A rail journey through the clouds by the renowned Darjeeling Himalayan Railway to visit Darjeeling, which offers a breathtaking view of four mountain peaks – the Everest, Kanchendzonga, Makalu and Lhotse.
Darjeeling is one of the oldest hill stations in India.

During the British Raj, Darjeeling's temperate climate attracted the ruling British headquartered at Calcutta who frantically sought to escape the summer heat of the plains. But they found the 3-day journey to Darjeeling, covering a steep distance of 600 kilometers interspersed with rivers to be too difficult. Although they could reach Siliguri from Calcutta by train, they had to use horse drawn carts or tongas to go further to Darjeeling. Interestingly, the main road connecting Siliguri and Darjeeling is still known as the Hill Cart Road.

Train leaving Siliguri
The British then built the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway between 1879 and 1881 and is about 88 km long. It takes 6 hour to reach Darjeeling by the toy train from Siliguri Junction through a breath-taking and gorgeous terrain to Darjeeling.

Nicknamed the "Toy Train", the train is powered by a steam engine and runs on a track made narrow to help the train go through safely the sharp turns of the hills. It requires four men to operate the engine, two inside the engine and two to pour sand on the track in order to increase the grip of the wheels over the track.

The train runs on a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge railway, going from an elevation of 100 m (328 ft) at Siliguri to about 2,200 m (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling.

As the line had to overcome an ascent of 7,000 ft. in less than fifty miles, it has a series of zig zags and loops to gain height.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a line so close to the people that it flows like a river through their lives. The line runs on roads that pass through markets and village main streets!

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Many remnants of Victorian British era remain in Darjeeling. You will find many Tibetan refugees who moved here after Tibet was annexed by China, and many Nepali laborers who work in tea plantations. This gives the place an aura of cultural diversity. Apart from the many beautiful monasteries dotting the landscape, you will also enjoy the breathtaking views of waterfalls, green valleys with pine trees that are often hidden by cloud, and at its end the splendid panorama of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga range.
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10/23/2012 8:02am

Lovely write up, Uma. Good to see you here!


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