The Mountain Railways of India, collectively designated as a United Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, are still fully functional and operational. Three railways form this heritage site – The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka-Shimla Railway. These mountain railways are over a hundred years old and known the world over for their engineering and scenic views. The Mountain Railways of India were first declared a World Heritage Site in 1999. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was the first to be declared with the remaining added later.
The Kalka-Shimla Railway
This train route runs between Kalka and Shimla. This narrow-gauge railway was built in 1898 by the British to connect their summer capital of Shimla with the rest of the Indian rail system. H.S. Harington was the chief engineer of the project. At the time of its construction, nearly 107 tunnels and 864 bridges were built throughout its course.
This is a recent addition to the heritage list, after it was added by UNESCO as an extension of the Mountain Railways of India in 2008.
The Nilgiris Mountain Railway
This high-altitude railway connects Udhagamandalam (Ooty) and Mettupalayam. Its construction was first proposed in 1854, but commenced only in 1891. Construction of this 45.88 km long meter-gauge single track railway completed in 1908. It has the steepest track in Asia. The train passes through 16 tunnels, 208 curves and over 350 bridges. It scales from a height of 326m to 2,203m.
It was added to the Mountain Railways of India heritage in 2005 by UNESCO. Prior to its entry, the heritage site was known as Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
This railway was the first railway to be inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999. The other railways were added later. It is a narrow-gauge railway that connects New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. Construction commenced in 1879 and completed in 1881. It runs for a distance of nearly 88km. It travels through different elevations from 100m to 2258m.
Ghum, at 2258m is the highest station on this route and also in India.
Picture Credit : Google