he most famous of the little trains, is the one linking the town of New Jalpaiguri in the plains to the lovely hill station ofDarjeeling. With a 2 ft gauge, the Darjeeling Hill Railway is indeed a 'toy train', being the narrowest of the regular narrow gauges.
The Darjeeling toy train, officially known as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, transports passengers through the lower reaches of the Eastern Himalayas to the rolling hills and lush green tea plantations of Darjeeling. Like most other hill settlements in India, Darjeeling was once a summer retreat of the British. The railway was completed in 1881. It's now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Darjeeling Toy Train Route
The train route runs for 80 kilometers (50 miles) from New Jalpaiguri, in the state of West Bengal, to Darjeeling via Siliguri, Kurseong, and Ghum. The railway line climbs up steeply through a number of fascinating reverses and loops. One of the most scenic of these is Batasia Loop, between Ghum and Darjeeling, which provides a panoramic view of Darjeeling perched on the hill and Mount Kanchenjunga in the background. The train also passes over 5 major, and nearly 500 minor, bridges.
Darjeeling Toy Train Services
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway operates a number of tourist train services. These are -
Daily Train Services -- historic diesel and 'B' Class steam locomotives with various combinations of first and second class carriages.
Joy Rides -- 'B' Class steam locomotives which take passengers on short trips from Darjeeling to Ghum return, and Siliguri Junction to Sukna return.
Jungle Safari Holiday Trains -- locomotives which run from Siliguri to Tindharia return, with the highlights being views of the picturesque Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and "Z" reverses (where the train zigzags forwards and backwards up the slope).
Darjeeling Toy Train Information
- The joyride from Darjeeling to Ghum and back includes a 10 minute stop at Batasia loop and 30 minutes stoppage at Ghoom Museum. The entrance fee to the museum is included in the fare.
- The joyride from Siliguri Junction passes through tea estates and includes a 30 minutes stop at the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Photo Gallery in Sukha.
- The Jungle Safari trains stop for lunch at Tindharia, where stunning valley views can be enjoyed, before returning to Siliguri.
Darjeeling Toy Train Timetable
- The main daily toy train service to Darjeeling departs from New Jalpaiguri at 9 a.m. and arrives at 4.15 p.m.
- There's also a service from Kurseong to Darjeeling at 3 p.m, arriving at 8 p.m. In addition, during the tourist season there's a train from New Jalpaiguri to Kurseong at 8.30 a.m.
- Joyrides depart from Darjeeling daily at 10.40 a.m. and 1.20 p.m., and Siliguri Junction daily at 10.30 a.m. Each journey lasts for around two hours.
- Jungle Safari trains run on the weekends and public holidays. The trains depart from Siliguri at 11.15 a.m., with the return trip taking approximately five and a half hours.
Darjeeling Toy Train Cost
The daily toy train service to Darjeeling costs 247 rupees ($5.20) in first class, and 47 rupees ($1) in second class, one way. First class joyrides cost 240 rupees return.
Darjeeling Toy Train Reservations
Reservations for travel on the toy train (both daily services and joyrides) can be made at Indian Railways computerized reservation counters, or on the Indian Railways website. It's advisable to book in advance, as the trains fill up quickly.
Here's how to make a reservation on the Indian Railways website. The station code for New Jalpaiguri is NJP, and Darjeeling DJ. For joyrides from Darjeeling you'll have to book with DJ as the "From" station and DJR as the "To" station.