Weather :

Time Required : 2-4 hours

Entry Fee : Diesel Engine Rides: INR 600 onwards (All first class seats)
Steam Engine Rides: INR 1,000 onwards (All first class seats)

Timings : 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Darjeeling Overview

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway also referred to as the DHR, and lovingly called the 'Darjeeling Toy Train', is a 2 feet narrow gauge train that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, in West Bengal, India. The construction of this 88-kilometre long railway line took place between 1879 and 1881, and a ride on this train route has been a coveted experience ever since. A journey in the Darjeeling Toy Train has amazing sights with pleasing mountain views and pass by villages and local shops on the way, with children merrily waving at them. 

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway provides significant transport links between various parts of the Darjeeling hills and lower plains and is a piece of sheer engineering inventiveness and vision. How else can a small steam engine pull mini coaches up the steep mountains by overcoming almost unfeasible curves and gradients? This is perhaps why the Darjeeling Toy Train was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 2 December 1999. Later on, two more railway lines were added, and the site came to be known as the Mountain Railways of India. A ride on such a heritage transport is no doubt a relaxing and charming one but is also prestigious because this train is what once provided the first and most important mountain transportation link in the country.

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The Toy Train Joyride- Darjeeling to Ghum and back

The joyride from Darjeeling up to Ghum and back is a two-hour round trip that covers a total distance of 14 kilometres. Located at the height of 2225.7 metres above the sea level, Ghum is the highest altitude station on the entire DHR track. The train stops for 10 minutes at the Batasia Loop, where it makes a loop around a beautiful and well-maintained garden. From here, one can easily get a bird's eye view of the Darjeeling town, and the snow-capped Kanchenjunga peaks. The War Memorial in honour of the Gorkha soldiers is also located here, in the centre of the garden. The train also stops for 30 minutes for a visit to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway museum. This museum is located on the station premises and boasts of having the oldest toy train engine safely preserved here.

A total of 18 rides in all take place throughout the day, beginning at 7:40 AM. The last ride commences at 4:20 PM. Keep in mind that the timings and number of rides change depending on seasonal demands.

As per your preference, you can choose a steam engine hauled train or one that has a diesel engine. The steam engine train offers an authentic and traditional experience but is costlier than the diesel engine train rides.
Diesel Engine Rides: INR 800 (all first class seats)
Steam Engine Rides: INR 1,300 (all first class seats)
These are the fares for a round trip, i.e. Darjeeling- Ghum- Darjeeling and include the entry fee for the DHR Museum. No tickets are required for children below five years of age.

The Toy Train Jungle Safari- Siliguri to Rangtong and back

The Toy Train Jungle Safari operates between Siliguri Junction and Rangtong Station. This three-hour round trip train safari takes you to Rangtong, which is a small village on the roadside, located at an altitude of 1,404 feet, and is 16 kilometres away from the Siliguri Junction. The Jungle Safari takes passengers through the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, which is located around Sukna and Rangtong station. The safari is a great treat for nature lovers and offers breathtaking views of the valley from Tindharia.

The schedule of the Toy Train Safari Ride:
The train leaves Siliguri Junction at 10:30 AM and reaches Rangtong at 11:50 AM, where it halts for 20 minutes. The train arrives back at the Siliguri Junction at 1:35 PM. The entire trip takes about 3 hours.

A round trip in a first class coach costs INR 610 per head.

Darjeeling Toy Train Bookings

The process of booking a seat in Darjeeling Himalayan Railway railways is similar to that of any other train. You can book tickets either online through the Indian Railway's official website, or at any computerised reservation counter.

History of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

The story of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway dates back to the 1800's when Indian was under the British colonial rule. During those times, Darjeeling had become a well-known hill station and many Englishmen, mostly from Kolkata, would visit this hill station with their families. Consequently, the traffic in this part of the country increased significantly. This journey, from Kolkata to Darjeeling, was originally a long and tedious one, which took well over two weeks. Even after the development of some railway lines by the Eastern Bengal Railways and Northern Bengal Railways, the ascend to Darjeeling continued to remain a major problem.

The birth of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway took place when Franklin Prestage, an agent of the Eastern Bengal Railways, visited Darjeeling in 1878 and realised the need to connect Siliguri with Darjeeling through railways. He submitted a proposal to the government for a privately run train to the hills and mentioned numerous advantages that his plan offered. The proposal was readily accepted by the government and in 1879; the railway and track construction finally began.
Even though it was challenging to lay the lines along such steep slopes, great innovative ideas eventually led to the development of this engineering marvel.

Tips

1. Make sure you book your tickets well in advance especially during the high season. 2. Try and book your tickets before you reach Darjeeling just to be sure. 3. One can buy tickets online on India Railway site irctc.co.in

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