Darjeeling Toy Train
A visit to to the region is incomplete without a ride in the toy train of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR). The miniature train, given heritage status by UNESCO, covers the distance of 88 km between New Jalpaiguri station and Darjeeling town.
The little steam train made its maiden trip in 1880. The narrow gauge rail tracks are spread with a gap of just 2 ft and the train compartments are not larger than a small bus. The steam engines run on coal and the view of the small train chugging its way through the hills is a memorable view. A toy train may have between two to four compartments attached to it. Some of the steam engines are more than a century old and can only pull a couple of compartments. The diesel engines, which are more recent additions, can pull four compartments and run at a faster pace. But for a DHR aficionado, the toy train and its steam engines are inseparable.
Although the toy train is not the fastest mode of transport, the journey by it is rather enchanting, for it offers a fabulous scenic view of the hills and possible interaction with the local people. The entire journey from New Jalpaiguri rail station to Darjeeling town takes close to 8 hours. The route may remain closed from time to time due to landslides affecting the track.
The most interesting part of the journey is the five switchbacks ('Z' reverse) and four complete loops including the Batasia loop, the hunting ground for the photo-shooters.
Shorter trips between Darjeeling and Ghoom are mostly preferred by tourists as part of their sightseeing activity. This ride is commonly known as Toy Train Joy Ride. Mytourideas organize these joy rides for its guests as part of a tour package. The tour originates at Darjeeling station and there is a stopover at Batasia Loop. Batasia offers an excellent view of Darjeeling town and there is also a war memorial in memory of Gorkha soldiers who fought in different wars. This is an excellent place to view Mt. Kanchenjunga on a clear day.