Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Brief
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is lovingly called the "Toy Train". The Toy Train ride is a romantic approach to the Himalayas, a mysterious region. The landscape can only be described as spectacular and the views of the Himalayan peaks breathtaking. The Darjeeling Toy Train is one of the most famous narrow (2 feet ) gauge trains. At the 23rd Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was inscribed on the list of World Heritage sites. Only two railways have this status, the Semmering Railway in Austria being the other.

History
By 1878 a railway had been completed from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Siliguri, almost to the base of the Himalayas, and a tonga service took travelers thence up the hill portion of the journey. But the ascent by tongas soon led to dissatisfaction with this means of transit, and the idea for inception of the laying of a steam tramway along the road from Siliguri to Darjeeling arose. Mr. Franklin Prestage (at that time Agent of the Eastern Bengal Railway Company) approached the Government of Bengal in 1878 with a detailed scheme. Sir Ashley Eden, the Lieutenant-Governor, appointed a Committee to examine the project, and this Committee reported that the construction of a steam tramway was feasible and would be great advantage, both to the Government and the public. The cart road had indeed suffered heavily from slips during each rainy season and inconvenience and lengthy interruption to communications had resulted. Mr. Prestage's scheme was gladly accepted in 1879, and the construction of the tramway was commenced and pushed on with great rapidity. By March 1880 the line had been opened to Tindharia, and Lord Lytton, the first Viceroy to visit Darjeeling, was conveyed so far by the Company. Before the end of that year the line was complete to Kurseong, and in July 1881 it was opened for traffic right through to Darjeeling. The name of the Company was then changed to the more dignified appellation of the "Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company". Messrs. Gillanders Arbuthnot & Co., one of the leading and oldest firms in Calcutta, were appointed agents of the Company from its inception. 

Prime Attractions

The Joy Ride
This joy ride begins at New Jalpaiguri, a busy railway station in the plains. The plains are much more warmer than the hills and as the train climbs up the mountains the climate gets much colder. Therefore it is advisable to keep warm clothes handy as one needs them. Leaving New Jalpaiguri station the train passes through the outskirts of Siliguri town and reaches Siliguri station. After a short halt the train leaves Siliguri station and crosses the Mahanadi bridge over the Mahanadi river which flows from the Himalayan foothills. After six miles train reaches Sukna station from where the real ascent begins. The traveler can now notice the change of local people who have sharp mongoloid features and are mostly Nepali. From here the blue mountain ranges of the foothills are visible and the train quickly rises from the plain passing through tea gardens and forest of teak and sal.The journey new leads through Sonada (6552 ft. /2000m). As the train passes through Sonada bazar, one can get a glimpse of Tibetan chorten (stupa) on the way.The train now passes through a small town called Jorebunglow. Leaving Ghoom the train descends towards Darjeeling. On the way the train passes through Batasia Loop with its memorial to the Gorkha soldiers. From the Batasia Loop you can get a spectacular view of Darjeeling town with the Kanchenjunga and other snowy mountains in the back-drop. From now onwards uptill Darjeeling, the snowy peaks are in full view for the travelers' eyes. Finally the train enters the Darjeelins Station, the destination of the journey. Darjeeling, a town with all its charm and beauty awaits the weary traveler.