Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, India
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (also known as the Toy Train), is a heritage rail route that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in India’s West Bengal state. The historical rail route is 150 years old, traversing 88 kilometres of track and using zigzags and loops to ascend into the cool foothills of the Himalayas.
Operated by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the line offers four different routes, including daily tourist trains from Darjeeling to Ghum – India’s highest railway station and a steam-hauled Red Panda service from Darjeeling to Kurseong. Due to its fascinating colonial history, the railway was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999, now part of the Mountain Railways of India along with the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.
Prices from: Rs 1,165
Departing from: New Jalpaiguri; Darjeeling; Ghum; Kurseong
Journey length: 50 miles
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway route
The entire railway runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, offering four different journeys. Pssengers can take the ‘Darjeeling Mail’ from New Jalpaiguri to Kurseong and Darjeeling (6 hours, 30 minutes), the ‘Joy Train’ from Darjeeling to Ghum (a two-hour round-trip), ‘Red Panda’ from Darjeeling to Kurseong (3 hours, 30 minutes) and an on-demand only ‘Jungle Safari’ journey from Siliguri Junction to Tindharia, a 3-hour round trip. There are plenty of sights and stop offs along the way on each of the railway journeys, like the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Museum and local villages. During high season most trains run daily, but it’s worth checking the timetable on the official Indian Railways website.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway train
Many different trains run this rail route, most pulled by diesel locomotive excluding the Red Panda which is pulled using steam. Most have toilets in each carriage (except the Joy Trains running between Darjeeling and Ghum) but there are no additional services such as catering. Most trains have first-class options (along with standard class) which are more spacious and comfortable. While the trains don’t offer catering, most stations have vendors selling local snacks and food.
What we love
Travelling through the cool foothills of the Himalayas to one of the world’s most famous stations – Darjeeling. Along with the cinematic scenery and fascinating history and heritage along the way, Darjeeling itself is mindboggling – with mock tudor buildings and a church straight out of the English countryside.