The Toy Train

The 88km journey to Darjeeling from New Jalpaiguri or Silliguri on the famous miniature railway is certainly not the quickest way to get here but is nevertheless an experience that shouldn't be missed.

Until the late 1800s, all supplies for Darjeeling and all the tea exported had to be transported by bullock cart along aptly-named Hill Cart Rd. This was slow and expensive: rice that sold for Rs 98 a ton fetched Rs 240 a ton by the time it reached the hill station. Construction of the railway line up to Tindharia. In 1881 the line was completed through Darjeeling.
The whole line is an ingenious feat of engineering and includes five switchbacks and four complete loops. The last of these, known as the Batasia Loop, is five km short of Darjeeling and a popular spot for photographers.

Over the years there have been calls to pension off the elderly, unreliable, steam locomotives, the oldest of which (No 779) dates from 1892. In the last two years many of the country's steam engines have been shunted into the scrap yards. However, now that there are relatively few working steam lines, increased interest from all enthusiasts and tourist should ensure the survival of Darjeeling's Toy Train.

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