Severe transitions took place during the British rule in India, many of which shaped the rudimentary stones of Indian economics, politics and transportation. One such development to transportation was the completion of Kalka - Shimla railway line, alluding which are stories that are fascinating. Built in early 1900s, the same railway line still functions.

The construction of which began in 1898 initiated rail traffic in 1903 and the Kalka - Shimla toy train, adjoined with the Indian railway network, helped Britishers and other travellers to reach the then summer capital of British India, Shimla.
A toy train is a small sized train that runs on a track gauge of 2 feet 6 inches. The train when looked at literally looks like a miniature model of the same but larger vehicle used in cities. Usually, only hill stations have toy trains on their steep tracks. They are yet powerful; The subject train, at one point in the journey to Shimla, makes a solid climb of 48°. In India, there are only 4 significant toy train routes: Darjeeling mountain railway, Matheran Hill Railway, Kalka-Shimla railway and Nilgiri mountain railway; all meandering through lush green landscapes. On July 8, 2008 the Kalka - Shimla rail line became a world heritage site along with the 2 other toy train lines in Darjeeling and Nilgiri, pronounced by UNESCO.

The Journey from Kalka to Shimla takes a little more than 5 hours, covering a distance of 96 km. The statistics of the route are staggering. 70% of the route is curvy and there are over 800 bridges in total! Altogether, there are 103 tunnels out of which one is not functional. In modern times, while the technology is much advanced, travellers prefer booking a Train Holiday Package online. The services have improved too, providing luxury coaches and private cabins with a built in kitchen, cozy seating arrangement, an attendant and more.

The longest tunnel on the route is the Barog tunnel, spanning 1.1 km. Colonel Barog, former engineer of the Barog tunnel, and his story are forever associated with the tunnel due to the blunder he made during its construction. He ordered his workers to dig tunnels from both sides of the mountain, hoping results sooner than conventional boring methods. The tunnels, contrary to his calculations, did not meet and Colonel Barog was fined, dismissed and faced daunting humiliation from the then Government and his workers. In despair, he committed suicide in his unfinished tunnel. However, this didn’t stop construction and the Barog tunnel was built (partially in his memory).

The kalka - Shimla train may be just a generic train to most who have lived in India all their lives but the weight of its significance surfaces when people understand the history on which the rail line stands. For the time, the work was an engineering marvel endemic to only 4 places in India. The scenic beauty that the ride presented is so enthralling that the Britishers put great effort in minimizing the damage done to the hills. The journey is a pleasant, even though rather slow, experience many miss.

Author's Bio: 

The author of this article is a travel writer and shows profound interest in the tourism of India. He is a cultural explorer, as he likes to call himself. In this free time, he enjoys reading and watching documentaries.