India is home to a variety of exotic landscapes, which attract travellers from all over the world. The great northern plains, massive deserts, gigantic mountains, beautiful hills, serene beaches and lush forests are all part and parcel of the country. The popularity of the marvellous hill ranges of the country has encouraged the government to set up hill trains tours for travellers. These trains take travellers on exhilarating tours of some of the wonderful hill stations of the country.
Shivalik Queen Express
The Shivalik Queen Express offers travellers a beautiful journey across Kalka (in Haryana), Barog, Solan to its final destination in Shimla (in Himachal Pradesh). The train is particularly meant for honeymooning couples.
Travellers are sure to enjoy their journey in the well-furnished and well-carpeted coaches of the train, with light background music playing throughout the journey. The train has wide glass windows offering scenic views of the passing landscapes. The Shivalik Queen express has seating arrangement for 120 passengers.
The 96 km train journey from Kalka to Shimla is completed in around four and a half hours. The train journey takes travellers through 103 tunnels, 969 bridges, 919 curves and twenty railway stations, with stops at just a few of these stations. Some of the best views are of Kushalya River, Koti, Barog, Kanoh and Jabli. The train passes through only four big tunnels, of which the Barog tunnel is the longest and it takes around three minutes to cross it. Koti, Taradevi and Tunnel no 103 are the other three significant tunnels.
Matheran Hill Railway
Matheran Railway connects Neral, a picturesque town of Maharashtra, to the hill station of Matheran, also in Maharashtra. The journey covers the route from Neral – Hardal Hill – Jammapatti Station – Bhekra Station – Mount Barry – Panorama Point – Simpson Point – Matheran Bazaar. The entire journey is filled with tranquil and panoramic natural views of the surroundings.
Travellers on board the train get to enjoy exceptional views of the surrounding hills filled with lush forests and pristine waterfalls on rocky patches. As Matheran is a vehicle free zone, there is no pollution here. Thereafter, there is an ascent starting from the Hardar Hills until the Jamnapatti station, from where the train reaches the steep slope of Bhekra Kund, with the Horseshoe embankment close to Mount Barry acting as a jewel in the crown. The route also passes through a long tunnel.
Darjeeling Hill Railway
The Darjeeling Hill Railway starts its journey from New Jalpiaguri to reach its final destination of Darjeeling, both in the Indian state of West Bengal. The Darjeeling Hill Railway, also popular as the Darjeeling Toy train, uses a 100 year old engine. The train offers an 83 km ride from Siliguri to Kurseong in the plains up to the hills of Ghoom and Darjeeling in about 8 hours.
Travellers get to soak in the breathtaking natural beauty of the mighty Himalayan terrain throughout the slow-moving train ride. The journey takes travellers across lush green tea gardens, the tranquil waters of River Teesta and the beauty of the ever-smiling and helpful natives in their colourful yet sober traditional attires.
Niligiri Mountain Rail
The Niligiri Mountain Rail links Mettupalayam and Ooty through a range of forested and mountainous views of the Nilgiri hills in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The train covers the route of Mettupalayam – Kellar – Coonoor – Wellington – Lovedale – Ooty. This 46 km journey takes about 5 hours to be completed and takes tourists to an amazing height of 1069 feet to 7228 feet. The Niligiri Mountain Rail enjoys the fame of being the steepest rail line in the world.
The entire journey is filled with views of the lush forested hills of the Nilgiri range, around 16 tunnels and crosses 250 bridges.