Monday, 2 December 2013

The scenic ride from Kalka to Shimla on a toy train

The toy train ride which runs from Kalka to Shimla is probably the best train ride in India if we talk of scenic delights and that feel-good feeling. Situated in the state of Himachal Pradesh, the Kalka-Shimla toy train has made it to the list of UNESCO World Heritage. Over a century old, this train service was incepted by the British in 1903 when Shimla was the summer capital under their regime. Of course, Shimla has lost that political status post-independence but none can question the poetic beauty of these hills which are still to find their match. Under a Shimla tour package from Delhi, you can gorge on the beauty of this ride which is spread over 96 kms and encompasses an astonishingly high 800 bridges and 102 tunnels.

There are 20 railway stations with Barog being the chief one. There are chiefly three train services which operate from Kalka to Shimla. Here is a peep into their schedule:

i.                    Shivalik Deluxe Express: This is the more sophisticated train ride and comes with free food, free music and extensive views through glass windows. It runs continuously and does not halt at any station. It runs from Kalka to Shimla between 5:30 am and 10.15 am. Price for one-way ticket is Rs 280.

ii.                  Himalayan Queen: Here you don’t get free food but the train halts at the stations which give you the chance to purchase food or to walk out and look around. For photographers, this service should be ideal. It runs between Kalka and Shimla from 12:10 pm and 5:20 pm. Delays often occur since the train moves at lethargic pace, giving the photographers enough time to take their clicks. Price for one-way ticket is Rs 260.

iii.                Rail Motor Car: It is more like a bus with see-through roof and a capacity to hold 14 passengers. Food is provided and the train runs with good speed, halting only at Barog. It runs between Kalka and Shimla from 5:10 am till 9:35 am. Price for one-way ticket is Rs 260.

Best time to visit Shimla for a toy train ride is September-March when special heritage carriages are also available once a week.


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