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Kalka To Shimla Toy Train

It is real fun being a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Kalka-Shimla. It is all retrospection to make a move on the train. It was in the year 1903 that the British laid foundation of the railway and this gives a perfect access to the summer capital of Shimla, where a journey seems like delving into the depth of beauty and natural serenity. The travelers really feel happy and excited while moving through the slender track among mesmerizing pine forest and alluring mountain ranges.

In Northwest India you have the Kalka–Shimla Railway covering a distance of 762 mm or you can even call it a distance of 2 ft and 6 in. The route is absolutely mountainous starting from Kalka and extending till Shimla. The tour really becomes memorable due to the excellent scenic view of the Himalayas and the adjacent villages too are really beautiful. 


At the time of the first Anglo-Gorkhas war Shimla became a land to be settled by the British. Shimla has its wonderful destination at the foothills of the Himalayas and it is situated at height of 7,116 feet (2,169 m). Till the year 1830, Shimla had become much preferred ground for the British. The British called Shimla their summer capital and this was declared so in the year 1864. In India the British army too considered Shimla as their headquarters. Before railway was established, village cart was the only means of communication for people living in Shimla.

The railway line was established on a gauge of 2 feet and you can even measure it as 610 mm. The initiative was taken by Delhi-Ambala-Kalka Railways and the project was commenced in the year 1898. The initial cost was considered as Rs. 86,78,500 but later on the amount increased to just the double. On 9th November 1903, the line was first opened for the general public. The cost of maintenance was more and the working conditions were not always favorable and this led to a hike in price. However, it was not permissible that the Kalka Shimla Railway would charge fares more than the general tariffs on the additional lines. However, nothing could help to meet with the expense and finally on 1st January 1906, the railway was being bought by the government for an amount of Rs. 1, 71, 07, 748. There was a regauging of the line in the year 1905 and the guideline was provided by the Indian War Department. This was done in order to ensure uniformity in all the imperial narrow gauge mechanisms. However, you have the usual local trains stopping at the Solan Station.

It was in the middle of August 2007, that the government of the state of Himachal Pradesh made a declaration that railway would be considered as a heritage asset and preparations are being made for having a review for the month of September.

When moving through the route you are made to pass by a place known as Solan and this is even regarded as mini Shimla. Every summer Solan celebrates a sort of festival where Goddess Shoolini is being worshipped and from here the place has got its name.

An expert and experienced UNESCO team was sent on 11th September 2007, for the purpose of having a review for the railway foundation so that it can be selected and considered as a World Heritage Site. It was on 8th July 2008, that the issue of Kalka-Shimla Railway was considered a part of the list belonging to UNESCO World Heritage and it is even considered under the tag of World Heritage Site Mountain Railways of India. However, already the Chhatrapati Shivaji Mumbai Terminus and the Indian Mountain Railway are willingly declared as world heritage assets.

Kalka Shimla Train Route

This is the 100th year of the most noted Kalka-Shimla mail route and it sets to offer the beguiling charisma of the conventional form of travelling through lofty pines, the thriving greenery and the mystic mountain ranges. There are four narrow gauging railway lines within the country and all of them are based in the hilly terrain. The Kalka-Shimla is one of the four and the others include Pathankot to Jogindarnagar, Daljeeling and Ooty. In fact, the Darjeeling route was considered a model for the perfect fabrication of the Kalka-Shimla route and the proposition came in the year 1891.

The railway construction began under the supervision of Lord Curzon in the year 1903 on the month of November and the rail route has become a part of the Guinness Book of World Records. The reason behind this acclamation is that it offers the steepest altitudinal rise in an available spacing of 96 kilometers. Two third of the track has been formed following a curve shape and the angles are made all the more sharp of about 48 degrees.

The thinnest gauge of 96 kilometers and it is made to move through 103 tunnels and even has to cover a distance of greater than 800 viaducts and bridges. This is considered as one of the most eyes catching Indian Hill Railway. The British eve n referred it as the “crown jewel” of Indian National Railways.

You have wonderful hilly ranges on both side and the rail lines seem like silver threads against the precipitous cliffs and they are even made to cross over bold bridges. The lines are made to move over small rivulets that glitter under the rays of the sun. While the train moves you are made to feel the freshness with the sweeping wind. It is decided journey of a distance of 4800 feet and in five hours time you can easily reach Shimla from Kalka.

The Kalka Shimla Rail Journey

Once the train leaves the Kalka Station it starts climbing upwards. The toy train happily makes its way through the line whistling merrily as its winds its way among a suitable collection of flora of ficus, maple, deodar, oak and pine woods. The train moves through a speed of 22 kms per hour. As the journey begins you get to see a huge variety in the types of vegetations. The railway stations seem so majestic and unusual and the ancient bridges make you feel like being in a fairy land.

It is a real pleasure to sit by the windows and experience the cool breeze and the adjacent greenery. The smell of the fresh dew drops and the birds chirping merrily help you feel so special and allured. You even get to see cattle grazing on the track especially when you are travelling in the early morning hours. Gradually you have an absolute change in the altitude. You start from Kalka and travel for a distance of 2, 150 feet and you reach Shimla which is of 6,811 feet.

Stations on the Kalka Shimla Railway Track

The first station for you to pass through is known as Dharampur and it lies at a height of 4, 900 feet. The place lies at a distance of 20 miles from the region of Klaka. Dharampur has a very steep gradient and just to have that flat gradient for the train to run smoothly the line is made to turn to three loops, one at Gumman, one at Taksal and the other at Dharampur. After the train is made to leave Dharampur the rail line takes to a road route and the distance is fairly shortened as the train moves through tunnels and shortcuts and this makes the distance till Tara Devi almost one fourth in comparison to the distance one has to cover by road.

From Kalka it is a distance of 24 miles and above the sea level the railway line is at a distance of 5, 200 feet. Till Solan it is 4, 900 feet and till Kandaghat the height is 4, 667 feet. And this is where Shimla takes its start. The line winds through Shoghi and taking from Tara Devi the rail line winds its way perfectly to the prospectus hills of Jatogh. It massively curves its way through the summer hills and burrows well beneath the Inverarm Hill to have a revelation to the southward portion of the road and from here it reaches Shimla quite with ease.

There are over 800 Bridges

The Kalka Shimla route does not have girder bridges and this makes it so very interesting. You will find only a single a plate girder of 60 feet and this one is located inside a pinewood at a place called Dharampur. You even get to find a trestle visduct made of complete steel and this has aptly replaced a gallery with stone construction in the year of 1935. You have the rest over 866 bridges and these make at least three percent of the entire line and in the manner the rail track is being carried just above the ravines just amidst the hilly spurs.

In order to make it easy over the hazardous terrain you have the multi arched galleries and these include the Roman aqueducts which have indeed made it less hassling to cover the distance. The arched bridges are basically stone masonry and they have been constructed using lime stones. The bridges come in four storeys. The storeys comprise of an arch and the arches are vailable in various configurations.

103 Tunnels on the Kalka Shimla Train Route

The 102 tunnels come with immense historical significance. The most interesting fact about the tunnels is that they are being perfectly illuminated with the ancient technique of the mirrors reflecting the rays of the sun and making the interiors look bright. In the manner the inside of the tunnels are aptly lighted up.

New Luxury Trains Added

This is no more the age when you are made to travel in dilapidated wooden train coaches. Now you have the smart tinted coaches and you even have the provision of chair cars. And if you talk about the toy train Shivalik Queen then you should know that the train offers privacy with the possession of coupes inside the train. In case you want to have a luxurious travel you can book tickets for Shivalik Palace. This one has a compartment which is full of plush decors and you are even provided with sleepers and there are sofas for complete relaxation. Inside the compartment you have a well sufficed kitchen and you even have an attendant to look after you and provide you with drink and food on time. The bathroom too is decked with everything essential. Apart from the rest one can even avail for the rail car which makes a travel to Shimla a less time consuming tour.

Kalka Shimla Railway is now UNESCO Heritage Site

Toy train is now on the verge of extinction and thus to save the heritage and the form of transportation significance the preservationist group of the Department of Indian Railways has made an appeal to UNESCO to give the toy train the status of the world heritage vehicle and the same has been done with all respect.

Now the toy train enjoys the same status like that of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway of Ooty in the state of Tamil Nadu and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway I the State of West Bengal. Moreover, in India the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal enjoys similar status in Mumbai much in the state of Maharashtra. The earlier name of the terminal was Bombay Victoria Terminal.

Kalka Shimla Train Services

There are three main tourist train services that run on the Kalka Shimla railway. These are:

  • Shivalik Deluxe Express -- a premium express train with carpet, wide glass windows that open, cushioned seats, and relaxing music. It fits 120 passengers. Food is provided. There are no stops along the way.
  • Himalayan Queen -- a standard train service. Food isn't provided but can be purchased at the 10 or so stations that it stops at along the way. Owing to the number of stops, this train is the most suitable for those who like to get out and explore. You'll be able to take plenty of photos.
  • Rail Motor Car -- uniquely resembles a bus from the time of the Second World War. It's got a transparent roof, and fits only 14 passengers. It's also an express service, with food provided. There is one stop, at Barog.

Kalka Shimla Heritage Carriages

Besides normal train services, two heritage carriages also run on Shimla-Kalka route. They are part of newly inducted Special Heritage Train. The Shivalik Palace Tourist Coach was built in 1966, while the Shivalik Queen Tourist Coach dates back to 1974. Both carriages were recently refurbished to become part of the new train service, which aims to recreate the bygone era for passengers. It runs on selected dates (around once a week) from September to March.

Kalka Shimla Train Timetable

The daily schedule of Kalka to Shimla trains

  • You have the Shivalik Deluxe Express. The train has been perfectly timed to have a linking with the Howrah-Kalka mail train. This train comes from Kolkata and passes through Delhi. The train leaves Kalka at around 5.30 am in the morning and 10.15 am is the arrival time to Shimla.
  • The next special train you have is the Himalayan Queen. The train departs from the Nizamuddin station in New Delhi to reach Shimla in time. From Kalka the train leaves at 12.10 pm and it arrives at 5.20 pm in Shimla. The sort of journey takes not less than seven hours.
  • If you are an early riser you can simply avail for the Rail Motor Car. At 5.10 am the train leaves from Kalka and its arrival time in Shimla is 9.35 am. The particular train starts from Shimla during the evenings.

Kalka Shimla Train Holiday Services

However during holidays and vacations some extra trains are being provided to entertain and make it easy for tourists from all parts of India. These are times from May to July and you even get the kind of extra train services in the months of September, October, December and January.

However, the Rail Motor Car is not a permanent one and the sort of service is available only during a specific time of the year. This is mainly to control the rush during the time of vacations when lots of tourists flock to the place.

Kalka Shimla Train Reservations

To book a ticket for the Shivalik Deluxe Express, the Rail Motor Car provisions and the Himalayan Queen you can easily visit Indian Railways Website or you can even pay a visit at the booking offices of the Indian Railway. You should avail for the tickets at the earliest and the time from April to June is highly crucial.

This is how you can make a reservation by making the Indian Railways website the perfect podium for journey. The Kalka Indian Railway Codes are "KLK" and Shimla (no "h") "SML".

You can even avail for the Packages like the Special Heritage Train and the Palace Carriages and the Shivalik Queen by opting for reservation through the the IRCTC Rail Tourism website.

Kalka Shimla Train Travel Tip

When making a trip to Shimla you should avail for a seat at the right side of the train and when returning you must make place for yourself at the left. This will help you have the best views during the journey.

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