As a child, my parents told me these enticing stories of Darjeeling, world famous for its tea( now it has a geographic patent to prove it). The most exciting part of the stories were about the Darjeeling Toy Train ride that one could take from the plains of Siliguri to Darjeeling. For a child, nothing can be more enticing than a ride on the old world steam engine train. Well, I never got around to going to Darjeeling or riding the toy train in my childhood but the enticing stories remained locked away in my mind
So, when I visited Darjeeling some time back on a family holiday, I had to take a ride on the Darjeeling Toy Train, formally called as Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), which now is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Dareeling Himalaya Railway offers two types of rides DHR offers:-
  1. A full train ride from plains of Siliguri to Darjeeling, which takes travelers through all the stations and is approximately 8 hours ride. While this ride is the real deal and one can appreciate the magnitude of the construction, the heritage and effort its takes to keep the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway running in the present times, frankly, it takes up too much time (By taxi or bus, it takes only 1 and 1/2 hour on the same route).
  2. Joy Ride – There are 2 joy ride routes on offer, each of which is approximately 1 hour long. On route is Darjeeling-Ghum and other one is Siliguri-Sukna.
Since we were staying in Darjeeling, we opted for the joy ride from Darjeeling to Ghum & back. We booked online from the DHR website much in advance (which turned out to be really good decision and these rides are pre-booked weeks in advance). 
We arrived on the station an hour before the joy ride was about to start and there was such a buzz!! Travelers, both Indian and from all over the world were admiring the smaller width tracks, the old world platforms and the cute little engines being prepped up for action.

Soon, the steam engine came chugging along, blowing steam & whistling loudly along with the carriage. It was such a grand entry and all of the travelers went click click, taking numerous photos of the engine and the carriages inside( we did too). The engine drivers, the train ticket collector  were also in original uniforms & the tickewaving those old time red & green flags. 
We sat down in our designated seats and after some time, the train started off from the station and chugged along towards Ghum. The train route goes through heavily populated areas of Darjeeling town, through some forested areas and some very lovely views of the mountains. When we passed through the main town, the distance between the shops, houses & the train was so less that I could have easily took out my hand and picked up something from the open displays of the shop or the gardens of the houses. 
Midway, the train suddenly  stopped and we thought oh gosh!! its broken down!! But it was nothing of  that sort as the train driver told us all that since the engine is old, it needs to cool down & that’s why at this point, water is poured into it. As it was being done, all the passengers (including me) , took the opportunity to click some touristy pics inside and &outside the train.

Again, the toy train started off and this time, it stopped at Batasia Loop, a spiral created in the route so that the track spirals around over itself through a tunnel and over a hilltop. It also happens to be one the most picturesque views of the Darjeeling toy train joy ride route. In the mornings, one can see a clear view of the Kanchenjunga, which ofcourse we could not see because it was afternoon & clouds gather by this time (We went again in the morning another day but that shall be a separate post!!).
The joy ride again resumed after some time from Batasia Loop, and our next (and last stop) on the joy ride  was  Ghum Railway Station. The Ghum Railway station happens to be highest railway station in India, situated at an altitude of 2,258 metres. It also has a Darjeeling Himalaya Rail Museum, inside the railway station itself, which showcases interesting historical facts & images about DHR. The toy train again takes a rest here as the passengers visit the museum & have snacks. And then, its again a wonderful ride back to Darjeeling. 
I absolutely loved the Darjeeeling Himayala Toy Train joy ride, it was everything that my parents had told me about and much more. I felt like a kid again & so did the rest of my family (in laws and husband that is!!).
If you are in Darjeeling, you cannot miss a joy ride on the Darjeeling Himalaya Railway Toy Train!!

Note: This is part of the Travel your way competition by and i nominate 5 fellow bloggers for the same – Mridula Dwivedi, Rupam Sarma, Rajesh, R Niranjan Das and Anupama.

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  1. What beautiful photos – thank-you for sharing this incredible experience. I hope to be able to ride the Darjeeling toy train (or the real one!) one day myself, but in the meantime this was a lovely substitute 🙂


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