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Toy Train - UNESCO World Heritage Site


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UNESCO World Heritage Site, Toy Train Darjeeling

Ever fantasized to travel back in time? What if this time travel journey provided you with all the comfort and most importantly nostalgic scenes that can never escape your memory! Fortuitously, it is possible on ‘Toy Train’ of Darjeeling that will give you an authentic experience that dates back to the British colonial times. Darjeeling is a sumptuous feast to eyes with verdant hilly ambience. It has a chestful of salubrious air and above all, a delicacy of Darjeeling tea which is sipped all over the world with great relish. But the story will be incomplete without a loud mention of the Toy Train, the world heritage for the most pleasant ride in the green hilly tracks.

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The Toy Train of Darjeeling is an avenue for wanderlust.

Mr Franklin Prestage, an agent of the Eastern Bengal Railway Company put up a proposition to the Government of Bengal for emplacing a train line from Siliguri to Darjeeling. The government realized that the project was workable and would be for the greater good of the public and hence started its construction. It became operational by July 1881 and the name given to the railway line was “Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company”. It is also known as ‘Toy train’ as the loco engines and the coaches are way smaller than ordinary broad-gauge trains. The track is only 600 mm wide and it runs 88 km between the stops with the highest elevation of 2300m at Ghoom station. It was the fastest, easiest, and most comfortable way to reach Darjeeling which also offered cargo services.

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The loco engines of the Toy Train are unique in design.

The circling toy train up and back down the hill is like a virtuoso music maker, making a flute’s pleasant sober cry keeping pace with the rhythmic beat of its clinking wheels on the metallic railway track. Feels like the crescendo of celestial music of nature moving through the emitted clouds giving a feel of the cosmic journey. Up the hill, the music resembles ‘Aarohan’ and down the hill as ‘Avrohan’.  This celestial turn and twist of the musical octave is an exhilarating and memorable experience that redeems the toddlers’ joy to the riders of all ages.

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The Toy Train ride is a scintillating experience for tourists of all ages.
In 1897, a major earthquake mangled the railway, requiring the renovation of the route. DHR was in poor condition and Indian Railways tried to put an end to it. Several local people petitioned to keep DHR up and running and develop it as an attraction for tourists.The railway found its place in the UNESCO World Heritage site in the year 1999 for its social, cultural, economic, and industrial significance as a lifeline of India. It was the first industrial World Heritage Site in Asia and the second railway site globally at that time. It is still the most phenomenal example of a hill passenger railway. Incredibly creative in design and attained with skilled engineering in one of the most challenging locations. With 103 tunnels and 864 bridges, the laying of railway lines must have been a complex ordeal and at times very risky.
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If you never go You will never know.
The UNESCO “World Heritage” tag of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is under threat due to a lack of conservation efforts by the Indian authorities’ to maintain the site. UNESCO is consistently monitoring to ascertain whether it is worth the reputable global heritage status. Experience the joyride which is just a few kilometres away from The Elgin, Darjeeling. A short ride on the toy train can bestow you with the best views of Darjeeling ranging from the urban and agricultural plains, dense forests, quaint hilltops and the esteemed Himalayan pine and tea gardens. Operated on heritage steam engines, this magnificence is an experience to be cherished. Make sure to visit the most popular tourist attraction in Darjeeling and be enthralled by its splendour.

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