Down Memory Tracks: Shimla’s Historical Toy Train

Kasturi posted on 15 January


If you’ve always been fascinated by the toy train in Shimla, then here’s a little bit more about the historical little machine.

Vacation views

Since Shimla became the summer capital for the British after the Anglo-Gurkha War, the hill station has continued to be, till this day, a vacation spot and a complete delight in terms of scenic beauty and little gems of historical information. But apart from the usual Mall Road, view points and Himachal apple juice, we have the tiny toy train that tourists, and us, keep going back for.

Narrow minded trains

The narrow gauge of two feet that was chosen for this train added to the viewpoints of a fair number of people who thought it would never work, but it still chugs along from Kalka to Shimla and back—slowly but steadily, giving you gorgeous views of the pine covered mountains and the city of Shimla. It is now also being protected under the UNESCO Heritage project.

It’s painfully slow, and we hear hilarious stories of people pushing the train or walking alongside, but we suggest that you don’t try it.

What to see

The route is 96 kms long and will take you around six hours to complete.  It goes through Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghat, Barog, Taradevi and Summer Hill with 103 tunnels thrown in. The entire point is sightseeing, so don’t get hassled by the time taken or how uncomfortable the seats are in the inexpensive trains. They have three different types though.

Train types

The Shivalik Deluxe Express has wall to wall carpeting, cushioned seats, wide glass windows, music, and food service. It doesn’t stop anywhere along the way and is slightly more expensive. We recommend the Himalayan Queen if you can skip the food and buy it from the 10 or so stops the train has {lots of opportunity to click pictures}. The Rail Motor Car is for early risers and resembles a bus from WWII. It has a transparent roof, and is stunning during rains or snow. It has one stop at Barog.

Find more information about their exquisite trains here.