Kalka Shimla Railway is not just a transportation mode for the people of Himachal, it is the very personification of their culture, their labours ,pains and the hardships they endured in the British era.
A Cursory Look On Shimla Toy Train: A Word Picture
Travelling with kids? Wish to give them a culture rich yet fun experience? If yes, then Kalka Shimla Railway is your best bet. At a first glance the Shimla toy train looks like a huge snake winding on the hillsides, creeping its way to meet the Queen of Hills, that is Shimla.
Shimla Railway As World Heritage
There is no doubt that Shimla railway is a marvelous piece of human endeavor. In 2007, it was proclaimed as a heritage site by the Government of Himachal Pradesh. Likewise, UNESCO has also recognized the grandeur of this monumental feat of humans in the form of Shimla toy train. Subsequently, Shimla railway was included amongst the world heritage sites by UNESCO in 2008.
History Of Kalka Shimla Railway Toy Train
Kalka Shimla railway has a curious history. By 1830 Shimla emerged as an important base for the Britishers in India. Hence, Britishers put all their energies to develop this strategic point in an all round manner. Eventually, in 1864 Shimla was made the summer-capital of British India. Obviously, a viable link between Shimla and Delhi as well as the northern plains of India became essential. Therefore, the Britishers conceived a railway link between Shimla on the mountain top at the height of 2076 mts above sea-level and Kalka on the foothill of Himalayas at the altitude of 656 mts above sea level.
In 1898, the construction work of Kalka Shimla railway link was started under the guidance of the chief engineer Mr. Herlington. From 9th Nov, 1903 ‘Shimla Toy Train’ started operating for constructed by Delhi-Ambala-Kalka railway company. Finally, the train from Kalka to Shimla started running on a narrow gauge railway track covering a distance of 96 Kms.
Tunnels of Kalka-Shimla Railway
Originally there were 107 tunnels in Kalka Shimla railway, but at present only 103 tunnels are in use. The longest one out of these is the ‘Barog Tunnel’. This tunnel has a rather interesting history. At the end of digging of the Barog tunnel, the two sides of the tunnel did not coincide with each other because of their wrong alignment. As a result, colonel Barog who was the in charge of this tunnel was fined Re. 1 for not accomplishing the work successfully and wasting government funds. He later committed suicide in shame of his shortcomings.
Mountain Man Bhalku Sadhu and Shimla Toy Train
Chief engineer Mr. Herlington resumed the work on Barog tunnel. In this mammoth task he was helped by a common mountain man called Bhalku Sadhu with uncommon qualities and skills in the field of civil engineering. The only tool of Baba Bhalku was his wooden staff. He used to tap the rocky surface with his staff and the sound that rebounded from it was his only one to study assess the nature of the rocky land form.
Bhalku Ram’s special talent helped Mr. Herlington to realign the Barog tunnel. It was also found that the inherent knowledge and insight of Baba Bhalku in the nature of mountains in Himalayas was accurate to the end. So the Barog tunnel was successfully completed. In order to honour Colo. Barog this tunnel which is the longest one of Shimla railway route was named after him. Bhalku was honored by the British Govt. at that time. In recent past Himachal Pradesh Govt. also paid homage to Baba Bahlku by creating a Baba Bhalku Rail museum in the center of Shimla.
Kalka Shimla Railway: A Joy Ride From Kalka to Shimla
This journey of 96 km from Kalka to Shimla is negotiated by toy train Shimla piercing through mountains, crossing bridges and moving in a rhythmic pace across the mountain slopes. As the Shimla train chains of Himalayan fold mountains, almost parallel to each other sometimes jostling with each other in an intricate fashion.
The view outside shows many hills, valley, ridges and spurs covered with thick carpet of forest mainly oaks and pines interspersed with grasslands. Sometimes the hills are bare because of deforestation. On hill slopes you may find many small villages and sometimes a temple with red or green roofs. The journey by Shimla to Kalka train is a romantic endeavor. The train to Shimla carries you from Kalka (656 mts.) to the average height of 2076 mts. on Himalayas heights, where the capital city of Himachal Pradesh is located. The presence of Himalayas has earned the title of ‘DEVBHUMI’ for Himachal Pradesh. The joy ride in Kalka Shimla railway gives you an impression as if you were in an utopia.
The Route From Kalka to Shimla
Kalka Shimla railway route touches the following stations. 6 Km from Kalka is the first station called Tapsal. After that Gumman and Kott stations are located. Next is Dharampur 33 km from Kalka. Then comes Barog and Solan which are 43 km and 47 km respectively away from Kalka on this railway route. Kandaghat and Shoghi are also important stations on Kalka-Shimla railway route. After Shoghi comes Tara Devi, Juthog and Summer Hill and the last one is the nearest station to Shimla.
Kalka Shimla Toy Train Booking
Shiwalik Dillux is a luxurious train to travel from Kalka to Shimla. Reservation in this train is possible through IRTC or from the Railway Station counter.