The narrow-gauge railways of India are lovingly called Toy trains. They are an heirloom of the British and equally inspire locals and guests from around the world to this day hardly any travelers in India. seat depending on the season five to seven trains run every day from Kalka for the short ninety-six point five-kilometer journey ,
However it takes five and a half to six hours sometimes even longer for instance when excursion trains for the well-to-do are slotted in between then the scheduled train was waiting at one of the 18 stations because the line only has a single track and only one train can travel between each station.
The journey begins around 400 kilometers to the north of today’s capital Delhi and leads almost exclusively through the province of Himachal Pradesh to the foothills of the Himalayas to Shimla to the city that was the summer residence of the British Indian government for over 80 years until 1947 the kalka-shimla line is a masterpiece of British engineering a superb technical and architectural achievement that was built over 120 years ago it was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2008 most of the more than 900 bridges many of them viaducts are in their original condition more than two-thirds of the route is curved after almost an hours travel the train crosses the longest bridge almost 100 meters long there are a hundred and three tunnels on a route of only ninety-six point five kilometers another superlative for a line that is over 100 years old what’s more on its relatively short journey the train to Shimla manages to negotiate an altitude difference of 1,400 meters until 1971 the six or seven carriages were drawn by steam locomotives since then diesel engines have transported passengers at a top speed of 25 km/h the line was inaugurated in 1891 by the Viceroy of the time Lord Curzon after a construction period of only two years. Twelve years later the first passenger train traveled to Shimla the government summer residence was finally connected to the railway network what previously had to be transported by thousands of porters and mules from Calcutta and later from Delhi to Shimla to run government business could now be transported by the river to this day travelers from all around the world benefit from the British idea of building a railway in this extremely difficult terrain although the journey time on the good. Road nearby has been much shorter for many years trains are still almost always fully booked.
It’s impossible to be as relaxed in a car as one can be in this comfortable compartment even though the gauge of the track is only 76 centimeters most of the viaducts are curved and are therefore easily visible during the journey many of the stations including this one in PAL imports were built near bridges or tunnels the buildings were used by the construction workers for lodging new tender. Singh is enthusiastic about his work as a train driver on this unusual route for the last 17 years. I’m very proud to be able to drive this train because I love this country very much. I also like the many visitors from other countries who come here to ride on the train and when people come to make such a film here I’m also very happy because it means even more foreigners will visit my country it’s often difficult to get a ticket while on the train what is common practice on other lines is prohibited here clusters of people hanging outside on the carriages. No wonder considering all the tunnels this time the stop lasted only a few minutes we continue along the endless bends towards Shimla.
Even people who don’t travel by train use the track in this often rough terrain these people will never be unemployed on this line over 200 track workers ensure the safety of passengers while more fact all 919 bends have an extra safety track on the inside of the track making it nearly impossible for the train to derail busy activity at one of the most beautiful stations on the line baroque every train stops here for at least 10 minutes after all passengers need provisions food and drink is only available in the luxury trains with a beautiful name Shivalik deluxe Express but they are only used for special services. The train driver throws are a small but very important part of the safety system out of his window as he arrives at the station.
The British developed it especially for single-track lines station master sitar Amina explains its purpose to Shimla has existed since 1903 and ever since we’ve used this block instrument as a communication tool between stations a station must insulin the next stop gives this token to clear the track for use from here in baroque to solar after being cleared I can remove the token from the instrument I then pass it on to the signal box operator who gives it to the train driver he can drive to the next station with the token only when the token has been put into the block instrument as it’s called can the continuing journey be cleared by the second machine the same applies to the train traveling in the other direction which is now arrived in barrel and will continue on towards Calcutta for travelers the stop at Beryl station is a welcome break.
Meanwhile, the stationmaster’s assistant hands the token to the train driver the train will depart in just a few minutes the key in the station office is also part of the safety system it’s the only way to set the points and signal
for a continued journey a simple but effective concept it’s been working for passenger travel for almost a hundred and ten years the diesel locomotives are not quite that old they’d been around for up to 39 years and all come from Germany hidden beneath the long bonnet a six-cylinder 700 horsepower engine trim.
Singh has been responsible for cleanliness at his station for 36 years and not just on the platform baroque has, even more, to offer especially for true railway enthusiasts who value the atmosphere here that is also part of Prem Singh’s job who proudly guides us round yes this is our guest house, we also have a restaurant where the food is really good, we also have room for railway staff it’s all well organized and above all despite the road to Shimla, the railway line has lost none of its popularity what better way is there to enjoy the leisurely journey through the mountainous landscape which reveals a new aspect after if returned anyone traveling from Calcutta Shimla, however, must sit in the dark for almost eight kilometers work on the tunnels which are mainly curved was extremely challenging for the engineers of the 19th century.
After more than an hour’s ride away from Barog, we encounter the first houses in the district of Seoul the train now passes through a developed area covering several kilometers train travel is generally cheap in India normally bus tickets are at least three or four times as expensive but the Kalka-Shimla railway is an exception passengers must dig deep into their pockets to enjoy such comfort and beauty.
A one-way trip in a standard class car like this one costs around 300 rupees plus seat reservation that’s a total of 8 or 9 euros almost twice as much as an average worker earns in a day since many people use the track as a walkway the tunnels have passing points on each side. Solan station lies right behind tunnel number 38 it’s roughly the halfway point of the journey. Solan lies around fourteen hundred and forty meters above sea level the train has already managed a height gain of eight hundred meters and Solan is worth a stop for some passengers the small but vibrant town is at least a temporary destination it attracts tourists and businessman alike Solan is typical for India noisy and bustling cars, motorcycles, tuk-tuks and pedestrians on streets with our pavements all create a chaotic model that is always miraculously resolved.
One of India’s most beautiful aspects there are delicacies on offer at every street corner and they can be enjoyed without too much concern most guesthouses and small hotels cook and bake the same way as here on the street many Indians know Solan by the name of champion uses a loose translation would be city of mushrooms because Solan is the most famous place in the country for mushroom cultivation the altitude provides ideal conditions hundreds of mushroom farms have been established in the town and the surrounding region because beneath owns one of them his employees are cooking wheat in enormous cauldrons it’s used as food for the master spores which are derived from fungus conscious the temperature and humidity in Solan provide ideal conditions for successful mushroom cultivation for 10 months in the year. The wheat was cooked for 20 to 30 minutes then calcium carbonate and calcium sulfate are added to achieve the required pH value to culture the mushrooms. The small sacks are taken to the sterilization room steam pressure ensures that later only mushroom spores will grow inside the sacks the process takes more than two hours the owner because venal began cultivating mushrooms in 1990 today he’s one of the most successful farmers in the country the sacks are only reopened in the hygiene room the master spores which were reared from the same fungus cultures are now added the fire ensures absolute sterility the compost also stems from the same facility and is now added to the master spores 20 employees produce and for most unbelievable 225 tons of mushrooms in 19 holes every year on peak days more than a thousand kilos of mushrooms are harvested.
The speaker’s penile also has a connection with the railway a very good experience of the Kalka-Shimla railway stand. When I was in schools in the 70s I used to go to school by this train from Burr Oak realization to Solan when I got my high studies at Shimla University I used to travel by this train from Brog lie relation to Shimla in 90s when I studied my mushroom farming there was no Road Transport here. I used to transport my mushroom from swollen to daily market by this thing and you know mushroom is a highly perishable product so when I have to send mushrooms by this train a lot of people ask me under heaven money for transporting mushrooms so then that was okay at that time and I enjoyed very well by using this chain a success story that is closely linked with the train line that the British mainly built to continue their government business in the milder Highland temperatures during the summer months rather than remain in the lowlands where it can often be 35 or 40 degrees hot .
The luxury train with the red carriages is mainly booked by tour groups a holiday trip over the impressive viaducts and through the breathtaking landscape can be enjoyed in comfort.
Locals often say the British who ruled India for almost a hundred years until its declaration of independence in 1947 left two good things behind democracy and a first-class railway network without it the chaos on the roads would be unbearable yet hardly any other train line in India attracts as many people as this one.
17 diesel locomotives are used today after scheduled services with steam engines finally ended in 1971 one will soon be running again after being restored. The diesel locomotives are maintained in these large halls at Kalka station. The hall where locomotives are regularly inspected and repaired is lovingly called the diesel barracks. 50 specialists have two main goals no train should ever be canceled on their behalf and of course no accidents should occur.
In diesel engines from locomotives, every part seems oversized almost nothing can be done here without a crane the men often work under time pressure even if sensitive parts need soldiering or welding at least 12 of the 17 locomotives must be available every day. Although the locomotives come from Germany, all spare parts are made in India. This testing station measures the durability of the suspension, maintenance work that is required every two years if the suspension passes the stress test its remounted onto the cylinders after all the locomotives need a lot of power since on average they climb one meter in altitude for every 33 that they travel that is what the British engineers calculated over a hundred and thirty years ago when they planned the route.
It’s reassuring to watch the men at work they radiate responsibility and Professionalism so does this trained metalworker Deep Singh working for five years in his workshop on the Kalka-shimla line. I love my work and help ensure we have as few faults and accidents as possible if everything runs smoothly our workshop has a good reputation for people from abroad. The Kalka-shimla railway is mainly a historical route if they arrive well and return home as satisfied passengers that’s positive for the whole country if someone is unmotivated in his work mistakes will happen that’s not good and is negative for our country.
The workshops director T tender Singh has a second important function a rescue train is always waiting on the tracks in Kalka ready for deployment in an emergency situation the 42 year old who has been working for Northern Railway for 17 years is the operation manager the West case scenario a train crash with many fatalities has never happened in the past but smaller accidents have last year. We had four accidents and faults the reasons were either engine failure or landslides as soon as an accident happens a siren raises the alarm then the rescue train must be ready within 30 minutes during the day and 40 minutes at night the men are on constant standby for this reason when they hear the sirens the first thing they do is connect the engine to the rescue train the rescue troops equipment allows them to start work immediately because once an accident has happened the losses must be minimal repair just taking my exam logo get John baptized again or whenever those who come Cara the pin Jorah garden is situated on the outskirts of Kalla Islamic art and landscape architecture from the height of the Mughal Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries palaces with a hitherto unheard of splendor were built here in.
Georgia garden with its waterworks is one of the few parks from this period that has survived to this day but other highlights await passengers on their way to Shimla between Solan and Carlo there are many unusual bridge structures to admire two more facts underline the great appreciation for this railway line 1200 passengers a day adding up to a total of 400,000 per year the most sublime structure is the arched bridge number five for one it covers four levels is over 50 metres high and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Anyone wishing to enjoy the beautiful landscape away from
The railway between salon and Shimla can make a stop at candor gut or Connell the channel region can be easily reached from here the fresh mountain air fascinating viewers and interesting day trip destinations have made shale a popular holiday region in recent years the Carly martyr temple was consecrated in 2005 in an exposed location on the 2300 meter high mountain of Carly Kart Tippa it’s dedicated to the Hindu goddess of the same name the now 80 year old sadhu Shambhu Bharti collected donations for 20 years in order to build the temple shadows are begging monks and our revered as holy men in India they seek enlightenment through constant penance and an ascetic lifestyle the son of the Builder brush Eshwar Bharti during the daily morning party a veneration ceremony many gods are woken by temple music washed clothes adorned head during the day and brought to sleeping chambers in the evening.
The view from up here is overwhelming progress is not without consequence pristine remote villages are now few and far between in this region of India only five or six remain one of them is young. It can only be reached this way or on foot through gorge and rhythmic luck ramp meter the village elder is on his way back to young with his two grandchildren they enjoy the two-minute journey they used to it but for the uninitiated it’s a real adventure. The cable car was only built five years ago 200 people formed a human chain to tow the cable through the gorge up into the village before the cable car villagers needed 40 or 50 minutes for the outward or return journey seventy-five people from nine families live in peaceful seclusion in young the climate is pleasant since the village is situated at an altitude of 1,600 meters. Most inhabitants make a living with agriculture and rearing farm animals however the son of the village elder is a teacher and his wife a lawyer the children have to go to school on the other side of the gorge the clay houses are up to 200 years old eight or nine people live in six to eight rooms the cattle are kept underneath the living quarters and the heat from their bodies rises in the winter, the roofs are covered in slate, pumpkins grow upon them, the quality of life in young cannot be measured by normal criteria the inhabitants have long passed the level of self-sufficiency especially since they’ve had better access to the road surplus products are sold at nearby markets families work closely together and profits are shared the interior of the homes has not changed much in the last 200 years although there’s now a small gas stove in the kitchen the tasty chapatis that the village elders wife and her daughter-in-law are baking for lunch must be prepared over an open fire . food in Yong is purely vegetarian the number of inhabitants in the small village has remained steady for a long time.
Lara meter is also optimistic about the future. I retired I’m constantly trying to bring progress to our village the most important was the cable car over the gorge it can also transport water for us and fodder for the animals I keep on telling people here that they should contribute to shaping the future ofcourse that applies to the people in the neighboring village as well. I’m not worried about the future though because my son for instance is building a new home for himself and his family just like that we’re old and should remain in our traditional home but I think the children should live in new ones according to their wishes Minge I’ve already out to be considering helping him as you come on tomorrow is market day in the town of kale so the tomatoes are making the unusual trip by cable car too young is a very special corner of the kalka-shimla region.
The Train is now on the next-to-last stage on its route to the former summer residence of the British Indian government. The town of Shimla is now within sight up on a mountain ridge but first there’s another brief stop beneath the town lies a well visited temple compound the front part is dedicated to the god Ganesha son of Parvati. Many Hindus come here every day to pray and bring offerings this bull Nandi is the divine mount of Shiva one of the three main gods of Hinduism. It simultaneously embodies destruction and renewal the priests and the monks in the rear part of the temple compound worship Shiva Brahma and especially the monkey god Hanuman as the son of a wind god. Hanuman even has the ability to fly from here it’s not far to the final destination of one of India’s most famous train routes even though Shimla can now be reached more conveniently by air , an altitude difference of 1,400 meters over a distance of only 96.5 kilometers lies behind us that’s even worth an entry in the Guinness book of records India’s largest and most popular hill station is situated on a 12 kilometer mountain ridge and covers its summit and slopes a road surrounds the lower town area while cars are not permitted in the upper area.
Many places of interest are closely connected with the city’s history which was strongly influenced by the British they took over the town in 1830. Today an elegant shopping promenade used to be a place where high society gathered and rode around in rickshaws with their uniformed drivers today it’s mainly native and foreign tourists that wander about in the early summer freshness the location began to grow popular in the mid 19th century as the British sought relief from too much of the Orient unlike Calcutta they could build Shimla according to their own ideas the most impressive building from this period is the vice-regal Lodge which was the Viceroy summer residence that was inaugurated in 1855. It was the seat of government until 1947 and it now houses a museum in 1971 the building made headline news once again throughout the world. Pakistani president Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed the Shimla treaty here it established a ceasefire in Kashmir between the two countries by defining a line of control since access to the upper promenade was reserved for British and Indian aristocracy a number of shopping streets developed along the steep slopes beneath they have the fitting name of lower Bazaar. This lower bazar has been able to retain its own unmistakable charm to this day. The countless alleys are not only great for shopping but also offer culinary delicacies.
The carefully planned holiday resort with British flair including elegant villas and stately Georgian mansions has changed very little only a few of the old manors have been turned into hotels for instance Woodville palace launching under a former royal roof well guarded the jabal royal family which resided alone here for a long time has a family tree that can be traced back over 1,000 years anyone staying here can still feelthat past Raja Rana sir Beckett of Jabal built this stately home his grandson schooled historian who was born in 1949 converted it into a hotel in 1977.
Guests can enjoy a cup of tea with Raj Kumar who died Singh the aristocrat still lives in the building has his family benefited from the train line the railroad came up in nineteen three and this building was purchased by my great-grandfather it used to be an old building made in the 1850s which my grandpa great-grandfather purchased in 1926 and in 1938 they demolished the old building and they made this new building so when you say the railroad the railroad came in handy that all the wood came from our former Kingdom which is called Jubal and there was no road to go to jabal which exists now so it had to go by a different route and then it came up to a place called Kalka and from Kalka. All the wood came up here as well as other building material by the train as well as the furniture which was all brought from England from the army and navy stores and different companies and it all came on the train
shimla described in 1817 via British inspector as a medium-sized village with a far who offers travelers water is now one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in northern India the exceptional journey to get there on the kalka-shimla railway undoubtedly plays a part since it not only inspires railway enthusiasts it’s a trip through a magnificent landscape over dizzying
bridges and precipices vast dense forests and through tunnels cut into the rock by sheer manual labour. The roughly six-hour journey on the so-called toy train is a trip into the past present and future of a nation that indeed has had a turbulent history and is today the largest democracy in the world.