What do you imagine when you hear ‘Toy Train’?- childhood, colours, comfy cushion seats, chimney and smoke, rainbow wheels, open windows, fresh meadows and all those fantasies that we have dreamt in childhood!
What pops in your think box when you hear ‘Darjeeling’?- snow, hills, tea plantations, valleys, fog, mist and nature’s refreshing aroma!
One last imagination- ‘DARJEELING TOY TRAIN’ and the above two fancy imaginations complement each other beautifully.
The Chuk- Chuk Toy Train
Darjeeling Toy Train is also known as Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR). This train built and introduced in 1880s runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling of West Bengal. The Toy Train was introduced in the British colonial period and remains as a heritage icon of our country. The Darjeeling Toy Train runs in extreme geographic conditions through hills, steeps, slopes and turns. It has its path on the narrow gauge. The appearance of this train is just like a toy train with a dreamland engine and smaller coaches. Now, this train is a tourist transport in the hilly regions of West Bengal.
Nestled in the Himalayas, Darjeeling possesses authentic beauty with tea fields and valleys. In addition, the holiday destination became more lovable in the 1880s when the wonder marvel- Toy Train was introduced. It became an added benefit to Darjeeling tourism. In the 1880s when India was a British colony, one of the important ports of the English was Calcutta (now Kolkata). The royal families resided in Calcutta and Darjeeling was their vacation spot. In those days, travelling was tiresome and relatively weak modes of transport existed. After all, railways came into existence in 1853 and much time had not lapsed to 1880 to expect any significant development. It took over a week to reach Darjeeling and it was not by a single mode of transport. There existed a steam engine train of Eastern Bengal Railways (EBR) but it only went up to Sahibgunj. Well, all this was the story of the 1870s.
In 1878, Franklin Prestage (agent of EBR) proposed the Government for a private railway line from Siliguri to Darjeeling. Sir Ashley Eden, the then Lieutenant Governor of West Bengal favoured this proposal. The Government, in 1879 allowed to set up Darjeeling Steam Tramway Company (private company) which was later renamed as Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR). And here is how Darjeeling Toy Train kicked off in 1881. UNESCO honoured DHR as a World Heritage Site on 5th December 1999.
Darjeeling Toy Train Trail
The Darjeeling Toy Train of 88km length belts all through the steeps, slopes and narrow ways on a 2 ft (610 mm) wide gauge. It runs from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling and covers 14 stations in its course. The train passes through New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, Rangtong, Sukna, Tindharia, Gayabari, Mahanadi, Kurseong, Tung, Sonada, Rongbull, Jorebungalow, Ghum, Batasia Loop and Darjeeling. The Darjeeling Toy Train gives a thrilling ride to passengers up to an altitude of 7400 ft above sea level.
Toy Train Ride Details
There are several departures of Darjeeling Toy Train from different stations. The first departure in the day is at 7:40 am and the last one is at 4:20 pm. So one can choose their travel time according to convenience. However, the advice is to set aside one full day for this train ride.
The engines of the trains are of two types- steam engine and diesel engine. The fare for the first-class ticket in the trains with a steam engine is Rs. 1065. Whereas, the first-class ticket of the train with diesel engine costs Rs. 695. The ticket fares also include the entry fee of the visit to the museum at Ghum. In the peak season of vacation, it would be difficult to find seat availability on the Toy Train. So, the advice is to book the tickets well in advance. The tickets can be booked through the usual Indian Railways reservation counters or website.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway provides various passenger and tourist rides namely Jungle Safari, Evening Safari, Joy Ride, Passenger Train, Steam Charter Trains and Special Coach booking. The details of each tour ride are as follows:
The train runs from Siliguri to Tindharia and back. It takes the route through Siliguri Junction, Rongtong, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Chunbhatti Loop, Tindharia and back to Siliguri Junction. A diesel engine hauls this train.
A steam engine hauls this train. It takes to and fro trip from Siliguri Junction to Rongtong. This train also covers Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. During the ride, travellers can visit Sukna Photo Gallery at Sukna stoppage. The timings of this train are:
Forward Journey- Departure from Siliguri Junction at 2:45 pm and arrival to Rongtong at 4 pm.
Backward Journey- Departure from Rongtong at 4:35 pm and arrival to Siliguri Junction at 5:45 pm.
The Joy Ride of Darjeeling Toy Train is the trip from Darjeeling to Ghum to Darjeeling. It covers the spots of Batasia Loop and the museum (Darjeeling Himalayan Railway museum) at Ghum. The departure and arrival timings of the Joy Ride are as follows: 9:15 am and 11:20 am, 9:25 am and 11:20 am, 9:45 am and 11:25 am, 11:30 am and 1:25 pm, 11:40 am and 1:35 pm, 12 pm and 1:40 pm, 1:50 pm and 3:45 pm, 2 pm and 3:50 pm, 2:20 pm and 4 pm, 4:10 pm and 6:10 pm, 4:25 pm and 6:15 pm.
The passenger train runs from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. The schedule of the train is as follows:
New Jalpaiguri (10 am) to Darjeeling (5:20 pm)
Darjeeling (8 am) to New Jalpaiguri (3:15 pm)
Kurseong (6:30 am) to Darjeeling (9:05 am)
Darjeeling (4 pm) to Kurseong (6:40 pm)
Reaching Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
There are railway stations at New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. These railway stations are connected to the main cities of India. The route through the air has a port at Siliguri. The Bagdogra Airport is an International airport in Siliguri, West Bengal. And of course, from New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri, one would have to ride on the joyous Darjeeling Toy Train!
Get updates about the train schedules i.e. changes or cancellations of trains during particular seasons. Updates are available on the website of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
Explore Our Other Posts. Tap Here!
Get the latest updates on Instagram!