Toy Train - UNESCO World Heritage Site
AN ELGIN EXCLUSIVE FEATURE By Katyayini Kesharwani
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.
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.
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.