Fancy a ride through the breathtaking landscapes of majestic Himalayas, lush green valleys and zigzag meanders? Get yourself on a Kalka Shimla Railway.
The journey provides a far reaching grotesque view of the Himalayas from the foothills of Shivalik Himalaya. The train slowly slips out of Northern plains of Kalka in the early morning hours for the Shivaliks, passing through 917 sharp curves, 102 tunnels and 988 bridges on the way.
A 100 years ago, only British government officers and bureaucrats used to travel to the erstwhile capital ‘Simla’ or back. The train hasn’t changed much, restored vintage carriages from the early 1900s. In 2008, Kalka Shimla Railway was made a part of the coveted UNESCO World Heritage sites.
As a boy
As a boy I stood on the edge of the railway-cutting,
Outside the dark tunnel, my hands touching
The hot rails, waiting for them to tremble
At the coming of the noonday train.
The whistle of the engine hung on the forest’s silence.
Then out of the tunnel, a green-gold dragon
Came plunging, thundering past—
Out of the tunnel, out of the dark.
And the train rolled on, every day
Hundreds of people coming or going or running away—
I haven’t seen you again, bright boy at the carriage window,
Waving to me, calling,
But I’ve loved you all these years and looked for you
In cities and villages, beside the sea,
In the mountains, in crowds at distant places;
Returning always to the forest’s silence,
To watch the windows of some passing train….
– Ruskin Bond
The journey enlivens the passengers as it gradually winds its way steeply upwards along the narrow track, though mystical mountains and pine forests. The train runs on the narrow gauge, reason it’s called a toy train. It is a slow trundle at 20-30 kilometres per hour.
The train keeps moving to higher altitude arduously and halts at several places where tourists can disembark, capture the spectacular glimpse of nature in their cameras and take home a lot of memories with them.
Kalka Shimla toy train journey is sure to leave an indelible mark on your psyche.