Visiting the world heritage sites can be cliché on a bucket list but imagine riding some of them! The Mountain Railways of India comprising of three magnificent rail routes from different parts of the country offer an unparalleled experience of traditional train journeys. These railways got into the Unesco World Heritage sites due to their historic significance and iconic infrastructure. With sharp curves and steep elevation, these trains can even provide an adventure of a lifetime.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
One of the oldest rail routes in India, the Siliguri – Darjeeling railway in West Bengal started operation in 1881. The toy train runs 88 km between the destinations with the highest elevation of 2300m at Ghoom station. The railway found its place in the Unesco World Heritage site in the year 1999 for its unique infrastructure and the steam locomotives. One can witness breathtaking views from the train while experiencing the traditional chugging. Darjeeling being one of the prominent hill stations in the country is famous for its tea plantations and is visited by a huge number of tourists every year. Wandering across the tea plantations and the toy train ride would be perfect for a memorable vacation.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The smallest route among the three, the Nilgiri mountain railway covers 46km from Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam (also known as Ooty) in Tamil Nadu. Covering 16 tunnels and 250 bridges between both the destinations, the train is an adventure in itself. The line uses one of the most unique technologies of rack and pinion along with steam engines due to the steepness of the route. In India one can encounter this feature of the rail line only in the Nilgiri mountain railway. The Nilgiri Mountain railway got into the Unesco World Heritage site in the year 2005. If Ooty is your destination for the holidays then travelling through the Nilgiri hills would be worth your time.
Through the foot hills of the Himalayan range, the narrow gauge rail line starts its six-hour journey from Kalka and finishes at Shimla. With the ice capped mountains surrounding the whole rail route, the train goes through 103 tunnels and 864 bridges. Stopping at 20 stations, the train offers beautiful panoramas near all of them. The Kalka-Shimla railway joined the other two on the list in the year 2008. Started in the year 1903, the railway was constructed by drilling off the hills and erecting many bridges which still stand firm. Travel over the multi-arched bridges of ancient Roman design and get lost in the breath taking nature of Himachal.