The Toy Train
09.09.2009 - 10.09.2009 21 °C
I caught an early train from Delhi bound for Kalka, so I could meet up with the “Toy Train” that would take me the rest of the way to Shimla. The Shimla railway has very narrow gauge, hence its nickname. The railway was completed in 1903 and starts in Kalka at an altitude of 500 metres and after 97 kilometres, 103 tunnels, 24 bridges, 18 stations and about 5.5 hours you reach Shimla at a height of over 2000 metres.
It’s a train trip that everyone enjoys. All the young people howl as the train goes through yet another tunnel, a ritual that happens on every trip, a railway manager sitting next to me explained. Just about everyone at some stage, hangs out the train so they can wave or chat to the passengers in the next carriages. In places it goes so slow you could jog beside it and by the time you reach Shimla many of the passengers are showing signs of altitude, by becoming sleepy and nodding off. A great trip!
Shimla is the place, during the time of the Raj that the colonials would come to get away from the pesky Delhi heat and by 1864 it was designated the Government of India’s official “hot season” HQ.
It still has that distinctly British feel, with its old colonial buildings and quaint shop fronts. In the season, it is a favourite holiday destination for well to do Indians.
As you can see from my photos, it rained for my entire overnight stay. It was so cold and wet that after returning from one of my walkabouts I had the wistful notion of calling up the Red Cross, so they could stretcher me, back to my hotel. Good sense prevailed; I gave myself a good uppercut and a stiff talking to and soldiered on.