Kalka Shimla Heritage Toy Train
The Kalka Shimla Heritage Toy Train is a big attraction for tourists going to Shimla. The train runs on a narrow gauge rail track and connects various small towns dotted on the Himalayan slopes between Kalka and Shimla. The heritage train, 112 years old, was inaugurated way back in 1903 by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India. It indeed is a great example of British Engineering. Even to this day, the controls of the heritage train remain the same as during the British regime right from the signals to the narrow gauge track though the steam engine has been replaced by a modern diesel engine. In the year 2008, the toy train was granted the status of a World Heritage Site by Unesco. It indeed is wonderful to experience this rich heritage.
The toy train meanders its way slowly around the steep mountain slopes offering spectacular views of the Himalayan ranges with dense Pine forests all around. During its 5 hour journey between Kalka and Shimla, the train steadily climbs from a height of 2100 ft to 5100 ft. There are 20 halts en-route which include stations at Parwanoo, Barog, Dharampur, Solan and Kandaghat to name a few. The tenth one, Barog, is a small, beautiful and quaint railway station with a canteen which is very popular with the regulars on this train. One can grab a snack, meal or a steaming cuppa to beat the mountain chill which begins to set in.
During this charming journey covering 75 kilometers, the Kalka Shimla train passes through 900 bends, 102 tunnels and 800 bridges. The bridges with unique multi-storeyed arched structures are a great attraction on this route. In many sections which have railway gates to regulate road traffic, the heritage train never fails to attract immense attention from the crowds waiting at the gates. It is a common sight to see them waving, taking pictures of the Kalka Shimla toy train and looking at the ones on board with envy!
During the summer months from April to July, the frequency of the toy train is increased to accommodate the tourist influx. Though the train journey takes an hour longer to reach Shimla as compared to road travel, it does give you the feeling of being transported back in time. While the regular compartments have wooden seats, the first class compartments have cushioned seats. All compartments are equipped with toilets and large glass windows for unobtrusive views. The last compartment is reserved for ladies.
Trains and Timings
Tickets can be booked through irctc.co.in for the following trains
If you plan to take a train from Kalka to Shimla, specially during the summer months, it will be advisable to book your tickets at least a few weeks in advance.