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The Kalka Shimla Railway

The Kalka Shimla Railway The Kalka Shimla Railway The Kalka Shimla Railway

A journey by the Kalka-Shimla train freshens the experience of royalty combined with the gigantic aura of the mountains. This track still has all the grace and memories of an age when people traveled in leisure and endured every moment of it.

When the train passes through, the thick mist held by the hills and pines, lowers itself in welcome the travelers. Its freshness brings alive the sensations hitherto forgotten and buried under the fast pace of urban life.

The idea of having a train originated when a newspaper correspondent conceived the idea of a railway line here in November 1847. A passionate plea in the Delhi Gazette by this journalist advocated the provision of a railway line to Shimla. After the submission of the report in 1887, a contract was signed on June 29, 1898 between the Secretary of State and the Delhi-Ambala-Kalka Railway Company for building and running a line on a 0.79248 m gauge. The railway line was finally purchased by the government in 1906.

The Shivalik hills were parted by a 96-kilometer railway line on November 9, 1903. The hill track passes over 864 bridges, under 102 tunnels and around 900 sharp curves. Three years of labor were put into to achieve this astounding feat.

There are about seven coaches to accommodate about 200 passengers per trip. The extremities of weather do not dislodge the determination of the 700 horsepower B-B type diesel engines. They run to the call of duty in temperatures ranging from zero to 45°C and in snow, which averages two feet during winter, not to mention the annual rainfall of 200-250 centimeters received by the hills. The average speed of 25-30 kmph ensures that the word 'hurry' is removed from the psyche.

The track rises from Kalka at 640 meters to the cool climes of Shimla at 2,060 meters. A journey from Kalka to Shimla is simply out of this world. The toy train winds its way slowly through the hills up to the alpine reaches of the lower Himalayas. At the foothills one gets a breathtaking view of the Kushalya River, Koti, Barog, Kanoh, Jabli (1,240 meters above sea level).

Three picturesque loops near Taksal, Gumman and Dharampur offer superb views for photo enthusiasts. From Barog to Kandaghat, the train runs downhill past the beautiful and quaint retreats of Solan and Saloghra. The final climb begins at Kandaghat and takes one through a lush forest of oak and rhododendron. Past Taradevi, the train takes its way under Prospect Hill to Jutogh, winding its way till it pauses at Summer Hill. The prospects of a fulsome holiday lift the spirits of each traveler. Finally, it burrows under Inverarm Hill to emerge at Shimla where the bounties of nature await its passengers.

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