converted into a recreational toy train service,  most of the locos, as well as coaches, withdrawn, keeping only a few in service.

Pls click on the particular image in case you wish to see the full image


  • Seven interesting facts about Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
    DHR waiting for guests
  • Seven interesting facts about Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
    Let's discover DHR
  • Engine Driver - DHR railways
    Engine Driver - DHR
  • Workmen building up the steam in the Locos
    Getting the Steam Locos ready
  • Seven interesting facts about Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
    Men among men -DHR

Seven interesting facts on Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

DHR was the very first Hill Railway in India , starting operations in 1881
The very first edifice in India to be accorded the tag of UNESCO Heritage Site
The train in its journey of 88 km passes through 5 major & 500 minor bridges, an engineering marvel indeed.
GHUM is the second highest railway station in the world reached by a steam locomotive.
The toy train climbs from an altitude of 100 m @New Jalpaiguri to 2200 m @Darjeeling over a mere 88 Km.
During World War II, DHR was used fortrasnporting men & material.
The steam locomotives currently in use were built by the North British Locomotive Company between 1889 & 1925.The age of these locos todate is mind boggling.

My points for the reader

Now that we have seen the seven interesting facts about the UNESCO recognised Darjeeling Himalayan Railway as well the historical timelines, let me speak about my experience.

We all should endeavour to take any of the toy train routes mentioned above to travel at least once on this unique Hill Railway.
There are only three toy train Hill Railways in India & we should savour their services at least once in our lifetime.
The route from NJP is long & slow. So until you are a diehard train fan , i would ask you to opt out of this particular route.
My recommendation is the Darjeeling-Ghum (steam loco ) toy train route or the Kurseojng -Darjeeling( diesel loco) route.
The diesel loco also runs on the Darjeeling-Ghum sector.
Tickets can be booked online using the IRCTC website. Strongly recommend this option.
Do enjoy the Batasia Loops, for one can see the Kanchenjunga ranges in the distant background and the Gurkha War memorial in the foreground , it is an iconic moment indeed.
Visit the rail museum @Ghum station as well as the steam loco shed @Darjeeling.
Toilets are an issue at the railway stations as well as on the coaches , so keep this in mind.
The steam loco services are costlier , priced at 1600 INR per person.
The cleanliness standard might not be up to the mark. Additioanly Darjeeling town has grown over the years, so the train will pass very close to community households through the town which will obstruct the views of the mountains that one expects to see.

Pls click on the particular image in case you wish to see the full image


  • Seven interesting facts about Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
    Steam Loco in full glory
  • Seven interesting facts about Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
    Past & Present
  • Men of DHR
    Engine Driver - DHR
  • Seven interesting facts about Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
    Monochrome glory

Some suggestions which I feel which would be beneficial for DHR

These are a few points which came to my mind which i feel if implemented would go a long way in making the experience truly memorable.

The experience could be made more personal and interesting .
Rail guides in coaches to narrate the various anecdotes associated with DHR as well as point put the various scenic locations. A smart voiceover could also be done to sync in with the train movement in absence of guides.
Memorabilia could be sold at Kisoks at the main stations to promote DHR
Vintage tea cafes could be operated to promote the unique teas of this region while guests wait for the train journey commencement.
Welcome Tea onboard would be anpersonal touch towards the guest.
Cleanliness at the stations and modern lighting would go a long way in elevating the entire feel of the place.
Photo tours could be thought of for photography enthusiasts.
Modern washrooms are the need of the hour.

I hope you enjoyed the visuals of DHR as well as come to know about the seven interesting facts that make the UNESCO recognised Darjeeling Himalayan Railway unique amongst the other train journeys in India.

Read: The reader may like to read about another interesting journey & experience. This one from the famous Manali-Leh Highway.

In case you are interested in further visuals ranging from architecture to travel destinations , flora and fauna of India; so do click on below mentioned link.

https://www.traveldreamsbysumit.com/

My recommended read on Kindle !!

A classic tale of adventure set in World War II in the forzen North of the Globe … this has been one of my favourites

Do follow and connect with me on Instagram, look forward to that !!!!

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31 Replies to “Seven Interesting facts of UNESCO recognised Darjeeling Himalayan Railway”

  1. Visuals are as always stunning . Your post reminds me of the days back in school when I used to go to Shimla for the summer vacations . And that’s when I got an opportunity to get onto these steam engines short gauge railways on Kalka-Shimla route . A slow and steady journey but oh boy it was really refreshing . I used to hop off hop on at almost every station to get the feel of the mountains. Your post brings back nostalgia indeed . Keep writing more on these little epic experiences.

  2. Lovely photos, loved the tone of the images, very dreamy… Ghoom means sleep in Bengali.. And I always associated the DHR with a beautiful slumber and Tagore

    1. m glad for the insight …. was trying to frame the pics in a different way , i guess i was able to achieve something … thanks 🙂

  3. What an excellent detailed post on this Railway! The Darjeeling-Ghum (steam loco ) route sounds superb. I always enjoy a train adventure when traveling. We spent 7 weeks traveling throughout India, taking the Indian Railways several times. Now that was an experience! Glad I spotted your post on Twitter! Robert 🙂

    1. Yes the Hill Railway System are only three and these are run for tourism these days. Definitely a must visit in India . Will definitely check out your link , do follow the blog if it appeals to you

      1. Thank you! I’ll check it out. India has always been one of those places I’ve dreamed of going to. It’s absolutely breath taking! The people and culture, the art, the architecture, the history. I really love everything about it.

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