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Indian Puffing Billy: Kalka-Shimla Toy Train

Updated on March 8, 2012
Kalka Shimla Rail
Kalka Shimla Rail
Train Passing Over Bridge
Train Passing Over Bridge

Running through 103 tunnels and 969 bridges and 919 curves, Kalka- Shimla railway track is one of the most unique railway tracks of the world. Having total distance of 96 Km from Kalka to Shimla this track has 18 railway stations and 5 level crossings. The rail track rises from Kalka at 640 m to the cool climes of Shimla at 2.060 m. Comparing with Australian oldest railway of puffing Billy, I named Kalka- Shimla railway as Indian Puffing Billy.

Both railway tracks were built almost simultaneously in the early years of twentieth century. Though the work on the Kalka-Shimla route was completed on November 2, 1903 yet it was opened for the general public only on January 1, 1906. It is said that this railway line was first drawn in November 1847, almost 50 years before it was actually constructed. Lord Curzon, the then British Viceroy to India inaugurated this magnificent train in November 1903. The Kalka-Shimla Railway was built to connect Shimla, the summer capital of India during the British rule, with the Indian rail system. The five hour journey is one of the best train journeys for tourist operated by Indian railway.

Natural beauty and pleasant whether greet you whole the way. Cool breeze sweeps across faces as the train crosses one station after another, like Taksal, Gumman, Dharampur before reaching Barog which is almost mid point of Journey. Barog is a colonial showpiece with bougain-villea clusters tumbling down the walls. This station is one of the most beautiful and well maintained on this track. From here you can see the towering mountains. At Barog we pass through biggest tunnel.

A tragic story is associated with construction of this railway track. Longest tunnel at Barog is named after the name of engineer Barog, who sacrificed his life when he attempted to construct tunnel but failed resulting wastage of government funds. Barog committed the mistake of digging the tunnel from both ends of the hill. The ends of the tunnels could not meet due to mistake in alignment. It is said that a fine of Rs 1 was laid on him by the British authorities, for wasting government money in the tunnel. The British engineer could not digest this humiliation and during a walk along with his pet dog, shot himself in sheer desperation. He killed himself near what now is the state government-run Barog Pine Wood Hotel. After his death, tunnel work done by Barog was left aside and new tunnel was constructed a little far from old one.

After Barog comes other beautiful destination like Solan, Shogai and Koti. All these have wonderful scenery with towering mountains with green and deep forest. You feel being amid nature through out the whole journey.

It is a heritage train, a journey with breathtaking views and stunning scenery in the entire journey. Track passing through beautiful surrounding takes you near to Nature and wonderful experience.

Earlier the train was run by steam engine but now it has been replaced with diesel engine. Now it runs at the speed of 40 to 45 km per hour as against earlier speed of 22 km per hour. To preserve heritage roots of railway it is suggested that steam engine should be preferred like Puffing Billy train of Australia.

In July 2008 UNESCO’s world heritage committee has decided to add Kalka–Shimla Railway to world heritage list and on 9th Nov 2008 this railway line was officially declared by UNESCO as world heritage site. Also the Guinness Book on Rail facts included this track as the greatest narrow gauge engineering achievement in India.


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    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      I loved and would love to make a trip on the train. Thank you for sharing some great info. here.

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 4 years ago from New Delhi India

      Jaspals, I have traveled by this train 6 times from Kalka to Shimla but last time was too long back. I really love to travel by this train because of beautiful scenery. Would travel from Delhi in Hill queen to kalka and then take this train. Voting it up and awesome.

    • Kawaljit kaur profile image

      Kawaljit kaur 6 years ago from JALANDHAR, Punjab (India)

      interesting, informative

      we have been to Simla number of times by our own conveyance but your hub has created lots of interest in travelling by train on this route. we will definitely try next time.

    • profile image

      lovaza 6 years ago

      There is a wonderment about train rides. A carefreeness in sitting and watching the sites along the way. Where I live there is a train in the mountain region that I enjoyed a few years ago. I enjoyed your Hub very much!

    • Aamna Aamad profile image

      Aamna Aamad 6 years ago from Pakistan

      This train fasinates me always...if i am not mistaken its the same one in the movie pareenita and jab we met? its truely beautiful.

    • Jaspals profile image

      Jaspal Singh 6 years ago from India / Australia

      @Bhawana. Thanks for adding your VALUABLE Comments.

    • Jaspals profile image

      Jaspal Singh 6 years ago from India / Australia

      @Lotuslove. Thanks for stopping by my hub.I am really thankful to you for ur support for reading my hub. I too love HILLS. Always crazy for them. Jaspal

    • Bhanu.Jas profile image

      Bhawana Salaria 6 years ago from Australia

      I Love this Train, running from Kalka to Shimla, passing through hills and forest full of natural beauty.

    • lotuslove19 profile image

      Sarika Mehra 6 years ago

      I love spending my holidays in hill station and have nearly visited most of them in north India ,they are my favorite destination and I love going on mini trains on the hill .

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      I have been on Amtrak, recently and love this mode of transportation. Thank you for a well-written piece.

    • profile image

      images99 7 years ago

      I Was on this track last year in July with my wife, traveled by Shivalik Express, in fact this is a Shatabdi like train stops at Badode/Solan only and every facility is provided by railways.We stayed at Grand at The Mall. nice place. Your descriptions are really great JPP(last P stands for pra).Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Raj M. Atwal 7 years ago

      A nice and informative blog. Keep it up, sir!