INTERESTING FACTS FIGURES & QUOTES-47: THE MOUNTAIN RAILWAYS OF INDIA

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    We often call it the Toy-Train, that chugs on, the Kalka-Shimla, UNESCO, world heritage railway track.

    The mountain railways of India, is now collectively designated as world heritage site, by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and is still, fully functional, and operational.

    Three railways form this heritage site—The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, The Nilgiri Mountain Railway and The Kalka-Shimla Railway. These mountain railways are over hundred years old and known the world over for their engineering and scenic views. The mountain railways of India were first declared a heritage site in 1999. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was the first to be declared and the remaining two followed suit. Let us analyse them one by one.

KALKA-SHIMLA RAILWAY

    The train runs between Kalka and Shimla. This narrow gauge railway was built in 1898 by the British to connect their summer capital of Shimla, with the rest of the Indian Rail System. H.S. Hanington was the Chief Engineer of the project. At the time of its construction, nearly 107 tunnels and 864 bridges were built throughout its course.

    Kalka-Shimla Railway is a recent addition to the heritage list, after it was added by UNESCO as an extension of the Mountain-Railways of India in 2008.

THE NILGIRIS MOUNTAIN RAILWAYS

    This high altitude railway connects Udhagamandalam (Ooty) and Mettupalayam. Its construction was first proposed in 1854, but commenced only in 1891. Construction of this 45.88 km long metre-gauge single-track railway got completed in 1908. It has the steepest track in Asia. The train passes through 16 tunnels, 208 curves and over 250 bridges. It scales from a height of 326 metres to 2203 metres.

    It was added to the mountain railways of India heritage in 2005 by UNESCO. Prior to its entry, the heritage site was known as Darjeeling Himalayan Railways.

THE DARJEELING HIMALAYAN RAILWAY

    Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was the first railway to be inscribed by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1999. The other railways were added later. It is a narrow-guage railway that connects New-Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. Construction commenced in 1879 and got completed in 1881. It runs for a distance of nearly 88 km. It travels through different elevations from 100 metres to 2258 metres. Ghum at 2258 metres is the highest station on this route and also in India. Batasia Loop is one of the most scenic points on the route.

So hop on to these beautiful trains that chug through the mighty mountains of India.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

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