I remember as a kid I always wanted to experience a Toy Train ride. But mind it, this fascination even continued when I grew up. So when I was planning a trip with my friends to Shimla, I thought what better way to reach there but by the Toy Train itself. The Toy train runs from Kalka to Shimla. It takes about 5-6 hours to reach Shimla via toy train.
So we booked the tickets of Shatabdi from Delhi to Kalka. We boarded the train early morning and reached Kalka by afternoon. From there we took a cab to Shimla. But while coming back from Shimla we planned to go via the toy train. Luckily we booked the tickets in advance which guaranteed our seats. But a lot of people were booking on the spot there and many of them didn’t get the tickets for that day since all were booked. So it’s always best to book your toy train tickets in advance to avoid any last minute chaos.
Since there is not only one toy train that runs between Kalka-Shimla. There are multiple toy trains running between Kalka and Shimla and vice versa. The 3 toy trains running are – Himalayan Queen express, Shivalik Deluxe Express and Rail motor Car. Before going further more into the details of my journey let’s first talk about the history of the toy train.
History of Kalka- Shimla Toy Train-
Since we all know that Shimla was the summer capital in the pre independence era. It was a very important historic town which held various meetings and assemblies amongst the senior officers. Because it was so popular, the officers came along with their families to visit the summer capital in summers. Since there was no other way to travel in the hills, the toy train was introduced. It was known as the crown jewel of indian railways in pre independence. It was built under Herbert Septimus Harrington. It was opened in 1903 for the public. The train is known for the beautiful journey it captures.
Some Interesting Facts About The Toy Train-
- The train crosses 18 railways stations in total.
- It was recognised in the UNESCO mountain railways of India world heritage list in 2008.
- It changes it’s altitude quickly from 655 m in Kalka to 2076 m in Shimla.
- The total distance it covers is 96kms in which it runs at a speed of 22km per hour which is ideal for a toy train.
- It has also made it to the Guinness book of record for its magnificent creation in the history of railways.
- The train runs on narrow gauge- 762 mm which is the narrowest gauge in india.
- Barog is the longest station in the Toy train journey.
- In total, there are 102 tunnels on the railway track.
The experience of toy train is itself so mesmerising, the miniature version of train is very cute along with the mini engine of the train. On our way back from Shimla, we boarded the Shivalik Deluxe express which costed us ₹350 per person which is extremely reasonable for a train ticket. We boarded from the Shimla railway station which is very well maintained. Our train was very much in time and we adjusted our luggage and took our seats to start the journey.
As the journey started, the train was at its lowest speed as we crossed the beautiful Shimla town. It was so nice to see the beautiful cottages, the roads and the daily life of locals. As we started to come to an end of the city we experienced breathtaking views of the various hill tops and local villages.
Seeing the slow life of the village I felt so content. Even the small things like happy children coming from school, elder people sitting out in the sun, cheerful ladies coming from market in groups. Even the normal routine like putting the clothes on the terrace of the house, cattle’s sitting outside the houses, cute mountain dogs soaking in the sun. I felt that we as city people are so busy in our own lives that we actually forget the joy of these small things in our life. These small things are very much cherished in these cute little villages of Himachal Pradesh.
As we crossed a village, the nature would surprise us. We crossed so many trees like oak, deodar and pine trees along with various coloured flowers. It felt as if we were showered with a divine view. The toy train is definitely famous for the nature views it offers. Since I travailed in November I was lucky to see the flowers in full bloom. But if you are a fan of snow capped mountains then I would recommend you to travel during January and February.
One of the interesting part of the toy train are the tunnels during the journey. We came across so many tunnels which was a fun experience. As a child, tunnels would really fascinate me and even when I was travelling as an adult I could still feel that thrill every time we would cross a tunnel. There are 102 tunnels in the toy train journey. Yes, you heard me right. The longest one is the Barog tunnel which lasts for more than 1km.
As the journey progressed, we could feel a change in the altitude. We were slowly going down while enjoying the natures beauty. Slowly we could feel that we are coming close to the plains. Also, few times we could also see a railway track on a greater altitude which made us feel that we are slowly going down. We crossed many stations, but we stopped in one where the train halted for the longest time as compared to the other stations. It was Barog railway station which is the biggest railway station in the toy train journey. We got down and moved a little bit and did some photography.
As we moved down we were at the last leg of our journey, we started to reach the plains where we could see roads. Slowly we reached the foothills which was the end of the journey. The way the train changes it’s altitude is amazing. Our train stopped at Kalka. We deboarded, waited an hour for our Shatabdi and boarded it. It was an enriching experience overall and we made memories for life.
The Kalka-Shimla toy train is a historical heritage of India. It has been preserved very well by the ministry of Railways. For its smooth run, the Indian railways plans annual maintenance. Inspite of the glitches and various breakdowns, the railways have managed to preserve our heritage beauty.