UNESCO Mountain Railways of India
NILGIRI RAILWAYS

UNESCO Mountain Railways of India

A World heritage site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention guarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization. India is a proud country to have 38 world heritage sites listed on the UNESCO list.

India is a home to diversities right from mountains, deserts, beaches, valleys and many other natural as well as man-made beauties. As mentioned above there are about 38 world heritage sites located in India which includes 30 cultural while 8 natural sites.

These railways built during the British colonial period which stimulated population movements between the plains and the mountains are the fine examples of impact of technology and innovation over a period of time. The Mountain Railways of India which includes the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, The Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka- Shimla Railway are collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Steam Engine train
Mountain railways of India

 

  1. DARJEELING HIMALAYAN RAILWAY:

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway received the honours first in 1999 by the UNESCO as a world heritage site. This railway is a two feet narrow gauge railway that links Siliguri and Darjeeling, which is near about 88 kilometers apart. Its elevation starts at 100 meters at New Jalpaiguri railway station and rises to about 2200 meters at Darjeeling railway station. This train is known as the Toy Train between the locals and is operated by the Indian railways.

DISTANCE FROM MAIN CITY: 8 kilometers from Siliguri.

COST OF TRANSPORTATION: 390/- INR per person.

HOW TO GET THERE: You can reach the station by bus/ train/ cab. The railway station is well connected to Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.

TIMINGS: Departure: 10:00, Arrival: 17:20 every day.

MUST TRY FOOD:

    1. Thukpa

Place: Devekas restaurant.

Timings: 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM.

Cost for two: 500/- to 700/- INR.

    1. The traditional Nepali thali.

Place: Revolver restaurant.

Timings: 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM and 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.

Cost for two: 500/- to 600/- INR.

    1. The Naga cuisine.

Place: Revolver restaurant.

Timings: 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM and 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.

Cost for two: 300/- to 400/- INR.

    1. Churpe:

Place: Keventers.

Timings: 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM.

Cost for two: 400/- INR

BEST TIME TO VISIT:

    1. Between March to May.
    2. Between mid-October to December.

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS:

    1. Salugara Monastery:

HISTORY: This monastery was established by Tibetan Buddhist Monks and followers of Dalai Lama. It is famous for its 100 feet tall stupas.

ENTRY TICKETS: No entry fees.

CAMERA PERMITS: Prohibited.

TIMINGS: 5:30 AM to 6:30 PM.

    1. ISKCON temple Siliguri:

HISTORY: It was built in dedication to Lord Krishna. There is an art auditorium in the temple which has a seating capacity of 500 people.

ENTRY TICKETS: No entry tickets.

CAMERA PERMITS: Not prohibited.

TIMINGS: 4:30 AM to 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM to 8:30 PM every day.

    1. Japanese Peace Pagoda:
buddha
Japanese Peace Pagoda

 

HISTORY: Japanese Peace Pagoda was built focusing on people of all races and creeds to help them unite in their search for world peace.

ENTRY TICKETS: No entry fees.

CAMERA PERMITS: Not prohibited.

TIMINGS: 4:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

 

  1. THE NILGIRI MOUNTAIN RAILWAYS:

The Nilgiri mountain railway is the only railway in India that uses ABT rack system and travels through the Nilgiri hills, which are popularly known as the Blue Mountains. It was added to the list of Mountain railways of India in 2005 by UNESCO. It is a 46 kilometers single line railway that connects Mettupalayam with Udagamandalam. The railway line contains about 16 tunnels and 250 bridges and takes about 5 hours for the uphill journey while 4 hours for the downhill journey.

view from a train
Nilgiri Mountain Railway

 

DISTANCE FROM MAIN CITY: 36 kilometers from Coimbatore.

COST OF TRANSPORTATION: 450/- INR per person

HOW TO GET THERE: You can reach the station by bus/ train/ cab. . The railway station is well connected to Mumbai and Delhi.

TIMINGS: Departure: 7:10, Arrival: 12:00 every day.

MUST TRY FOOD:

    1. Chicken Chettinad

Place: Hotel junior Kuppanna.

Timings: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

Cost for two: 500/- INR.

    1. Biryanis:

Place: Haribhavanam.

Timings: 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

Cost for two: 600/- INR.

    1. South Indian food:

Place: Anjappar Chettinad Restaurant.

Timings: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

Cost for two: 400/- INR.

BEST TIME TO VISIT: April- May.

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS:

    1. Botanical gardens:

HISTORY: The government botanical garden in Ooty is a massive garden spread across 55 hectors with over 650 species of flowers and trees.

ENTRY TICKETS: 30/- INR per person.

CAMERA PERMITS: Not Prohibited. But you have to pay extra 100/- INR for Camera.

TIMINGS: 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM.

    1. Toda Huts:
Toda Hut Ooty
Toda Hut Ooty

 

HISTORY: Todas are the local tribes of Ooty and live in bamboo huts which have small entrances and no windows, where one needs to bend to enter the huts.

ENTRY TICKETS: No entry tickets.

CAMERA PERMITS: Not prohibited.

TIMINGS: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

    1. Doddabetta peak:

HISTORY: Doddabetta is the highest peak in the Nilgiris at an elevation of 8600 feet which offers a panoramic view and also has a telescope house were travellers can watch the surroundings through.

ENTRY TICKETS: 10/- INR per person

CAMERA PERMITS: Not prohibited.

TIMINGS: 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM.

 

  1. THE KALKA- SHIMLA RAILWAY:

The Kalka- Shimla railway runs 96 kilo meters long on a narrow gauge. The railway line was constructed by the Delhi- Ambala- Kalka railway company, prior which the only access to Shimla was by village cart ways. This route contains 103 tunnels and 864 bridges. The trace climbs from 650 meters at Kalka to an elevation of 2076 meters at Shimla.

railway tracks
Kalka Shimla Railway Line

 

DISTANCE FROM MAIN CITY: 1.5 kilometers away from Kalka bus stand.

COST OF TRANSPORTATION: Varies from 270/- to 510/- from train to train.

HOW TO GET THERE: You can reach the station by bus/ train/ cab.

TIMINGS: Departure: 5:45 AM, Arrival: 10:35 AM every day.

                       Departure: 6:20 AM, Arrival: 11:35 AM every day.

                       Departure: 12:10 AM, Arrival: 5:30 PM every day.

MUST TRY FOOD:

    1. Madra:

Place: Chamba and kangra.

Timings: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

Cost for two: 400/- INR

    1. Chha Gosht:

Place: Eighteen71 cookhouse and bar.

Timings: open 24 hours

Cost for two: 600/- INR

    1. Chicken Anardana:

Place: Eighteen71 cookhouse and bar.

Timings: open 24 hours.

Cost for two: 600/- INR

    1. Sidu:

Place: Himachali Rasoi.

Timings: 12:00 AM to 9:30 PM.

Cost for two: 300/- INR

BEST TIME TO VISIT: between May to January.

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS:

    1. Shimla mall road:
Shimla mall road
Shimla mall road

 

    • HISTORY: Mall road is the main street in Shimla located a level below the Ridge. You can go shopping and hogging on food here.
    • ENTRY TICKETS: No entry fees.
    • CAMERA PERMITS: Not Prohibited.
    • TIMINGS: 9:30 AM to 11:00 PM.
    1. Green valley:
    • HISTORY: Green valley is a beautiful and breath taking mountain range that falls on the way to Kurfi from Shimla.
    • ENTRY TICKETS: No entry tickets.
    • CAMERA PERMITS: Not prohibited.
    • TIMINGS: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
    1. Johnnie’s wax museum:
    • HISTORY: Opened on May 11, 2016 by the chief minister features wax statues of 16 widely recognized people from different backgrounds.
    • ENTRY TICKETS: 250/- INR per person.
    • CAMERA PERMITS: Not prohibited.
    • TIMINGS: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Train
Train

 

The British colonization of India left behind a lot of institutions from which at least one is being maintained and cherished very well until now and that are these serpentine tracks of railways through the mountains. The famous ‘Chaiya Chaiya’ song from the movie Dil se was shot on the top of the Nilgiri mountain train. Don’t miss out on the journeys that take you in the middle of wonderlands.